I can’t even begin to express how happy I am that the Archie comics are finally getting a gay character. As I’ve written before, Archie & Co. are to a certain extent, the participants in some of the most iconic relationships in American pop culture history. Adding a gay character to that roster is, in a small way, validation of the idea that gay teenagers are a standard feature of American high school life. I don’t think it’s too much to say that Archie comics instilled in me the idea that the ideal friend group would be comfortably mixed-race and mixed-gender. Obviously the comics were somewhat late to add black characters like Chuck Clayton and Nancy Woods, who were introduced as token characters in the 1970’s, and became more prominent in storylines in the 1990’s, when I was at the height of my Archie obsession. But with Archie dating Valerie Brown, the smartest of the Pussycats, and this latest character, the comic has, albeit belatedly, embraced a progressive vision of how kids today date. If the 6-year-olds who start reading the comics today take for granted when they get to high school that there will be gay couples, and interracial couples, that’ll count as progress.