Any children’s book about gay families is inherently political, yet Leslea Newman, the 37-year-old author of Heather Has Two Mommies and Gloria Goes to Gay Pride, says she never expected her books to stir an uproar — she didn’t expect them to circulate outside of the gay community.
Newman, who is a lesbian, wrote Heather, her first children’s book, in 1989 as a favor to a lesbian mother who couldn’t find any books for kids on the subject. She initially published Heather herself and sold it from her living room, until Alyson Publications (which specializes in gay literature) bought the book in 1990.
”Books can be so useful to validate a life,” says Newman, who has no kids of her own. ”My books are not only for the children they’re about but for their friends as well.”
Newman, now working on two new children’s books (one with a gay theme) at her home in western Massachusetts, believes that kids themselves have no inherent resistance to her work. ”It’s the adults,” she says, ”who have been unable to take the sex out of homosexuality. These aren’t books about sex or sex education. They’re about families.”