Kids who grow up in loving families headed by same sex parents are a rapidly growing “market” for children’s authors, bookstores and libraries. Concerned parents, friends and a diverse network of supporters and support groups know and share the ways in which a good story can create positive images, dispel concerns, and equip young readers with tools for coping with whatever may arise from others’ ignorance and learned intolerance. At the same time, children whose parents are heterosexual count among their friends and classmates kids who have two mommies or two daddies.
No matter the circumstances, children are called upon to understand situations that are not yet mainstream. (Being “of an age” I think about my youth when we heard of “mixed marriages – meaning a friend’s parents were in a Jewish-Unitarian or Catholic-Lutheran marriage) My fervent hope is that same-sex marriage will also fade silently into a non-issue; my firm belief is that good stories well told will help along the way.
In the meantime, there are organizations and support groups and abundant advice for parents, teachers, clergy, social workers and everyone else who is trying to help. And for kids, there is a rainbow of stories trickling slowly from publishers and available in bookstores, school and public libraries. These lists are samples only – clipped at random to suggest the mix of possibilities.
Minnesotans live in a land of plenty when it comes to sharing the stories and resources of LGBT-headed families. Rainbow Rumpus, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit, is a unique and vibrant resource that stands alone as an agent for change in a field that is slow to adapt to reality. Laura Matanah, founder of Rainbow Rumpus, writes that “When we began our work in 2005 there was little general awareness that LGBT-headed families existed. That has changed, but the lack of books and public inclusion of our families hasn’t changed much. There are still only 41 published picture books about LGBT-headed families, and they are still maddeningly difficult to get a hold of in many communities.”
Rainbow Rumpus faces the dearth of print materials with a 21st Century offensive – they publish LGBT family-oriented books online – the only online literary magazine that directly serves children with LGBT parents. The mission of Rainbow Rumbus, Manatah affirms, is “to create a world where kids and teens with LGBT parents are safe, welcomed and empowered.” Because of this clear mission, manifest in some 20 titles a year published online, Rainbow Rumpus “resonates with many people, so we’ve experienced huge growth.” Evidence of Reading Rainbow’s success is the fact that just they have now launched a parallel publication for teens with LGBT parents. Rainbow Riot burst on the young adult reading scene in Spring 2012.
With spirit of hope and gusto Matanah reflects on a successful publishing venture, built on a shoestring , supported bt a host of faithful volunteers: “We exist only because, right now, it is both hard to publish and hard to access stories about kids and teens from LGBT-headed homes. We’re changing that reality.”
Cause for a celebration – and Rainbow Rumpus is throwing just that on Saturday, June 16 and all during the month of June, Gay Pride Month. The first cause for celebration is that families can now link to Rainbow Rumpus’ first picture book of the year. The Girl Who Stole the Stars, a delightful treat for younger bibliophiles, is now available for download and printout.
On Saturday, June 16, 10:00-Noon CDT, Rainbow Rumpus will host a mammoth public event as part of the Gay Pride Festival. Global thinkers that they are, staff and volunteers are working on a live stream of RR’s Pride event, “Celebrating Our Family Stories”. The live event is at the Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall. It’s free and open to all. For those who can’t be at the live event, it’s all streamed online. Families, especially children aged 3-8, should link to the live stream on the Rainbow Rumpus home page.
Be who you are and say what you feelbecause those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. -Dr. Seuss