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Kenny Be: "I'd rather be gay than GLAAD"

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Editor's note: In this week's cover story, longtime Westword cartoonist Kenny Be strikes back at GLAAD, which recently named Kenny the "worst" of July. Pick up a copy, or click through here to see the full cartoon.

It is always nice to be noticed, but for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to name me the "Worst of the National Media" for July of 2009 only reveals GLAAD's ignorance, not mine.

If you have read only one of my comics, I may come across as an attractive, laid-back, athletic and straight-acting version of Rush Limbaugh. But I assure you, I am all gay. I have been ever since I came out to my family in my late teens. Frankly, I was disappointed by their lack of drama.

Coming out to my friends has always been easy, due to the fact that they are completely uninterested in my sexual orientation -- especially my gay friends! My halting attempts at intimate personal revelation are often unnecessary with them because of their quick wits and honest quips.

GLAAD's attempt to publicly shame me in the name of gay rights is a lost cause. I have been shaming myself -- without help -- for years! It all started in 1992, while lampooning Colorado's homophobia, that I first came out in my comics and publicly confessed that it was my working a part-time job with the University of Colorado football team that drove Coach McCartney to support anti-gay Amendment #2.

And where the hell was GLAAD during the reign of Rep. Marilyn Musgrave? In 1996, I had to publicly shame myself twice as hard as usual and come out as both partners of a gay couple, in an attempt to give gays something to be hopeful about during the early days of her federally mandated same-sex prohibition push.

I don't recall GLAAD ever offering to lift a finger to help me during those eight long years when Republicans controlled the Statehouse and I singlehandedly had to shame myself repeatedly by drawing comics that taught conservative politicians how to dress for Gay Pride, with tips on how to be handled by the gay press.

I can assure GLAAD that when it comes to L.G.B.T. issues, I am extremely sensitive. After all, I waited for two full years after Ellen Degeneres's famous coming-out show to pen "My Brushes With Celebrity" in 2000, where I revealed how the now-famous T.V. star used me as her "beard" in a 1990 gig at a Denver gay bar.

It is my July 2009 "Campground Confidential" comic that has upset GLAAD. In the two-page feature, I use the term "gear fags" to describe gear-obsessed campers. Ironically, I was originally going to use the term "gear queers" because I liked the rhyme. But I chose to use "fag" because the word gets less gay every day.

It was brazen of me to make such a campy word choice without GLAAD's permission. But if you GLAADsters could just tear yourselves away from TMZ.com for a moment and look at the Urban Dictionary website, you'll see that the word "fag" can now also mean "Hard-core fan," as in art fag, band fag, fur fag, Twitter fag, Apple fag, bike fag, shoe fag and pasta fag, just to name but a few.

Imagine my (lack of) surprise to find that many winners and nominees have used the word "fag" and yet still have won GLAAD Media Awards of distinction! Comedienne Sarah Silverman used the word in a noun phrase, much like I did, and was still nominated for an award in 2008. Award winners Margaret Cho (GLAAD's Golden Gate Award 2000) and Kathy Griffin (Vanguard Award 2009) are guilty of using the word as a gay pejorative.

If GLAAD claims that their mission is to "prevent defamation" and to "ensure accuracy and fairness for L.G.B.T. people in the media," then why are they fawning over these fearless funny women, yet censoring me like some backwoods L.G.B.T. bigot? Maybe if I had a vagina and a cable TV sitcom, I too would be a red-carpet-worthy GLAAD icon.

Instead, I shall honor the spirit of National Coming Out day on October 11, 2009, and come out to accept GLAAD's "Worst of the National Media" Award with pride!

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