Exhibition and workshop aimed at gay and trans comic fans
In the wake of the latest Batwoman being out and proud, we talk to comic book artist Garry McLaughlin about his series of LGBT-friendly workshops encouraging people to find their inner hero.
The idea of gay culture in comics is nothing new, with handfuls of uptight academics frantically pointing out the homoerotic sub-tones of Batman and Robin’s cartoon exploits since the 1950s. The foundations of X-Men arguably lie in the civil rights movement and homophobia, with mutants such as the potentially transgender shapeshifter Mystique having to ‘come out’ and deal with a life of discrimination and judgment. And in recent times, Batwoman has become an out lesbian ex-servicewoman, whilst the ‘all-gay’ comic Spandex is garnering praise from the mainstream media.
But are comics really for us? They are, after all, often stereotypically viewed as the preserve of straight, white dudes (no offence intended to said audience, ’course).
Re-Invention, running as part of Glasgay!, is a week-long workshop looking at representation of gay and transgender comic characters, which teaches you how to create your own heroes or heroines.
Garry McLaughlin, organiser, artist and comic enthusiast, explains. ‘I am gay myself, so I know that the comic scene is off-putting to LGBTs. There are a lot of alternative voices that aren’t heard within the comic book medium. A lot of the more mainstream gay comics tend to be very over-sexualised. I want to try to bridge that gap a little, saying to participants that you can actually achieve mainstream success but still reference LGBT issues. They don’t have be hyper-sexualised to make an impact.’
Garry describes the workshops as a condensed version of the ten-week courses he does with his not-for-profit comic arts project, Cosmic Designs. A month-long exhibition will follow, featuring Garry’s work alongside projects from Barry M. Wolfe (Transgender Expressions) and Grant Alexander McDonald (Not So Familiar Now), focusing on trans-discrimination, empowerment and body image.
Workshops will be held at The Virginia Gallery, Glasgow, 17–22 Oct. The whole exhibition runs from 23 Oct–26 Nov, Mon–Sat, 11am–6pm & Sun, 12pm–5.30pm, free.