The Birds And The… Sometimes It’s Just Birds

I LOVE the argument from homophobes that goes something like, “How am I supposed to explain to my children that their teacher is gay?!” Have you tried? It’s super easy. It goes something like, “Sometimes a boy falls in love with a girl and sometimes two boys or two girls fall in love.” The kid’s response (precluding any prevoius long term exposure to any ignorant hate-speech) typically goes something like, “Ok. I want more chicken nuggets.”

Those interested in goods from The HE Store should watch this space. I’m not saying the biggest blowout sale I’ve ever run is around the corner, but that is exactly what I am not yes are too saying. I’m saying that.

I think our daughter was four and a half when we  laid the awful truth of the homosexual agenda on her. I believe her exact response was, “I might want to marry a boy. But I MIGHT want to marry a girl.” We told her that in some states, especially the one she lives in, two boys or two girls aren’t allowed to get married even if they love each other. Her response was, “THAT’S NOT FAIR!” She says that a lot, but that time she was extremely correct in her assessment of the situation. My hope is that within 10 years the idea that two people in love can’t have that love legally recognize and be afforded the same rights as any other married couple will be a thing of the past. My kiddo will roll her eyes in disbelief at how backward things were in “my day.”

Confused? Read this comic and blog post to see what’s going on with HijiNKS ENSUE. It’s exciting stuff!

COMMENTERS: Has a kid ever floored you with how easily they grasp a seemingly complex argument or situation? They tend to cut through the BS pretty quickly and expose your hypocrisy with reckless abandon.

Have you seen my wife’s latest geeky jewelry creation? DNA Necklaces! 

DNA Necklace on Etsy


Comments (88)

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morgan's avatar

morgan · 93 weeks ago

I love this. Your comics always make me happy and I’m super excited about this new direction.

5 replies · active 93 weeks ago

Hotsauce's avatar

Hotsauce · 93 weeks ago

For various reasons, any time I see or hear the phrases “new direction” my brain translates it to “nude erection”.
seriously's avatar

seriously · 93 weeks ago

Thank you for that, I have a meeting on Monday with a boss who uses that phrase a lot and now that image will be stuck in my brain.
Richter's avatar

Richter · 93 weeks ago

Especially when my wife made me watch Glee.
Hotsauce's avatar

Hotsauce · 93 weeks ago

I suspect the writers did that deliberately.
My mind keeps registering it as One Direction, and then I’m left wondering what a quintet of fey British guys grabbing each other’s crotches has to do with jokes about Dr. Who and Star Trek.
As a Guest's avatar

As a Guest · 93 weeks ago

The hairy, chunky, delicious birds. It’s really nice to see a comic with a gay character AND a bear without needing to be an awful, shallow, subculture pandering mess.

2 replies · active 92 weeks ago

So much this. Though I wouldn’t mind a little fanservice now and then, like when Josh bedded that dude from the rave. 8^)
well, see that sort of thing would be MORE likely to happen in a story centric HE.
Jordan's avatar

Jordan · 93 weeks ago

So very excited to see the comic heading in this new direction. I’ve always been a fan, but the introduction of mini-arcs last year had me hopeful we’d one day get a larger web of continuity-driven storytelling. Glad to see it’s off to a strong start!
Rich's avatar

Rich · 93 weeks ago

You know you’re a high school science teacher when your first thought on seeing that lovely piece of handicraft is “She should only use four colors for the bases, and use them in pairs.”

