Everyone picks on Archie Comics. Everyone. It's a convenient target. The comics almost seem to exist in a time warp. Largely unchanged in decades (they only recently experimented with a different art style that seemed more Marvel 1980's).
Gay characters in comics are nothing new. And they get a lot of easy press. And they are always joked about. Peter David made jokes about the twin phallic symbols swords Shatterstar uses, for example. When Marvel announced the Rawhide Kid was going to be gay, it had people up in arms because it was a Western character. Since Northstar and the Pied Piper, there's been this uneasy inclusion of gays in comics.
Archie is about to introduce their universe's first gay character. His name is Kevin Keller. The page has been leaked. Kevin is talking with Jughead. Veronica is trying to get her hooks in Kevin, and he's resisting. Jughead can't figure out why, so Kevin explains that he's gay. Jughead promptly starts thinking how he can make Veronica look like a chump for treating him so shabby.
THIS is the reason I'm impressed. Kevin is not being presented as some BIG GROUNDBREAKING EVENT!!!11! He's simply gay. He mentions it. Jughead doesn't freak, he pretty much just reacts with a shrug and starts plotting revenge.
I mention in one of the outros for Head Above Water that I've dated outside my race. And it was never done to make a statement. It was never done to prove how open minded I was. We dated because there was something between us and we wanted to find out what it was and if it could work. But for a lot of people, anything in violation of traditional social norms is NEWS. Remember the big deal over the first interracial kiss on TV with Star Trek.
Marvel is starting up the Rawhide Kid again, with a cover featuring three characters. RK is described as "Fabulous" with a flowing cursive script and given light and bright colors. Meanwhile, Kevin Keller is given a story that treats him with dignity, as a guy who just happens to be gay instead of a source of cheap publicity and gags.
We come a long way on equal rights, but we still have a long way to go....