Janine Schall, blogger at Word of Words, brings us a weekly series that examines the inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) characters in children’s literature. In the first of the three-week series, Schall gives us a brief history of the publication of LGBT inclusive books, and how they examined the subjects:
It took longer, however, for openly lesbian or gay parents to appear in picture storybooks in the United States. While a book called Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin (Bosche) appeared in Denmark in 1981 and then in Great Britain in 1983, the first picture book with same sex parents in the United States wasn’t published until 1989. Heather Has Two Mommies (Newman) was published by the small LGBT publishing company Alyson, which established a children’s imprint, Alyson Wonderland, and quickly published 13 children’s picture books with lesbian or gay characters in the next ten years. This included Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Wilhoite in 1990, which was the first picture book with gay fathers.
Many of the early books with lesbian or gay characters were primarily published through small, niche publishers. A few major publishing companies did produce the occasional picture book with a lesbian or gay character, including Oliver Button is a Sissy (dePaola, 1979), Losing Uncle Tim (Jordan, 1989), and My Two Uncles (Vigna, 1995).