Heather Has One Decade
The author of the controversial book for children of lesbian parents looks back.
BY: Lesléa Newman
Beliefnet invited Ms. Newman to reflect on how our culture has changed in the 10 years she's been living with "Heather Has Two Mommies."
It was a moment most writers never experience--or even dream of. Two years ago, at New York City's Whitney Museum of American Art, I stood staring at a copy of my book "Heather Has Two Mommies" hanging on the wall. "Heather" was part of an exhibit called "The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-2000," in a section called "The Culture Wars," along with, among other things, a photograph of Andy Warhol shooting his film "Prison" and a self-portrait of the controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. I had arrived.
In the 10 years since "Heather Has Two Mommies" was published, the book has been awarded and lauded, banned and burned. I have been called everything from an honorary lesbian mother, to America's most dangerous writer. "Heather" has been read aloud at a United States Senate meeting (and as far as I know is the only children's book in history that bears that distinction). Several people have lost their jobs because of my book, from the library page who preferred to resign rather than re-shelve it, to Joseph Fernandez, New York City's former Chancellor of Education, who supported including "Heather" in New York City's Rainbow Curriculum, a resource intended to help teachers teach diversity.
I, on the other hand, found myself with a new job, the job of defending "Heather," freedom of expression, and the rights of lesbian families as I traveled to college campuses around the country to speak about Heather and my experiences.
Ten years ago, a woman stopped me on the street and asked me to write a book about a family like hers: two happy dykes and their daughter. I fulfilled the woman's request with a book about little Heather, who has two elbows, two earlobes, two kneecaps, and two mommies.Click here to read an excerpt