When I was a kid, I was all about "Archie," "Veronica," "Betty," "Jughead," "Reggie," and "Riverdale High." I think that many of my ideas about what high school was going to be like were formulated as I read one "Archie" comic after another. I loved that most grocery stores where I grew up had the comic books strategically located in the checkout lines. I even ordered (with my parents' permission) copies through the mail. With all of that in mind, one can imagine my reaction to hearing about the new gay character Kevin Keller.
I remember wondering so vividly how a gay kid like me would fit in at "Riverdale High." And even with the decidedly odd Christian turn that the comic's storylines took when I was a kid, I still had that question (ridiculed is the likely answer). I identified with "Jughead" in my lack of interest in girls. I was probably like "Dilton Doiley," since I was in the smart set at school, and I definitely identified with "Chuck Clayton," because we were both black. In an ideal "Riverdale" world, I would have been a combination of those three characters in a darker "Moose" body.
It will be interesting to see what the folks at Archie Comics do with "Kevin." Will he get a boyfriend? Will there be some misunderstanding about "Jughead's" lack of interest in the ladies? If Kevin does get a love interest, I think it would be cool to let him be black or latino or asian (actually, it would be cool to have "Chuck Clayton" come out as well, and go for "Kevin").
I am glad that Archie Comics decided to go in this direction. It's going to be cool for the young gay kids coming up, who look to "Archie" and his crew for an understanding of how adolescence and high school might be, to see a gay character in that mix. Yet, as excited as I am about the move, I am more than confident that there are people who will now bar their children from ever learning about the fun and crazy world of "Riverdale." That will be a real shame, because I learned many good lessons (even from some of the Christian issues) about being a decent person, something that millions of us need reinforced on a daily basis.