REVIEW: LOVE is LOVE

The comic industry comes together in honor of those killed in Orlando. Co-published by two of the premiere publishers in comics—DC and IDW, this oversize comic contains moving and heartfelt material from some of the greatest talent in comics, mourning the victims, supporting the survivors, celebrating the LGBTQ community, and examining love in today’s world. All material has been kindly donated by the writers, artists, and editors with all proceeds going to victims, survivors, and their families. Be a part of an historic comics event! It doesn’t matter who you love. All that matters is you love.

Title: Love is Love
Author: Various; edited by Marc Anreyko
Arist: Various
Genre: Anthology/Short Story Collection
Rating: ★

‘Love is Love’ is by definition, grossly misguided. And I swear that not much hurts more than saying that. Because this story is meant to benefit the victims and families of the shooting, because the Pulse shooting is one of the biggest acts of violence committed in this country, and is the largest attack perpetuated against the LGBTQAP+ community. I mean hell, all the paper these books are printed on was donated, and all the money made is supposed to be donated. But this anthology it just….. it sucks.

I’m gonna discuss the positives first, because unfortunately I have so few. In the beginning everything is pretty much fine. There’s are some poignant and heartbreaking stories to be found here, one’s that actually made me tear up and yanked at my heart; my particular favorite was one written by James Tynion IV, just because it spoke to high-school aged me.

And in the beginning and throughout there are some important stories. Stories by queer authors and artists who were in some way, shape, or form, impacted by the Pulse shooting. Makes sense right? Because the Pulse shooting was an act committed against the queer community, you’d think this would be a collection made up entirely of queer stories of love and support and hurt that would maybe help us all heal? Right?

If you said yes, then unfortunately, you are very wrong. Because things start to turn south very quickly. I’m not going to try and rant too much here, because I have so many larger issues with this anthology as a whole. But most of my issues can be summed up in a single panel.

Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 3.29.18 PM.png

This one panel right here shows where ‘Love is Love’ and it’s creative team went so wrong. Tell me why an anthology about queer voices, all rounded together by a gay man needs the narrative of a straight person? Because it doesn’t. This anthology is not for straight, cis, allosexual people (I’ll get to the asexual representation in a second though). There is no reason for this book to be filled with about a dozen (I stopped reading them at a point so there could be more) stories from the cishet gaze on the Pulse tragedy. There just isn’t.

It’s ‘allyship’ at it’s finest. Trying to take the conversation and shift it to somehow make it all about how you specifically aren’t a bad person, how you’ll march alongside us with your safety pin, when that in itself is such a selfish act and can’t be called allyship.

There were also 3 or 4 stories that focused on Batman for some reason? Like again, why is he here? Or Superman for that matter? Why did Deathstroke get a single story where he jokes about not using guns anymore? Because that really isn’t funny. Why did Batwoman, a queer woman, only get 1 story? Why did so many other queer superheroes only get 1 story a piece? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

There’s just no reason for there to be any stories here from the cishet point of view. This book should’ve been made by at least entirely queer writers, if not artists as well. It just seems like an odd choice when they shouldn’t be focus in so many of the stories. It’s honestly gross.

And just… some of the choices. Okay, so there’s an Archie comic that focuses on Kevin. Kevin talking to Archie and Betty and Veronica about feeling safe in Riverdale and his worries about moving to a small town as a ‘kinda openly gay’ teen. You know what would’ve been better? A one on one conversation between Kevin and Jughead. Two queer teens who are actually impacted by what happened in Orlando. But I guess the creators thought that would be less interesting? And instead opted for the ‘we’re your allies’ story instead of a ‘gay boy and aro/ace boy connect through tragedy’.

Speaking on asexuality. There’s one story where it can be found here. And guess what? Not only is it made fun of…

Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 3.38.06 PM.png

THEY DIDN’T EVEN SPELL IT RIGHT.

Then there was this completely arbitrary story where a father talks about who I think is his trans daughter? Using the phrase ‘even when he was a boy, plenty of girls liked him’. Now this could be referring to the child when they were actually, literally a boy, like 10-13 years old, and not a ‘man’. But something about the phrasing makes me think the child in question is a trans girl.

Anyway, I actually hope that isn’t the case because the father continues to use male pronouns and the whole thing just gave me this really gross feeling. Also the story doesn’t really have a point? I don’t know, readers, tell me what you get from this panel…

Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 4.05.51 PM.png

There’s also this really gross story about a cis man and trans woman getting married, and the cis guy’s father gives a toast where he talks about the woman’s dead name and how she ‘used to be a guy named Gary’ and of course it’s written by a cis dude because why wouldn’t it be? Like did no one realize how gross that sort of narrative is? Jesus.

