The thing is, though, you can say “it’s only a story” all you like, but how a person relates to stories says a lot about how they relate to the real world, because stories are how we learn to relate to elements of the real world outside of our immediate experience. If you accept something uncritically in fiction, then when you come across a similar issue or dynamic in the real world, you’re probably not going to spend a lot of time examining it. On the other hand, if a story has told you “this is something that is exceptional - exceptionally good, exceptionally problematic, either way, something outside of the ordinary and deserving of your attention,” you’re primed to examine and engage with it if and when you encounter it in the real world.
We all have stories that influenced us deeply at a formative stage, and I think it’s entirely valid to be concerned with what this story is demonstrating to the younger members of the fandom. There are kids in this fandom for whom Homestuck is filling a similar role as, for me, did Harry Potter, or Digger, or Discworld. And I think that’s a good thing, over all! Homestuck has some great things to say about the nature of friendship, and personal responsibility in the face of the inevitable, and the value of humor. But it also means that those of us who have our heads more or less screwed on maybe ought to take a bit of responsibility in making sure that the younger crowd recognizes that as talented and well-meaning as Hussie is, he’s not infallible.
I think OP is talking more about the fandom fighting going on, how it seems to behave as if the most imperative queer issue of the day is about how you depict Dirk Strider etc.’s sexuality.
I understand you do have some good points, but I think Homestuck was never meant to be something that a younger crowd grows up with and looks up to. I mean seriously Homestuck looks more like something aimed at people 17 and over.
Although its good for kids to grow up with great stories, kids have to be taught to think critically about them too. You can’t just let stories raise kids or teens, and you can’t put the burden of lessons soley on an author who is only human. This runs into the same reasons why I think the concept of childhood role models and heroes is rather stupid; it puts a human being up to a standard of perfection that if that human fails it the many children who look up to them become dissapointed. At least they get a cold slap of reality early on.
Which is why, I suppose, I’m arguing that a large, critical fanbase is a good thing. Practically speaking, it doesn’t matter whether HS was meant to be a kids’ story - there’s no question that there’s a strong contingent of young teenagers in the fandom, some of whom have been reading the comic for a couple of years now. Saying “well it’s not really for you” isn’t going to make them skip off to find more age appropriate material. (What does “age appropriate” mean for a fourteen-year-old, anyway? Aside from the strong language, Homestuck is positively tame compared to a lot of PG13 movies. YA Lit frequently covers very dark themes, and some kids that age are already moving on to “grownup” books.) And insofar as Homestuck has never been behind a warning page for adult material, I think we have to consider that Hussie has always been open to young readers.
I suppose I’m invoking a “it takes a village” mentality - the younger fans are here, they’re reading the comic, they’re following the fandom. The fandom ought to take some responsibility for the safety of our younger members. Sometimes that means making sure resources are available for topics like con etiquette and safety. Sometimes that means open discourse about the issues raised in the comic, both the ones handled well and the ones that could have been done better.
(And while I certainly agree that Dirk’s sexuality is not “the imperative queer issue of the day,” I do kind of feel like the question of how we relate to members of the queer community who are not comfortable with the “standard” labels and identities is an important one?)