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December 28th, 2019

Deathstyle by Dick Hafer – A Review

 

Possibly the most homophobic comic ever published, apart from Jack Chick’s little tracts. Now a part of the Casa del Garrett library of homophobia. I collect antigay pamphlets, tracts and assorted publications, even or especially when such like appear in the mainstream magazines I grew up with. It isn’t all fringe like this from religious right cartoonist Dick Hafer. Back in the day Everyone threw garbage at us. That was the pop culture environment this gay guy grew up in.

So why would a gay guy want to collect this awful stuff…I hear you asking. Many years ago I read an article about a collection of racist artifacts from the U.S. civil rights struggle gathered by a black gentleman over the years of his life. He kept it all he said, so people would remember what it was like fighting for equality in the days of separate but equal, and to insure that the hatred black Americans faced would not be erased.

That’s one good reason. I have another more personal one. Back in the days when I had my first Internet account, I followed a USENET newsgroup that was basically an unmoderated forum for gays and homophobes to argue with each other. I joined to better learn the methods of the enemy, and test myself against them. What I discovered, like those who would later follow the Proposition 8 trial, is there is no There there. They would lie shamelessly, then deny having lied. They would throw out this or that latest piece of junk science, which was pretty much the old junk science given a fresh coat of paint, demand our respect, then after it was debunked, throw something else equally vapid out…wash rinse repeat…over and over. They would thump the bible, then thump some junk science, then back to the bible. You came to understand pretty quickly that the argument was just an excuse to spit in our faces and remind us that we’re hated.

And yet…and yet…you could also see the gay bystanders being encouraged by the sight of gay people standing up to the bigots. If the bigots were arguing just to spit in our faces, we could call out their myths, lies and superstitions not because we had any hope of changing their minds, but to tell others that these lying conniving runts were nothing to be afraid of…and show them that the moral high ground is ours, and always was.

Why dig up old wounds? Why keep revisiting an unpleasant past? Well for one thing it’s not all in the past. Yes, gay folk have made great progress. But if bigotry and hate have anything going for them it’s persistence. The old beliefs haven’t declined, they’ve dug in for the long war. Resentfully. Bitterly. What’s changed, and it’s only this, is anyone open to the evidence of our lives can see the haters for what they are now. But that’s only because now we’re able to live our lives openly. Thank Lawrence v Texas for that. And because of that, because we can live openly without the sodomy laws hanging over us, people can see the joy and beauty, the honor and the dignity of our love. The Proposition 8 trial, where we fought for the right to marry, all the way to the Supreme Court, opened a lot of eyes; not only to the depth of our commitments, but much more importantly to the utter vacuum of the case hate made against us. There was no there, there. It opened a lot of eyes. But not every eye will be opened.

If you’ve ever wondered how the xenophobic religious right could embrace Putin and his russia screwing with our democratic institutions take a long look at his gay propaganda law. It effectively locks Russian gay people in the closet…but not the voices of prejudice and hate. Now in Russia those voices are free, free at last to throw every filthy lie they can think of at us, at our families, friends, neighbors, while we cannot speak our truths for ourselves without risking prosecution. The Franklin Grahams and Tony Perkins here at home would love to have such a law on the books here. Only that pesky first amendment and the Federal courts stand between their dream and our lives. And given what Trump and McConnell have done to the courts, they may get their wish after all.

The comic book above would be my exhibit 1 in the category of filthy lies about homosexuals…more so than the Chick tracts since, so I’m told, the Hafer comic has been widely passed around among the kook pews. And its essential hate is more polished than Chick’s. Hafer wraps the open sewer of his prejudices with a technique that allows him to present it as though it were the living waters. There’s the usual junk science, but also he employs two foils he can work against…a low class fag baiting bigot and a scarecrow militant homosexual. Between these two he can present what is essentially the same blind hostility toward gay people as the low class bigot as reasoned and measured…and then ultimately as godly and righteous.

Soon after this arrived in the mail, I began flipping through its pages. I’d already seen many of them posted here and there in the Internet tubes, but I was unprepared for the unabridged wholeness of its contempt and hate. If Orson Scott Card was a cartoonist this would probably have been the comic book he’d have produced on homosexuals and homosexuality. It’s deeper in the dark night of the soul than even R. Crumb or S. Clay Wilson ever went. All the feelings of growing up gay while hearing this crap thrown at me over and over and over again came rushing out as I began reading it.

So in the interests of my own sanity, because I just can’t let this crap slide without speaking out about it, and because debunking this stuff is a never-ending chore, and in tribute to Fred Clark’s amazing series review of the Left Behind books, I’m going to do a chapter by chapter series review of this piece of shit comic. 

Fasten your seatbelts and remember…there is no bottom to the human gutter. None.

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