New Children's Book Gives Visibility to Gay Grandpas

Guest post by Robert A. Schanke, author of "Katy Has Two Grampas" 

The catalyst for this book began several years ago. I was surprised and overwhelmed when one of my granddaughters introduced me to her entire schoolroom as her gay grampa who also was married. About that same time, her sister was undergoing speech therapy for her lisp and had an incident in the classroom where the teacher misunderstood her when talking about her grampas. My daughter and I came up with the idea of somehow incorporating these two elements into one story. 

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Anyone searching for a children’s picture book that clearly features two gay, married grandpas will recall coming up empty-handed, or at least confused. Few books do little more than hint at the two grandpas as being gay; the subtlety erases any clear signs identifying a gay relationship. Keeping the gay identity of the characters so disguised, so camouflaged, seemed to us to limit the potential of the stories. We saw the need for at least some children’s picture books to portray gay characters who are more open about their sexuality, especially now that same-sex marriage is legal, same-sex couples can adopt, and discrimination in the workplace is prohibited. The sexual identity of these grandfathers and the lives they are leading should not be ignored. The children who are read these books could benefit by seeing more full representation–families like theirs, or families of friends, and perhaps even people like themselves. 

After writing the first draft we received positive feedback from elementary school teachers and we began the arduous task of finding a publisher, learning early on that most of them required our having an agent. Unfortunately, our attempts to secure an agent were fruitless. Yet another stipulation from publishers was that they, not we, would supply the illustrations. Since we saw the book as being based on our family, that option did not appeal to us. 

Years passed with our continuing to talk about the idea of the book but with no real progress. Then last March after returning from a vacation, Julie surprised me! She had found a publisher AND an illustrator. For the next nine months, we worked closely as a team with WiseInk Creative Publishing helping to perfect the story. The final two pages of the book are images of our real family, intending to remind readers that this is not a fantasy story; it is not make-believe. It is a story that reveals our belief in the possibilities of a diverse family.

During my forty years of teaching theatre on the college level, I authored eight books focusing on LGBTQIA+ artists in the American theatre. Three of them were finalists for the prestigious Lambda Literary Award and one was selected for the Best G/L Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award by Foreword Magazine.

Co-authoring this children's picture book, however, has been a highlight of my publishing career. In being autobiographical, it has allowed me to express my joy of being a gay grampa and part of a loving, modern family.

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For more information about Katy Has Two Grampas  or to pick up your copy please visit https://gayswithkids.shop/products/katy-has-two-grampas

 


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