Billie is an ex-soldier in the post-apocalypse sci-fi world of 2052. Billie also happens to be gender fluid — the first such character in the mainstream comic book world.
Local director, producer and musician Gary Davis is the creative force behind “Billie.” Davis, 58, was adamant about making a gender-fluid character, which was normalized and not made to be such a big deal. Through his art, Davis said he expresses his feelings and ideas in ways that are better than expressing them through words.
“I don’t know whether Billie has any male or female body parts,” Davis said. “I didn’t want the reader to identify Billie as either male or female.”
"Billie" is currently in its sixth edition of the comic book series.
Davis thinks that there should be “as many comic book characters as there are people.” Not just gender-fluid characters, but characters that represent the whole LGBT spectrum.
Fellow artist, Rolando Chang Barrero is a member and activist in the LGBT community. “This is what I have been advocating for my whole life … for someone to bring this forth in a casual way.”
As a member of the LGBT community, it is important to Barerro that news such as someone coming out, or someone identifying as gender-fluid is viewed as normal and not as some big deal.
“We need to support the allies as well and understand their situations,” noted Barerro, owner of The Box Gallery in West Palm Beach. He gives his thanks to the allies, people who support the LGBT community, such as Davis.
In an effort to normalize things that would be considered “taboo,” Barerro tries to make them normal in his exhibitions. His upcoming one, “PRIVATE AFFAIRS I PUBLIC DISPLAYS,” opens Feb. 12 at The Box Gallery.
Davis, who lives in The Acreage, premiered the sixth edition of “Billie” at The Box Gallery in early December that included animation, soundtrack and poster signing. Davis describes himself as a mix between Quincy Jones and George Lucas.
“I’m more like Quincy Jones and George Lucas combined because I built my own empire,” Davis said.
Creating and making Billie taught Davis a lot. It taught him more about the community and it showed him who was really behind his idea of the character. “A lot of people wanted to stop helping with the project because of Billie’s character,” Davis said.
Davis got the idea for Billie’s character from the show “House of Lies.” Rebecca Edison Taylor-Klaus, known otherwise as Bex Taylor-Klaus, was a huge inspiration. Davis said he could never figure out if the character was supposed to be a boy or a girl, igniting the embers for Billie.
The connection between Davis and Billie goes beyond character and creator however; it connects on a more personal and spiritual level for Davis.
“I identify as an African American male, so Billie’s struggle and the African American struggle are the same because people do not understand what we are going through,” he said.
He identifies with the LGBT community because he can relate his struggle as an African American man, to the struggle of the LGBT community.
“In order to change the world, I got to act as an example,” Davis said.