Comic strip will have gay teen

March 18, 1993|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

That 17-year-old Lawrence Poirier tells his parents he is ga probably isn't a very big deal. Thousands of teen-agers somehow find the courage to do the same thing every day.

What's unusual about Lawrence is that he's a character in a comic strip, "For Better or for Worse."

Starting April 5, the comic strip, which appears in The Sun, will take on the touchy issue of gay teens coming out to their parents. The reaction of Lawrence's parents is unfortunately typical. They throw him out of the house.

"I suppose 'For Better or for Worse' mirrors my own life in many ways," explains Lynn Johnston, who has been drawing the strip for 13 years.

Her brother-in-law, Ralph Johnston, came out to the family about a dozen years ago. Ms. Johnston remembers it well since she was the first person he told. He was chopping wood outside of her door and making much more noise than he usually would.

"He was beating the crap out his wood," she recalls. When she asked him what was wrong, he said: " 'I'm so sick of my mother introducing me to girls. If one more stupid woman comes over for tea and brings along some buck-toothed broad!' "

Ms. Johnston says it's funny now. But Ralph's coming out shook the family profoundly. "What happens when you hear this news is you change. You change because your point of view is shattered. You think one thing about the person and then this comes along. Then you realize that they haven't changed. It's you."

That's the point she wanted to get across in the series of comics.

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