New Hampshire Cartoonist Criticized for Gay Wedding Comic

It's not every day when you open your local paper and see a full color, full page, non-fiction personal memoir.

I found this (opens a PDF file) autobiographical one-page comic to be observant and sweet. Editor/cartoonist Clay McCuistion wrote and drew "How We Got Gay Married" for the September 5, 2008 edition of the Concord Monitor. The out of the box editorial decision to publish this deserves a round of applause.

A fellow editor at the paper, Felice Belman, in a September 9th editorial, repsonded to criticism that the comic was "garbage" and promoted "sodomy." She defended the editorial decision:

"Actually, the comic strip struck me as rather tame. It certainly wasn't about sex. In fact, no one at the wedding even kissed - at least in the cartoon version. Much of the comic strip described a ceremony like any other wedding: fretting over the menu and tossing the bouquet; a justice of the peace who arrived late and employers (me!) who left early. Some of it was uniquely McCuistion's - like the guest who played video games at the party.

"Of course, not all comic strips are for children. The critically acclaimed Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi's 2001 memoir about growing up in authoritarian Iran, for instance, is told completely through black-and-white cartoons. That doesn't mean we're not mindful of what we put in the newspaper. But McCuistion's cartoon was promoted on the front page and the title of the strip - 'How we got gay married' - certainly wasn't subtle. Parents reading the Monitor with their children shouldn't have felt surprised by the comic's content"

It's not every day when you get to see a local, personal story told in sequnetial art in the local paper -- although with Felice and Clay around, maybe it'll happen more often. The comic prompted a few letters of heartfelt support. This one, reprinted in its entirety, was especially poignant:

"Clay McCuiston's gay marriage cartoon page - check it out: a full-page cartoon, no less - cannot be ignored (Monitor Friday page, Sept. 5). Congratulations are due to him and his partner, even though he didn't feel the event was historic.

"Granted, I'll be 80 this January and my wife/partner and I have been through all the years when "playing a role" was the only way we could keep our jobs, but we still don't think we've really come to the place in our lives where a cartoon is the best descriptor.

"Happily, Kay and I lived long enough to take advantage of having a civil union this past February. We felt so rewarded to have this validation of the 28 years we've been together. The intangible and unexplained new feelings of respect and inclusion we've experienced ever since have been the hallmark of what the civil union did for us.

"Cartoon? No! Historic? Yes! Blessed? You bet!"


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