4 replies · active 93 weeks ago

You know you’re a Jonathan Coulton fan when you see it and thing “yep, the necklace has cancer”
GAH! We thought about making it super accurate, but it wasnt as pretty. Maybe back to the drawing board.
Kassandra's avatar

Kassandra · 93 weeks ago

Could always argue it’s not human dna.
Chris's avatar

Chris · 93 weeks ago

You know you’re not a mature adult when your first thought is “I can make DNA necklaces too! The palette is much more monochromatic though”
But you ALWAYS need the giant space laser!
lou's avatar

lou · 93 weeks ago

Giant Space Lasers: There’s no problem they can’t solve!
….was that an option? I’d like to know more!
BoldlyGettingThere's avatar

BoldlyGettingThere · 93 weeks ago

I was listening to Podcast #18 at work last night and Joel started talking about how he’d never make the HE crew have real lives or storylines. I love seeing how organically you’ve changed your mind on that, and I’m super excited about the new direction!

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

It was more of a necessity than anything. Old me didn’t have that need yet.
I’ve always been a fan of your daughter (man, that sounds weird) from things you posted on Twitter, and LOVE her in the comic. Great start to this new direction, I’m loving it.
deadrobot's avatar

deadrobot · 93 weeks ago

My Positive reinforcement gland secretes it’s juices all over this website!

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

Maybe you should get that looked at…
Gretchen's avatar

Gretchen · 93 weeks ago

Love the comic and the new direction, but I have to say, your wife is an evil genius (by which I just mean genius) with all things jewelry related! I love her designs.

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

Im sure she will appreciate that. thanks!
This is why you never overreact when a child trips and falls.
Don’t overreact, and the child gets back up.
Overreact and the child begins to cry.

Children are very sensitive to people’s reactions.
If you treat homosexuality as being a hush hush subject, they will think something is wrong with it.
If you treat it as a matter of fact and no big deal, they will not see it any differently than anything else that takes place in their world.

Great comic today! 😀

2 replies · active 93 weeks ago

Exactly! They mirror your reaction to nearly everything. Except they amplify it.
Toon's avatar

Toon · 93 weeks ago

Very true. There’s a fine line between “not overreacting” and “underreacting,” and I usually try not to cross it by providing immediate-but-cheerful attention when a kid trips and falls. “You’re okay? Just a bump? You’re okay.”
PokeyPuppy's avatar

PokeyPuppy · 93 weeks ago

I used to teach dance classes. I remember finally being pushed to my limit with one song on a CD that was pretty misogynistic (don’t remember the song, as this was 12 years ago). I told the class of mostly 8-yr-olds that I just didn’t want to play that song again, and when asked why, I said the lyrics were saying women were there for men to play with. The righteous indignation from the whole class made me so incredibly happy. 🙂

2 replies · active 93 weeks ago

I took my kiddo to kids karaoke when she was maybe 4. Kids were singing Tea Pot and Old MacDonald and such. She sang Video Killed the Radio Star. Then a little girl, maybe 7, sang that Ke$Ha song about brushing your teeth with a bottle of jack. Her parents were just cheering along.
MrPlow99's avatar

MrPlow99 · 93 weeks ago

In their defense, JD is probably pretty good at killing the bacteria that leads to tooth decay.
It does seem like certain groups are a little obsessed with the *mechanics* of homosexuality, doesn’t it? They can’t stop focusing on the buttsex…the dirty, filthy, delicious buttsex…

Looking forward to the new buttse–I mean DIRECTION! Looking forward to the new direction!

3 replies · active 92 weeks ago

I wonder if they know straight people can have the buttsex too?
The Unknown FB's avatar

The Unknown FB · 93 weeks ago

No…they seem to skip over that aspect of ‘ro sex…especially if it involves any discussions of “pegging”.
And no, not the pirate kind…unless that’s your kink too.
In Texas, they sure did. Thats why Buttsex was specifically allowed ONLY for Straight people.
Justplainsomething's avatar

Justplainsomething · 93 weeks ago

I remember being four (this would be circa 1989) and having a conversation with my black neighbor around my own age in the Chicago suburbs about how weird it is that black people are called black when they’re actually lots of different shades of brown. Actually a pretty nice discussion.