There’s also a distinct lack of narratives involving genderqueer/non-binary people. As if we haven’t been impacted by this tragedy in the slightest or anything. I mean, why would you include those voices when you can get the voices of the ally’s and their impact and what they’re feeling right?

(I’m also low key bitter about J.K. Rowling’s contribution, because Dumbledore was the pioneer of queer representation in media right? He definitely wasn’t an afterthought in some interview.)

Overall the ‘Love is Love’ collection seems like cishet people just giving themselves a giant pat on the back. Which is a shame because there are some very important queer stories found here, but they’re lost amidst the offenses made against so many groups in the queer community. And it’s terrible, because this story was collected with them in mind, a way to benefit the victims of one of this countries’ greatest tragedies.

But it fails on so many levels, going so far as to offend me (and many others apparently) as a member of the queer community. If you are truly curious about this anthology, check it out from a library, or honestly, read it online. You can make a direct donation to the victims of the Pulse tragedy here or here.

It hurts me to say what should’ve been such an important anthology ended up just being so terrible, but I can’t ignore the issues here.

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11 thoughts on “REVIEW: LOVE is LOVE

  1. I’m really disappointed to hear that this book really didn’t hit the mark. Like, yes, it’s GREAT that there are allies out there who feel upset (I, myself, am one of them). However, who was impacted MORE? Not the allies, but the LGBTQAP+ community – who are not going to find a straight person’s account of how it impacted them very inspirational. It sounds like they forgot who their audience was and therefore alienated the very people the book was supposed to be about. Awesome review, has definitely made me think!!

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    1. Exactly, it’s sort of baffling to me why the man who asked all the contributors thought it was a good idea, especially since he is a queer man himself. The panel I first showed that has the ‘I’m wondering why my insight as a straight, white, cis man is needed’ starts with the author being asked by Marc to contribute? Like why? It doesn’t make sense to me and completely defeats the purpose of what should have been a landmark in comics.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so sorry you had to suffer through reading this too, but I appreciate that you did so we could have more negative reviews so queer people know not to pick it up.

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    1. Truthfully that’s why I read it. I saw the 4.67 rating on Goodreads and it’s #1 spot in graphic novels and comics and I just knew I had to talk about it. Probably won’t do much good since the cishets are loving this one, but at least my tweets/reading have already stopped a few queer friends from bothering with this mess.

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  3. Wow. Firstly, thank you for writing such an excellent review. I feel….what I can only describe as repulsed by the fact that, with so many brilliant LGBTQA+ authors out there right now, they chose to have cishet authors write these stories. I understand that such violent acts affect many outside of the targetted community, but given that they were targetted for being part of that community the pain is so much greater and longer lasting within it. I… I don’t know. I’m sad they couldn’t come up with more authors from within the community and I think the rep might (possibly) have been better if they had. A book that should have been there to help the community work through it is going to end up just doing more damage and I’m incredibly sad about that. I’ll be crossing this one off my TBR for good.

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    1. My thoughts exactly. And like, I know it could’ve been hard to find so many openly queer authors and artists, but there was so much that could’ve been done different here. The way the ‘stories’ are, they aren’t more than 3 pages at most. Honestly, they probably should’ve taken all their queer authors and artists and given them 5-10 pages a piece. Let them tell a more complete story besides one that lasts just one page. That way they wouldn’t have to stretch to fill this book with cishet POV’s.

      Your point about the targeting of the queer community also sticks out to me, because you’re exactly right. It’s just so odd to me that the man who asked all these people was himself a gay man. You’d have thought he’d have the foresight to realize this book doesn’t need the straight, cisgender gaze. And the worst part is there are so many important stories here, but I can’t recommend anyone go past picking it up from the library or torrenting it online and making a direct donation to the Pulse victims instead. What could’ve been a landmark in comics is instead such a grossly missed opportunity and it sucks, it just sucks.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my God. Who the hell thought that the cishet gaze was what we really needed here?? This is so disappointing. It seems to me like they went for big authors rather than the right authors. Also that comment on asexuality is making me LIVID. WTF??

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    1. Yup, exactly. I made the comment here that maybe they should’ve created a smaller team and given them 5, 10, or even 15 pages each to tell a short story rather than some one to two page mini-comic. That way they wouldn’t have had to scramble and reach out for cishet authors.

      And I’m right there with you on the asexuality stuff. S.O.B’s couldn’t even spell it right.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oof, thank you so much for posting this, bc I was really excited for this book and even just requested that my local library pick it up.

    Only comment: based on that one page you showed about the father thinking about his ‘son’ — I read it as him thinking about his cis gay male kid? Being like, why couldn’t he go the easy way and (pretend to) be straight, even when he was little tons of girls liked him so he could totally have just like married a lady. Is that wrong? Idk, maybe I’m just being naive/hopeful, because otherwise = extreme yikes.

    Also, the asexual typo, are you kidding me? Terrible.

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