Fernando Velez is the creator of Class6, a comic series about LGBTQ+ superheroes who are part of the the Kraven Comics Universe. The following is an edited version of an interview which was featured on promohomoTV in the USA, and can be seen in full HERE.
From this issue of Scene magazine we will be including episodes of Class6 as a supplement to the magazine each month.
Fernando comes from from Yauco, Puerto, which he describes as “a small town continually rocked by earthquakes, hurricanes, and a struggling economy”.
“I wandered the streets of my small town, hearing the sounds of our music and the rhythm of the island, but my mother had lost her best friend from AIDS and when I came out, she struggled in accepting me because she didn’t want to lose another son.
“At that time, HIV/AIDS was considered by many as a ‘gay disease’. For me, being young (Fernando is now in his thirties) and being gay; trying to be myself was difficult. My three attempts at suicide ended with me being hospitalised in a psychiatric ward as well as weeks in a religious conversion camp.
“This world that I was caught in was crushing me. I was just a young kid who lost his big brother, (Fernando’s brother died of cancer when he was six, and Fernando was five) whose dad was an alcoholic, whose mum was trying to provide stability to our family with both love and food on the table.
“I didn’t know what to do but to get out of the house, to walk, to listen to the music, and to imagine a different alternative reality with characters who could create new possibilities, new destinies, new paths forward.
“I recalled reading comics as a child as a form of escape yet not being able to relate to any of the heroes that could help empower me. So, as I wandered the streets, I envisioned a collection of gay people who could save the world, save my world, save me from my disillusionment.
“Class6 is more than a series of comic books. It represents gay life in comics and shows the hardship in life that many in our community go through. It’s a narrative of freedom; for that kid who was me, Fernando, and for the many like me who never knew of heroes who could lead to saving us, heroes that could make our voice be heard, to create a better world, to have equality for all.
“Our main characters are introduced and followed throughout the series, with their arcs masterfully woven together in each episode. I created six main characters representing our community and some sub communities; Leather, Twink, Bear, Drag Queen, Lesbian, Transgender.
“We also aim for diversity, and some of our heroes are from China, Venezuela, Uganda, and other countries.
“We aim to provide to the LGBTQ community the rightly deserved representation in the comic book industry. With high-quality pages and attention to detail, our artists give an LGBTQ-centric comic book.
“Available in different languages and on multiple digital platforms, we will always do our best to make Kraven Comics accessible from anywhere in the world, focusing on inclusivity and awareness of social justice issues. At Kraven Comics, we believe anyone can be a Hero.
“As we move towards our goal of being an LGBTQ icon in the comic book world, we want to influence communities to proudly stand for who they are and for whom they love. We want to support and invest in organisations that work closely with the issues we highlight in our stories.
“Watch. Listen. Be Inspired. Perhaps even discover your own inner Superhero.”