6 replies · active 93 weeks ago

As far as I can tell, my daughter doesn’t know the terms “black people” and “white people.” We’ve never said anything to her to make her think people with different skin colors are especially different from each other. I know someone is going to come along and ruin this pretty soon, but for now she (correctly) believes that everyone is the same and everyone has a somewhat different skin color (same as hair color).

It just hit me for the first time how much emphasis we put on skin color and how little we put on hair color. Huh.

I was about three when I was out with my mother, and a African American mother and daughter walked into the same store we were in, and I said to my mother “Mom, that girl looks like Rudy!” (This being the height of the Cosby Show era). My mother, holding back the feeling of being mortified for a minute, worried I was going to say “because she’s black” was amused by my response “because she has the same hair style.”
Im in the same boat with my six year old. I know she’s going to start hearing “black people” and “white people” at school and then our magical utopian dream is going to be over.
mist's avatar

mist · 93 weeks ago

often for young children ANY difference is room for riddicule… yet they’re to young to do it for cultural or systemic reasons. a comment on skin colour is just as deep as being tall or short
I like the way your kids describe people, we can learn lots of things of their innocence. Badly, we lost it as the years pass by.
Great comic!
Dave's avatar

Dave · 93 weeks ago

Daniel Tosh has a bit on this that is pretty on the nose. Goes something like this:

“There was a commercial in California by those against gay marriage that had a little girl who said ‘Mommy! Mommy! Teacher says I can marry a princess if I want to’ WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN YOUR CHILD SAYS THIS’ and every parent in California said “Whoa! We have to TALK to our kids? F that, sorry q***rs”

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

Maybe they’re just against Revolutionary Girl Utena?
So, the alt text means that Dr. Robot is exactly like Rudolph, except where Santa never asked him to guide the sleigh.
Christina's avatar

Christina · 93 weeks ago

I think parents aren’t afraid they won’t know how to explain homosexuality to their kids, they’re afraid their kid will say what your daughter did – that they might someday want to marry a girl. Because deep down, they recognize that homosexuality isn’t a choice, it’s just part of who you are, and they want to shame any homosexual tendencies out of their child early on. :/ Extremely depressing.

3 replies · active 93 weeks ago

seriously's avatar

seriously · 93 weeks ago

@ Christina

Some folks MAY be that small-minded and assholish, but I’d think a larger segment of those unwilling or unable to talk plainly with their kids about homosexuality just aren’t equipped to answer any questions their kids have without giving them bad info or confusing their kids.

Their own fear and confusion will be amplified when they explain it to their kids. They need to get educated first, THEN teach their children. The same goes for essentially every issue.
So, you’re saying that parenting can be hard and requires actual work? I don’t think that’s really gonna fly…
Some comedian’s answer went “How many people’s lives do you think it’s worth ruining so you to not have to sit down and talk to your ugly kid for five minutes?”

As to the question, not very often. I try hard not to underestimate anyone I talk to, and kids are no exception. Last summer I had a fun hour teaching the basics of chaos magic to a seven year old, no problems at all. I left out the masturbation parts, but I’m pretty sure she figured it out anyway and played along to ease my embarrassment.

It may actually be harder to explain this to adults cause they usually assume it’s either not real or not meaningful. You try mentioning the phrase “imagination technology” to people and see how fast their eyes glaze over

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

Beth's avatar

Beth · 93 weeks ago

Excellent and totally correct with kids. We brought it up in a “Families are wonderful because they can come in so many different ways. A Mummy and a Daddy (we’re in the UK hence Mummy and not Mommy), Two Mummies or Two Daddies.” To which my four year old replied “OR TEN DADDIES!” …apparently he thinks families without a Mummy are the best because then “They can do whatever they want!” ….I think that says a lot about my household.

6 replies · active 93 weeks ago

seriously's avatar

seriously · 93 weeks ago

“To which my four year old replied “OR TEN DADDIES!” …apparently he thinks families without a Mummy are the best because then “They can do whatever they want!” ….I think that says a lot about my household.”

