A cartoonist is under fire after selling a calendar that was titled “I’m Not Gay I’m Just a Sissy.”
An argument has begun between gay news blogger Andy Towle and cartoonist Joe King over a calendar that Towle has labeled “homophobic.”
The issue inflated after Christopher Haight, a history PhD. student, read the blog and made his own post on Daily KOS, an online political community. He wrote that the calendar revolted him and put particular emphasis on the month of February.
Through an Amazon preview of the calendar, it is possible to see a man staring at a sign that reads, “WE ALL HAVE AIDS.”
He rebuked the cartoon and decided to lash out at all Christians at the same time, saying, “The cartoonist makes AIDS a target of his ‘Christian humor.’ Yeah, because nothing says "Christian humor" like a good AIDS joke.’”
King has disputed this and said that all of his cartoons are reprints based on archives of “nationally distributed work several years old,” one whose rights were purchased from a gay publication.
King wrote on Facebook, “I didn't invent it, I didn't market it. I just collected my commentaries over the past decade into a single collection.”
February’s cartoon, “We All Have Aids” was actually originally created to refer to a campaign introduced to help represent those with AIDS. The Y.R. Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education described its mission as follows:
“The WE ALL HAVE AIDS Campaign is a show of solidarity among, and an acknowledgment of, many of the world’s most accomplished, devoted and inspiring AIDS activists and scientists of the last 20 years.”
However, what started as a misunderstanding has turned into a less than friendly debate. King became upset over the accusations and continued to write on his Facebook about the disagreement.
“The ‘truth’ is that AIDS is an ‘elective’ disease. It STOPS the day guys quit sticking it to each other. And for the tragedy of women and children infected...THAT stops the day their gay husbands and fathers stop cheating on them,” he wrote Tuesday.
King later posted a cartoon picture that read: “The sodomites are coming. The sodomites are coming!” under which a verse from Romans 1:27 is written:
“And also likewise, the men leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was met.”
Haight has called Amazon and Barnes & Noble to complain that the store was selling the calendar.
“I spoke with a supervisor at Amazon who agreed that the calendar is highly offensive…The customer service representative I spoke with at Barnes & Noble was noticeably appalled that the company was selling the item,” Haight wrote.
Amazon said that it has removed highly offensive items before, but that it required a lot of customer feedback.
A petition has been developed on change.org to prevent Amazon and Barnes & Noble from selling the calendar. Its final paragraph reads:
“Please pull this product from your stores, and let your customers who support the LGBT community know that you stand with them and that you do not support dangerous and dehumanizing anti-LGBT stereotypes.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition had nearly 1,300 signatures. Barnes & Noble has reportedly removed the calendar from their online store although it is still accessible on Amazon.
While some Amazon users have called the calendar tacky, others believe that if for no other reason, King should be allowed to sell it as a right to free speech. Commentators also mentioned that other, equally as offensive material could be easily found.