Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Holy Retro-homophobes, Batman!: A trip down memory lane

The 1960s have clearly seen a renaissance of late. It seems everyone is going mad over Mad Men along with a whole cornucopia of 60's themed media (A Single Man, Pride, A Cloud Over England, Howl). And with this retrospection on the radical age with its sexual revolutions et al., it serves as a good reminder to remember the state of queer rights in the 60s. Mad Men's Sal got the boot last season after coming up against his homosexuality. While painful to watch as a fan of the character it is certainly a wake up call to consider just how closeted a society America was and in some ways continues to be.

Cartoonist and blogger Sam Henderson digs up this pretty in pink treasure titled "My Son, the Daughter." He writes:
This was a book published in 1966, back when the idea of someone being gay was funny in and of itself. I don't know for sure, but Mort Drucker's probably embarrassed by it now.The same publisher also did a couple books of “Fannie Hillman” illustrated by Sergio Aragones to cash in on the Jewish mother schtick of the time. It's weird how the people behind Jewish jokebooks were most likely Jewish while the gay jokebooks were written by people who probably never even met a homosexual.
On one hand My Son, the Daughter is steeped in the running homophobic joke of reviling the sissy. But at the same time, it is in some ways a relief to see the ways in which gay men's lives were open enough to receive this level of layered satire. I'm ambivalent as to hating on the author because in some strange way, I find the book liberating in a strange sense. Check out the full scans at Henderson's blog, The Magic Whistle.

2 betches:

Darren said...

I really liked following Sal's story. An interesting window into how things were back then - well, through the lens of TV to be sure.

I was sort of shocked that he has not been mentioned at all. Last I recall her was in the Village, and called his wife - apparently ashamed to go back home yet also circling the fringe of 60's gay culture.

I'm hopeful there'll be some cameo or brief mention at some point...

Also, the rest of your article was good. Sorry I am hung up on the Mad Men reference.

Kuhnsy said...

I find the book awesome! Besides the gender confusion in the first two panels, this book doesn't come across as homophobic to me. Sure the humor is that he's doing things only girls do, is sex-focused, and is his mother, but along the way they show him entering into an LTR with a fine young gentleman, they show his feelings being reciprocated by a vast array of traditionally masculine men, and no where does his homosexuality warrant an attack from the other characters. Plus, they show him doing EVERYTHING a girl might be depicted doing, including super sexual stuff that people would be scared of publishing today. To me this book comes across as misogynistic when it devalues traditionally "female" work/behavior in the context of it being performed/done by (gay) men.

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