To Watch Out For
By Terry J. Allen
On April 26, Vermont became the first state to legalize civil unions between gays, granting same-gender couples all the rights of heterosexual marriage
that a state has the power to extend.
A month ago, as the vote in the Vermont House neared, a small but fervent faction of defenders of "traditional" marriage simmered with moral outrage. When state Rep. Nancy Sheltra stumbled on a stack of Out In the Mountains, Vermont's gay monthly, in the halls of the State House, she found a target for her indignation. "It was left in the cafeteria where pages and touring children could see it," Sheltra said. The particular focus for her ire was the nationally syndicated cartoon Dykes To Watch Out For by fellow Vermonter Alison Bechdel.
"I didn't read it," Sheltra admitted. Had the right-wing Republican representative read it, she would probably have been as horrified by its politics as by its "sexual orientation." Alongside sex in its richly bewildering blend of passion, jealousy, disappointment, tenderness and absurdity, readers find familiar issues, from the ridiculously petty to the profoundly disturbing: fat thighs, the war in Kosovo, day care, shopping, the demise of independent bookstores, the dubious pleasures of a tofu-based diet.
Terry J. Allen is a contributing editor of In These Times.