"I'm not homophobic": Former Daily Wildcat cartoonist speaks out after being fired
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Marcelino Benito
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Call it the cartoon heard across campus and the country. Four panels of drawings that left students stunned.
"I was appalled," said Juan Pererya.
The cartoon printed in the student newspaper, the Arizona Daily Wildcat, shows a father, warning his son that if he's ever gay, he'll shoot him, roll him up in a carpet and throw him off a bridge.
It ends with the punch line: "That's what you call a fruit roll up." The problem is, the gay community isn't laughing.
"Killing gay youth and throwing them over a bridge, that's not funny," says Pereyra.
Many are calling the man behind the controversial cartoon, D.C. Parsons, a homophobe.
Nine On Your Side reporter Marcelino Benito asked Parsons if he was a homophobe.
"Absolutely not, that's ridiculous," he says.
He says the goal of his cartoon was to spur conversation about homophobia among older generations. But if that was the message, the audience didn't get it. The joke fell flat.
"I sincerely meant it as humor," says Parsons. "No malicious connotations whatsoever."
The cartoon ran on Tuesday. By Thursday, the Daily Wildcat axed Parsons.
The paper also issued an apology, but critics say it's not enough. An on-line petition keeps getting more popular by the hour, already up to more than 4,000 signatures.
There is also growing pressure for the Daily Wildcat's Editor-In-Chief, Kristina Bui, to be fired as well. But Parsons says no one else should be punished for his cartoon.
Pereyra tells 9OYS this cartoon may lead young people to think their parents will say similar things if they tell them they are gay.
"The worst fear is that something like that will happen to them when they come out," he says. "This cartoon only furthers that fear."
And that's something Parsons says he regrets, and he wants to make it right.
"I'm sincerely sorry," says Parsons. "I didn't mean any harm, anything wrong to homosexuality."
Parson admits he knows he's hurt a lot of people. He tells 9OYS if he had the chance to do it all over again, he would write the cartoon very differently.
Click here to read the Daily Wildcat's full statement.
Click here to read D.C. Parson's full statement.