Sooo. Sit down, let’s talk. In this strip we’re getting to one of the central conflicts of the storyline, and I want to take this opportunity to step out from behind the curtain and chat about what’s going on. I don’t normally do this, but for reasons that are obvious I think it’s necessary this time. The update schedule means it’s going to take a while for it to become clear where I’m going with this, and because it’s going to take a while, you’re pretty much going to have to make a decision now whether you’re coming with me on this journey or not. So I’m here to tell you: relax and get aboard.

If you follow me on Twitter you already know where I’m planting my flag politically, but I don’t want Life on the Fourth Floor to become about my politics. I don’t want its characters to all become mouthpieces for my views (e.g. I would never call someone a homo but Amy absolutely would and she’s not a mouthpiece for my politics), talking in perfect agreement with each other and staying woke. Some comics get mileage out of that kind of material, but I don’t think Fourth Floor is the place for that, and I want this website to be a place where you can step away from the craziness going on in the world right now and get away from that.

That’s why I’m not going to get into my politics. Nor am I going to reveal where I fall on the Kinsey scale, nor am I going to regale you with extracts from the gender theory classes I took at university. This isn’t about that. This storyline is about something specific. They say you should write what you know. I think that term gets abused and leads to a lot of screenplays about white men with writer’s block (but then I’ve made a lot of comics about a white man having writer’s block, so who am I to judge?) but I think I need to reveal the extent to which it applies now.

Before I met my wife, I asked a lot of young women out on dates. In one case it was  the day before, but that’s another story. In the cases where the women knew me either in passing or as anything more than an acquaintance, the majority (i.e. more than 50%) thought I was gay. I mean, they would respond by saying “Wait, I thought you were gay,” followed by a polite decline. And some people at school made fun of me for being gay, or more accurately for exhibiting what they perceived as gay behaviour. And there was a theory amongst some girls I knew that I was gay. You know, it was a thing. A thing to the point where if I had come out as gay a lot of people, maybe even some members of my family, wouldn’t have been surprised.

And I get it. I’m not the most macho guy. I hate sports, I love musical theatre and Disney princess movies, I was in all the school plays and kind of sensitive. But you already know, because I just mentioned my wife in the previous paragraph, that I am not Kinsey-6 gay. Yet, weirdly, I do know the pain of being bullied at school for being gay, so if you’re reading this and you were bullied at school for being gay then, you know, tell me when we meet in person and we can hug each other.

A lot of the time, writing, but especially comedy writing, is about delving into painful memories and mining them for material, taking the uglier side of ourselves and our history and crafting it into something entertaining.  I wanted to make a storyline in which Jack finds out Amy, his big unrequited crush, thinks he’s gay. And then because I was writing an episode of a sitcom around that concept I wanted to see how far I could push it without taking it too far. I handed the script to my alpha readers and asked them if they thought it would offend anyone. They said no, so hopefully we’ll all be able to have fun with this, whatever our views and experiences and wherever our sexual orientations are orientated. I just wanted to check in and let you know that whatever happens between now and the end of the storyline, I am not making fun of anyone for being gay. I know what that feels like and it sucks. I am making fun of how a young man, unsure of himself, reacts to a girl he likes thinking he’s gay, because I know what that’s like even better. Enjoy!

P.S. I really hate it when comic strip writers pop up to explain their damn jokes, I really think it takes the fun out of it, but I hate it even more when some internet entertainer guy I like suddenly reveals himself to have secretly been a Nazi the whole time and it just turns my stomach to imagine people speculating about my politics. So yeah. Just FYI. Not a Nazi, I am pro gay marriage and gay rights 100%. Can’t believe I have to say that in twenty-bloody-seventeen but there it is. DM me if you have any further questions.