Something for the Kiddies

TangoRemember all the hoopla a while back about gay penguins?

There were the gay penguins at the Bremerhaven Zoo in Germany that biologists were introducing to females in an attempt to make them go straight, and there were the 20 pairs of gay penguins discovered at a zoo in Japan, and then there were Roy and Silo, two male penguins at the Central Park zoo that seemed to be deeply in love. I’ll quote again the New York Times article on them:

“Roy and Silo, two chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, are completely devoted to each other. For nearly six years now, they have been inseparable. They exhibit what in penguin parlance is called “ecstatic behavior”: that is, they entwine their necks, they vocalize to each other, they have sex. Silo and Roy are, to anthropomorphize a bit, gay penguins. When offered female companionship, they have adamantly refused it. And the females aren’t interested in them, either.”

Well, two friends of mine, Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, who are, in fact, a devoted couple as well, have written a children’s book about Roy and Silo called And Tango Makes Three. It tells the story of how Roy and Silo, in an attempt to raise a child of their own, try in vain to sit on a stone so it will hatch (hey, nobody said penguins had the biggest IQs). When zookeepers notice this, they give the two gay penguins an egg from another mother that has no bird to care for it. Roy and Silo then take turns sitting on the egg until (through the magic of Mother Nature) they have a chick. The story is, in fact, entirely true.

The great thing about the book is that it introduces children to the concept of homosexuality without being as in-your-face as something like Heather Has Two Mommies. It also happens to have cute-as-hell penguins in it. When I had lunch with Peter and Justin the other day Justin said that at several readings that had been held, the kids were unfazed about the fact that two daddies were raising the chick, and really just wanted to know where that egg came from!

The book is charming and part of the Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers series (recommended for ages 4-8). It will be interesting to see whether this book generates any heat from the right. It’s definitely more upfront about gay parenting than the Postcards from Buster episode that Education Secretary Margaret Spellings had nixed from PBS. I can only imagine how the anti-gay foster parent opponents in Texas would react.