By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com September 05 2001 12:00 AM ET
Lawrence, the first openly gay comic strip character, returns to the comic strip "For Better or for Worse" on Thursday, according to the St. Petersburg Times. His coming-out strip in 1993 was highly controversial, spawning both applause and hate mail for the artist Lynn Johnston, the creator of the strip. This week, Lawrence is back as the best man in a wedding, an intentional move on Johnston's part, as the disapproving mother of the bride tells her daughter, "But, Deanna, this is a church!" Johnston explains that "sometimes people who are extremely religious are themselves the most vocal and threatening. So I thought it would be appropriate to have her [the mother of the bride] say, 'In a church!' " This is not the last readers will see of the homophobic mother, as Johnston hints, "If the mother [of the bride] is as wacky as she's turning out to be, well, she has her own problems that'll be revealed later."
As for the strip running this Thursday, Johnston has received two dozen requests for an alternate strip that makes no mention of Lawrence being gay. She says, "I'll use the same art, just different dialogue." This time around, Johnston is prepared for the inevitable slew of hate mail. "When I open the letters, I can shut my eyes and tell you what they say. It's as if the same person with same narrow mind wrote it with the same pen." In response to the biggest concerns of the parents, of what happens if their children ask questions about homosexuality, she notes, "I think if a child is old enough to form that question, they're ready for an answer."