That, or your kid walked in on something pretty interesting one weekend while you were away.

Beth's avatar

Beth · 93 weeks ago

Dude weekend away? What’s that? . A different day he said I could be eaten by a Tiger so he and Daddy could do whatever they wanted. I reminded him that Daddy doesn’t make cakes with him but I do. He replied “You can help me make a cake and then get eaten by a tiger.” I can’t be too upset though, he did buy me flowers today because I was poorly.
We read “the day I swapped my dad for 2 goldfish” and my 4 1/2 year old said he’d swap his dad for 2 goldfish– or even 1 goldfish– but he wouldn’t swap me for anything because “SOMEONE has to make me BREAKFAST!” and he wouldn’t swap our housemate for anything “because I just love him SO SO SO MUCH” (dude draws him realistic dinosaurs stomping on houses to color). Kids!
Last night she asked us about who could have a baby. So we had to explain:

-A man and woman can make a baby
-A woman can have a baby on her own if a man or a doctor helps
-One man, one woman, Two men, Two women OR A man and a woman can adopt a baby
-Two women can have a baby if a man or a doctor helps

It was tough coming up with all the options on the spot.

Toon's avatar

Toon · 93 weeks ago

That was pretty well done. Although you could theoretically have cut it down to “Anybody can adopt a baby if they can take care of it, and most women can make babies on their own if a man or a doctor helps.”
Jeff W.'s avatar

Jeff W. · 93 weeks ago

DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 93 weeks ago

I remember being 4 years old when my parents (due to important television like “Roots”) tried to explain racism to me. “Some people think they aren’t really people.” “But they LOOK like people.” Lots of stuff I completely didn’t get.
Lots of stuff I still really don’t get.
First time I heard my grandma talking a “colored boy”, I imagined purple, green, orange – it sounded so cool!

2 replies · active 93 weeks ago

I can’t even imagine my daughter’s reaction if I tried to explain racism to her right now. She probably wouldn’t believe me.
The Unknown FB's avatar

The Unknown FB · 93 weeks ago

Imagine growing up listening to your grandparents using the “older” terms for various foods and things, especially when a term started with the “n” word.
That always made for awkward hilarity at family gatherings.
Ceri's avatar

Ceri · 93 weeks ago

This is probably my favourite comic so far.
And that includes all Firefly references.
Justplainsomething's avatar

Justplainsomething · 93 weeks ago

One of the many reasons I’m avoiding having kids (besides not being ready at all) is that my boyfriend and I really want to raise our kids to not feel like their family will judge them for their sexuality or how they express themselves, gender-wise. But my parents are very conservative and while she is very loving, my mom tends to make comments about gender that I know would just cut my kids to the heart. It’s one thing to have to deal with your kids having to encounter prejudice outside the home, but it would break my heart to see them happen within my family. Again not the ONLY reason I don’t want kids by a longshot, but definitely something I’ve thought about.

4 replies · active 93 weeks ago

Im not suggesting your rush into having kids before you’re ready, but waiting until the world changes is probably not the best way to go. Putting more people in the world that are raised by kind, open minded people goes a lot farther to improving things than trying to outlast all the hateful people ever could. My mother and my wife’s extended family are extremely conservative and homophobic. I promise you can still raise a loving and intelligent child in spite of all of that.
Did you grow up sharing the same conservative tendencies as your family, and if so, what made you more open-minded?

