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May 8, 2008

And Tango Makes... My Kids Gay?

2007 was a fun year at Evil Slutopia because we had not one, but two "this might make my kids gay" scares to writer about! First, there was the awesome list of "gay bands to watch out for" and then there was that whole soy makes kids gay theory. Seeing as the lesbians are being sued by the Lesbians and International Day Against Homophobia is coming up on May 17th, we thought we'd talk about one more "this might make my kids gay" scare from 2007 that is still going strong.

According to the American Library Association, the book at the top of the "Most Challenged" list - for the second year in a row - is the controversial And Tango Makes Three. Apparently this book is totally evil and horrible and it will corrupt our children and turn them into gay deviants. Or at least that's what all the Christian, homophobia right-wing crazies are trying to claim.

I first heard about this book last year, while watching LOGO (my favorite gay channel) and immediately ran to the computer to buy a copy because that's what evil sluts do when they hear that something is evil and gay.

In case you're not already familiar with the book (which is hard to believe since it's getting an insane amount of media coverage for a children's book), it tells the story of two male chinstrap penguins who bond and mate (and refuse female companionship for each other's company). They even went so far as to build a nest and tried to hatch a rock (seeing as they were both male, were never able to produce any actual eggs). One day the zookeeper gave them an abandoned egg to care for, so they hatched and raised a baby penguin, Tango.

Consider it a "Tango Has Two Daddies" for the animal kingdom. Outrageous stuff right? Yeah, only not.

First off all, the book - by Justin Richardson, M.D., and Peter Parnell - tells a true story of actual events that occurred at the Central Park Zoo in New York City (of course it happened in New York, where else?) Homosexual behavior has always been widespread among hundreds of species of animals. So somehow this true account of an actual (and common) natural phenomenon that occurs in the animal kindgom should be banned because it portrays homosexuality as "natural". Oh wait and it also implies that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt and raise children.

And did I mention that the book has also won several national awards?
  • American Library Association Notable Children's Book
  • ASPCA Henry Bergh Children's Book Award
  • Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award
  • Nick Jr. Family Magazine Best Book of the Year
  • Bank Street Best Book of the Year
  • Cooperative Children's Book Council Choice
  • CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book
  • Finalist for Lambda Literary Award
I could maybe understand the bigots getting their panties in a bunch if it was one of the more blatantly pro-gay books, like Heather Has Two Mommies or Daddy's Roommate (and yes, I have read both of these books and they're awesome). Those books, for example, are children's fiction designed specifically to teach kids about homosexuality and same-sex couples. They're primarily aimed at children who already have a GLBT member of their family although personally I think all children could benefit from the message that homosexuality isn't evil or gross (or at least the message that it's okay to be "different").

And Tango Makes Three, while technically trying to do the same thing, is different. It is a true story about a real event about two actual penguins. It happened. And for a while you could go to the Central Park Zoo and actually see them. (You might still be able to but I'm sure, since this all happened in 2000 and I don't know the lifespan of the average gay penguin. Or maybe they moved to San Francisco or something. It's possible).

Now this book being challenged - still! - pisses me off for a few reasons.

One, because obviously I think homophobia is wrong. I don't think this book necessarily has a gay agenda. For the most part it's just a cute story about adorable penguins who did something kind of unique. But okay, obviously it has some intentions (I believe the authors are a same-sex couple, but I can't confirm that as the only websites that specifically say this information seem to be anti-gay so I don't trust their facts). That doesn't mean it promotes homosexuality, so much as just portrays homosexuality as a normal, natural fact of life that does exist.

Two, I also think that censorship is wrong. I believe strongly in freedom of speech and free access of information.

For the top ten most challenged books from 2000-2005: Most Challenged Books of 21st Century. We recommend you rush out and buy all of them right now!! We found this great site called Forbidden Library that has banned and challenged books for sale. If you're specifically looking for GLBT-themed books, check out Two Lives Publishing or the Gay and Lesbian Book Blog).

But for some advice on real ways you can fight censorship and keep books available in your libraries, check out the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom.

1 comment:

Chiquita said...

Has anyone read the comments about "And Tango Makes Three"? Titillating, I tell you.