As you may have heard last week, the Buffyverse was in for a shake up as not only were we getting a new slayer but that it would be a he and HE would be gay.
The upcoming introduction of Billy to the Buffy comic series has fans divided – some welcome the introduction while others still live and die by the credo: “Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.”
So why after all these years will there not only be a male slayer but a gay slayer as well?
Jane Espenson, creator of hit webseries Husbands (also in process of becoming a digital comic) and known throughout the ‘verse as writer/producer of the Buffy tv show and a co-writer on quite a few of the Buffy comics and collaborating with Drew Greenberg on the upcoming season 9 of the comic book (where Billy will be introduced) was asked this very question in an recent interview with OUT Magazine.
“Billy actually predated the idea of doing a Husbands comic. I already knew Cheeks, and he has a line in Season 1 of Husbands, that Brad [Bell] wrote, that really struck me about how Cheeks has an “exotic femininity” that’s equated with weakness. I thought, Gee, all the work we’ve done with Buffy is about being female, and how that doesn’t mean that you are lesser. It suddenly struck me: If being feminine doesn’t mean that you’re lesser, then liking guys also doesn’t mean you’re lesser. For very good reason, we’ve focused on the female empowerment part of Buffy, but I wondered, Did we leave something out? What if someone in high school is looking up to Buffy as a role model, and we’re saying: You can’t be a Slayer.”
Greenberg adds, “Billy is someone who sees a need in his hometown and steps up to fill the void, even at great personal risk. He may not have the actual powers of the Slayers, but he’s determined to be his own kind of hero, one who’s sort of modeled after those who do have the power, and he sets out to make due with what he has. In the process, I think he hopes to follow the lead of all the strong, powerful Slayers who came before him and live up to the standard they set.”
Are we afraid of what a gay male slayer would act like? Too butch, too femme? Does it matter? No.
All I want is a legit character who kicks ass and if he likes to kiss boys, so be it. With this being the year where we saw an X-Men gay wedding (Northstar and Kyle) and a gay guy named Kevin Keller become part of the Riverdale crew in the “slice-of-Americana” Archie comic book series (which is HUGE) that I’ve been reading since I was 6 – it’s time to embrace, encourage and welcome Billy’s “coming out” in the Buffyverse with open arms.
“I have no problem telling a story about a boy who’s always felt more comfortable identifying with what society tells him is more of a feminine role. So much crap gets heaped upon us as gay men — crap from straight people and, frankly, crap from other gay people — about how it’s important to be masculine in this world, how your value is determined by your ability to fit into masculine norms prescribed by heterosexual society and, sadly, co-opted by gay society as a way to further disenfranchise and bully those who don’t meet those norms. And those attitudes are a reflection of not just our own internalized homophobia, but of our misogyny, too, and that’s something I’ve never understood. So if this is a story that causes people to examine traditional gender roles and think of them as something more fluid, I’m thrilled.”
And not only THAT, Greenberg also told OUT that Billy won’t be alone – we’re gonna get TWO gay characters!
“I hope people read this and, in the grand Buffy tradition of seeing archetypes in entirely new roles, realize what I’ve known for years: That nerds are totally hot.”
And if you think it’s gonna just be handed to Billy, think again.
“Batman doesn’t have super powers. He wasn’t gifted with an exotic foreign birth. So we take the Batman route; Billy is earning the Slayer mantle.”
Well said, Jane.
Meet Billy yourself when Buffy The Vampire Slayer #14 hits the shelves in your favorite comic book stores this October 10th.
*Buffy comic art courtesy of OUT Magazine. To read the full interview with Espenson and Greenberg (and it’s worth the read, trust me) click HERE. Thanks again, darlings!
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