For National Coming Out Day, Archie Comics teamed up with the It Gets Better Project to create a few strips under the hashtag #ABetterUniverse to imagine a world where “everyone is met with love and support when they choose to disclose their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.”
The short two- and three-panel strips feature Archie, Veronica, Betty, Jughead and their friend Kevin Keller having a friendly reaction as classmates come out to each of them.
The It Gets Better project writes:
“The comic series, #ABetterUniverse, demonstrates 5 different ‘coming out’ scenarios in Riverdale where young people are doing the right thing by fostering a supportive and nurturing environment for LGBTQ+ youth. We hope this series inspires people to create the world or universe they want to live in.”
Here are the five #ABetterUniverse comic strips from Archies Comics’ collaboration with the It Gets Better project:
What’s cool is that in each of the strips the Archies gang treats their queer classmates with warmth, respect and support. While Keller thanks his trans and gender-neutral friends for trusting him with their truth, in the other strips, Betty and Veronica merely treat their newly out pals warmly but aren’t too terribly shocked — just the way it should be.
How Archie Comics introduced its young readers to LGBTQ issues
In 2010, Archie Comics introduced the first-ever gay character in its series’ 70 year history, Kevin Keller. Keller then married his husband Clay in 2011, four years before the U.S. legalized marriage equality nationwide.
After One Million Moms, a project of The American Family Association, asked Toys R Us not to display comics featuring Keller near its checkout aisles. Toys R Us refused and Archie Comics responded by creating a storyline in which a mom in Riverdale objects to Keller kissing his boyfriend in public.
In a 2014 Life with Archie comic, Archie actually dies while taking a bullet for Keller during an assassination attempt on Keller’s life. Then, in 2016, the comic revealed that the ever-hungry, joke-cracking character of Jughead was actually asexual.