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November 20th, 2023

Hafer’s Homosexuality: Legitimate Alternate Deathstyle – A Personal Review (continued…)


Hafer begins the comic book with a brief introduction to get his main characters on the stage, and establish the plot of what is to come. He begins with a page that warns us thusly:

This book has been written as a basic primer of the homosexual movement for those who do not know the FACTS.

Hafer warns us his facts are not pretty facts. We shall see in the chapters to follow how remote Hafer’s relationship with Facts is, pretty or not. But as a kindness to the reader he tells us he’s chosen to present them in an easy-to-read illustrated style. That’s one way of describing it.

We shall see that throughout the book Hafer keeps having trouble deciding whether to illustrate his facts as locker room jokes or as seriously awful truths. This repeated switch in perspective, from ha ha isn’t that funny, to darkly serious, and back again is jarring. But also…well…illustrative. The reader quickly begins to feel  as if Hafer doesn’t really believe half of what he’s saying, and Hafer’s problem with facts begins right away, almost at the very beginning of Chapter One. But first we have to get through the Introduction.

He ends his warning by praying that many young people will be diverted from “experimentation” by the facts presented in this book. But any gay kid living in the sort of fundamentalist household likely to hand this book to them is already living in terror of being outed. All reading Hafer is likely to do for them is push them closer to suicide.

So now we’re done with the WARNING. The Introduction opens with the character Chester sitting on his porch steps fuming about a newspaper article about the opening of a school for gay kids in New York City. 

I have a first printing of Hafer’s book and its print date is January 1986. So he’s complaining about the first Harvey Milk School which opened in the East Village of Lower Manhattan in 1985. Given the time it probably took for Hafer to get his comic book drawn, edited and sent to the printer (it was published by the Paradigm Company of Boise Idaho) he probably started work on it right after the school was founded. Maybe that was the match that lit his fuse.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:

The school was originally run by the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI), an organization that provides social support to at-risk LGBT youth. After becoming a fully accredited public school in 2002/3, the high school is now administered by the New York City Department of Education, separate from HMI. The school and the non-profit still share space in the same building, with the HMI providing a majority of the school’s arts and culture programming.

The school was founded in 1985 as a small, two-room program with just over a dozen students by HMI in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education’s Career Education Center. The Department of Education administers the school and is responsible for admissions. Harvey Milk was created as an alternative education program for youth who find it difficult or impossible to attend their home schools due to threats, violence, or harassment.

The school was opened to give gay kids a safe place where they could get an education. Hafer takes no notice of this Fact. In fact, throughout the book, Hafer takes no notice at all, gives no hint that he even knows or cares one whit about violence toward gay and lesbian adults, let alone to schoolkids. That’s not hard to understand, given the book is intended to be a warning that the very existence of homosexual people constitutes a danger to everyone. It’s right there on the cover:

What consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes CAN hurt you!

So presumably those gay schoolkids at the Harvey Milk School are endangering everyone just by going to class where they’re safe and not letting themselves get beaten up every day. Given that, Chester is justifiably angry.

Chester is one of the two foils for Larry, who is presented throughout as the voice of reason. Chester, initially, plays the part of the uninformed cranky crank, which allows Larry to recast what would otherwise be Chester’s knee jerk prejudices as reasonable truths. Chester is furious. “They opened a School for those people” he fumes. And Larry walks over to ask him what he’s grumbling about. Chester growls that “New York has a high school for Fags!”

Larry, taking on the mantle of the calm, measured, voice of reason, replies noncommittally. “The homosexual community has really made huge strides in the media and public opinion in the past few years”, he says. Chester isn’t having it. “I don’t want a bunch of homos living around me!!” Pay attention here…Chester is calling them fags and homos. Larry talks of “the homosexual community”. Hafer is pulling a fast one.

Now the other foil enters, stage left. A deliveryman cames along with a package for Chester, just as Chester is telling Larry he “liked ‘em better when they were in the closet.” The deliveryman tells them he couldn’t help but overhear them talking, and asks how many gays do you know? “I can’t imagine one would want to live near you.” When he reveals himself to be a homosexual, as if the way he’s drawn doesn’t telegraph it, Chester freaks out. “Larry! He’s one of them! Did he touch me?!!”

You have to have read the entire book and then come back to this introduction to see how shifty Hafer is being there. Chester is playing the part of the knee jerk ignorant bigot, which allows Larry to be the calm, measured voice of reason. “Easy Chet,” He says. “He might just have a point. How much Do you know about homosexuality?” And then “I think you’re both off the mark. Are you willing to learn what homosexuality is Really all about?”

And with that, Hafer has sprung his trap. Now the reader sees Larry as an impartial giver of the facts, as opposed to the ignorant knee jerk reactions of a guy like Chester. But by the end of the book, the distance between Larry and Chester is nonexistent, and they are both ganging up on the homosexual foil…because his role in the story is to be the two dimensional militant homosexual stereotype who really hates being a homosexual deep down inside. Because that’s what homosexuals are for in these tracts.

Another of Hafer’s devious little ploys is dressing the homosexual foil in a uniform. He appears on stage as a deliveryman, so naturally he’s in his work clothes…right? Hahahaha… Hafer clothes the foil in a uniform…because he’s a militant homosexual! Get it? Get it? 

The only name Hafer gives his homosexual foil is Sodomite. That comes in Chapter One.

So now we have our main cast of characters: Chester, Larry, and Sodomite. And we know that Larry is the giver of impartial facts, unlike the Archie Bunker character named Chester, and the militant homosexual named Sodomite. So when Larry says “Let’s start with what is a homosexual”, the readers is ready to uncritically accept whatever Larry tells them about homosexuality, because Larry is the sensible middle ground between two extremes.

And now we are about to discover that a homosexual is…starting in Chapter One. 

Stay tuned…


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