One of the challenges of doing any kind of creative work is wondering how people will interpret it, and although I could easily add a rant or comment with the strip I’d rather leave it blank and see how others interpret it. This allows me to check the effectiveness of the comic and see if I’m on the same wavelength as everyone else.
With depcom #165, there were a few people who used the strips to talk specifically about gay rights, which I didn’t intend this strip to be about but just as a backdrop to illustrate what I wanted to say about childhood shaming. This isn’t to say it’s not important, because it is. Homosexual men are four times as likely to suffer from a mental illness as heterosexual men, making them a high risk group.
But it’s not homosexuality in isolation that is the cause of this. Research has shown that societal perceptions and shaming is one root cause, which I wanted to illustrate here. The reason the character feels shame is not because he believes homosexuality is wrong, but because the world has attitudes towards it that make it shameful. And feeling shame about who you are will have consequences, even if the shame comes from unenlightened sources.
This childhood shame affects everyone. We often say that kids are like sponges and easily absorb and internalize the world around them. Unfortunately, they ingest the bad with the good, and that includes all the shaming elements within our environment. We shame all sorts of people due to race, gender, sex, income, nationality, etc, without thought as to how it affects the young ears that hear it.
A few weeks ago, a friend told me a story about how her husband scolded his son for crying. The son had done something wrong but when he was scolded he started crying uncontrollably, and making various attempts to make him stop the father said, “Stop crying, it’s not cool at all. Don’t you want to be strong?”. The attempt didn’t work, but a lesson was learned anyways: the next week, the child harassed another kid who cried because “crying makes you weak.” Shaming in action.
Anyways, the point I was hoping to make is that by creating an environment of shame, especially one that shames the individual based on who they are, may have devastating consequences in their later years. Having pride in who you are is important, but so is having a life where you no longer feel shame for who you are.