BTW – That comic was so adorable. You’re making it really hard to hate this new direction. (j/k – I don’t hate it, but I am mildly cautious)

I was blindly conservative/christian/homophobic/pro-life/etc until my mid teens. Then I started to feel torn in a bunch of different directions by what I was taught to believe and how I was actually perceiving the world. Little by little it all melted away. Every year I was a little less attached to the things I was raised to believe and more to what I saw as being the truth of the world and the universe. By the time I was 25 or so it was all gone.
So it was just a gradual shift in your attitudes and beliefs, not a sudden epiphany? Was there anyone or anything that helped nudge you along?
Tom's avatar

Tom · 93 weeks ago

You simply rock. Love how you explained it to your daughter. It’s things like that that give me hope.
vanessa's avatar

vanessa · 93 weeks ago

Hi, I am really enjoying the comic lately. I was wondering when you were finally going to get the family in it – that kind of story interests me – maybe because I have kids. And geez, after recent Dumbing of Age strips, it’s nice to see some cool parents!
I’m enjoying your new direction and, as a parent, I love seeing comics about parents and kids. Your anatomy for Gracie is oddly off, though, and she looks less like a child and more like a middle-aged Little Person. I think a big part of it might be how you’re drawing her glasses? IDK.

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

well, ive drawn her twice. Go look at my early drawings of me.
Beth's avatar

Beth · 93 weeks ago

My kid was talking to me about being scared and I in a desperate attempt to find something to comfort him taught him the “now I lay me down to sleep” prayer despite the fact I’m an atheist (he goes to a Church Of England school and his dad is Christian)

A couple of nights later he said he was still scared and I said “But you ask God to watch you” and he gave me such a disdainful look and replied with “Mum. God isn’t real. He’s just pretend.” like I was a massive idiot. I really couldn’t argue with that.

He still says the prayer sometimes though as it makes him feel safe but yes. Apparently my four year old decided he’s an Atheist.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Teach him the Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear., modified for kids
Then he’ll want to read Dune.

“Fear” ” is.. —the little Death—– ” Nope, too scary.
“is like leaving your shoelaces untied, and they get caught in your bicycle and make you hit the ground. BOOM.

MrPlow99's avatar

MrPlow99 · 93 weeks ago

I emailed a link to this comic to a friend of mine, and I wanted to share what she posted about it on her FB page:

“Got this from a friend today. Passed it along to another friend, who apparently really needed it. Life sometimes overwhelms me by falling so perfectly into place for tiny little moments before slipping back into craziness. These little happenings, so beautiful.”

Thank you so much, Joel.

1 reply · active 93 weeks ago

hey neat! Thanks!
mist's avatar

mist · 93 weeks ago

At five, I asked my Mum why boys married girls and not other boys.
I was told that was called homosexuality and told it was not allowed by law. I said that was silly.
I would appreciate that you keep my illegitimate children in Mexico out of your stories but the time I killed that Space Man is still ok to tell
FSilvermane's avatar

FSilvermane · 93 weeks ago

Well adjusted kids usually do grasp the whole “live and let live” idea alot better than some adults. Example being I was working a Medieval Faire in OH a few years back and witnessed a girlof maybe 6-7 floor an entire audience at a stage show. Kid wanted to be at the show but Dad did not [understand Dad was being a bit of a rude patron]. Dad was complaining about the cost to get in and the cost of food plus the “freaks playing dress up” during the stage show. At one point, what was obviously a man in a dress [long beard and hairy arms like a gorilla], comes on stage introducing himself as Olga the Milk Maid. Dad pops off quite loudly about “freaks” when the kid stands up and says “Dad, your right thats a Man in a Dress,…. and that guy over there is in a wheelchair with spikes on it [was made to look like a Chariot], and that lady there is wearing a metal bathing suit [chain mail Bikini],… but you are the only one here that looks like butt. Lets find Mom so you will stop embarrassing me”. At that point the entire audience just about gave the kid a standing ovation,….lol.
monogodo's avatar

monogodo · 92 weeks ago

Back in 2005 when Texas was voting on Prop 2, my coworker’s reason for voting for it was that he didn’t want to have to explain to his kids if a married homosexual couple were to move in next door. I wondered how he’d handle it if an unmarried homosexual couple were to move in next door.
Kaeltik's avatar

Kaeltik · 92 weeks ago

I’ve always liked this comic. You are threatening to make me love it.