I learned about former gay porn star turned Catholic Joseph Sciambra a few days ago thanks to the Christian Post who was touting his story of salvation at some point in his twenties in the wake of a a near death experience after “vomiting up gallons of blood in a hospital emergency room”. Sciambra believes after he called out to God that a demon was cast out of him. Parts of his story ring familiar to me as there are similarities between Sciambra’s life and conversion and my own father who indulged in alcohol and extra-marital sex until he had his come to Jesus moment after he was shot twice during an argument. In my father’s case, he never dealth with the psychological issues that led to his behavior and simply substituted the crutch of religion for alcohol.
What’s Sciambra have to do with comics? I’d have said “not much at all” until Sciambra’s Facebook page came to my attention after some discussion of the man amongst some friends and I. Curiosity got the better of me though much of his content was unsurprising religious imagery. Sciambra’s recent Pinterest pins consists largely of gay porn actors who’ve died of AIDS. Then I came across this image of Archie Comics gay character Kevin Keller drawn by Keller’s creator Dan Parent. Created for Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project (you can see it in this YouTube video that was uploaded on July 8th), Sciambra appropriated the art to turn into his own bigoted and hateful meme which he uploaded to Facebook page on July 9th. Sciambra states about the piece: “My first meme. I dislike gay propaganda; esp. when it’s aimed at kids.” Sciambra’s original version can be seen on his Facebook page here.
Dan Parent and Archie Comics have earned widespread respect and admiration for creating Kevin Keller as a visible part of the Riverdale gang and not flinching during the One Million Moms controversy. To see Parent’s art and character used in this hateful manner is infuriating.