Journalist Randy Shilts wrote in his book documenting homosexuality in the military, Conduct Unbecoming, that the curse of cowardice within the LGBT community is the ease of secrecy. Unlike the communities of color that can’t feign their skin color, or women who can’t conceal their sex, the closet for gays and lesbians is seductively private. But its security was breached by the arrival of HIV/AIDS, a dread scarlet letter.
While writer Sam Humphries and artist Steven Sanders’ single-issue comic book, Our Love is Real, isn’t a stomach-twisting story of sexual divergence and the discrimination that follows, its spirit is in the right place. Humphries structures the plot atop a world that’s discovered a vaccine to combat the HIV virus, opening the doors to unending sexual exploration and limitless cries for social acceptance.
Our proxy is Jok, a cop who busts up “vegisexuals,” which are exactly what they sound like: people who have sex with synthetic dolls grown from plants. It’s vulgar, of course—not like the love Jok feels for Chyna, a poodle he happily shares a monogamous sexual relationship with as a “zoosexual.” As these futuristic journeys go, Jok’s worldview of carnal right and wrong is shaken up when he meets Brin, a “mineralsexual” who achieves total erotic bliss through meditation.
The world of Our Love is Real exists in a Blade Runner-inspired speculation of what the planet could look like and what its people are up to behind closed doors. Because HIV/AIDS is still the one great boogey man between the sheets, Humphries and Sanders use raw humor and subtle intelligence to remove that one looming fear from our minds before objectively plunging into a fantasy of cheeky sexual understanding. And the question left to answer: what won’t we do to get off?
This comic book review was originally published in A&U magazine. To view the PDF version of the piece’s original publication, please click here.