Friday, November 16, 2007

Frog and Toad are gay

My favorite children’s book of all time is the “Frog and Toad” series. There were four easy to read chapter books written in the 1970’s: “Frog and Toad are Friends”, “Frog and Toad Together” “Frog and Toad All Year” and “Days With Frog and Toad”. I loved reading these books to my kids. At the time I had not come out. I envied the special relationship Frog and Toad had with each other.

My oldest daughter called a couple weeks ago all excited. She recently started a job as a children’s librarian and had checked in a copy of the children’s book, “And Tango Makes Three”. It is a children’s picture book based on a true story of two male penguins that hatch and raise an orphan egg. “Have you heard of the book? You have to get it. It is so cute.” Although I don’t have a copy, I am very familiar with it. In fact, according to the American Library Association it is the most challenged book requested to be removed from public libraries and school shelves because it promotes homosexuality, and is anti-family, and unsuited to age group. “Harry Potter’s” author, J.K. Rowling, is frequently challenged for claims that she promotes occult themes. Now that she says Dumbledore is gay, she will now be challenged for promoting homosexuality too even though there is nothing in the series that implies that.

What surprises me is that none of these wacko fundamentalist have discovered or figured out that the “I Can Read” children’s four-book series, “Frog and Toad”, is a primer for same-sex relationships. Whether you and your buddy are “best friends forever” or a married couple, this series will model the skills needed to have a long-term same sex relationship. The series takes you through the everyday circumstances of Frog and Toad with simplicity and humor, without moralizing, on what characterizes an enduring gay relationship: compassion, affection, gratitude, generosity, creativity, thoughtfulness, laughter, and sharing life together.

In our relationship, my husband, E, is the tall, lean Frog and I am the shorter, stockier Toad. Frog (E) is clearly the calmer of the two and the one more eager to get outdoors and to organize and plan things. Toad (me) is more temperamental and impatient, and a consummate worrier. He is frequently repentant and constantly devoted to his more rational counterpart. Toad (me) regularly grumbles and whines, while Frog (E) quietly and thoughtfully goes about helping his friend get over his upsets. Like Frog, I have a hard time not eating cookies and I also look funny in a bathing suit.

I had assumed that author and illustrator Arnold Lobel was gay because I had come across his name on the AIDS Quilt website. When I looked up biographical information on him I found he was married with two kids. The cause of death listed in the obituary was cardiac arrest on December 4, 1987. It could be he wasn’t gay but had contacted AIDS from an infected blood transfusion or blood products. (Or maybe like me, he lived a closeted life as a gay married man.)

TRIVIA: The Broadway musical “A Year with Frog and Toad” was produced by Lobel’s daughter, set designer Adrianne Lobel, and stared the designer's husband, Mark Linn-Baker, as the lovably cantankerous Toad.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

He was gay but lived kind of a double life. He got married back in the day when it was hard to come out. Frog and Toad were an outlet for him to express his homosexuality. I know this because I used to work with some people who knew him.

Jeff said...

We saw a production of A Year with Frog and Toad in Bethesda, back when we were living in the D.C. area, and loved it. It was a lot of fun.

Daniel said...

I grew up reading the Frog and Toad books...and now find myself in a stable gay relationship. I haven't thought about these books in years, but now i'm motivated to buy them for our apt. thanks for the reminder!

Lex Luthor said...

Thanks for presenting a wonderful way for me to introduce the concept of same-sex relationships to my twin sons. They love frog and toad, and oddly enough, so does their mother!

Anonymous said...

you are fucking gay idiots get a life you ignorant bastards

Mary B said...

This IS a life, you sad, pathetic coward.

I am grateful that they choose share this brilliant, brave and beautiful (forgive the alliteration) life with us.

Nikko said...

I remember those books. I'm only 14 now, but even when I was in second grade, only 7 years old, I figured Frog and Toad were gay. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one.

And to the "Anonymous" above me, you're a jerk. Maybe YOU should get a life, because you are clearly the ignorant one.

JIM from Pittsburgh said...

my 7 yr old and I got on you site by looking up his favorite books thanks for the false propaganda this was a great example to teach my son 1st corinthians ch6@7 on how not to live your life based on your urges and desires on not base your entire life on one inapropriat behavior thanks agian

GuyDads said...

JIM from Pittsburgh demonstrates an excellent lesson:
You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught

You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be carefully taught

Jonathan said...

Hey guys, I enjoy your blog very much. I wrote a column about children's books and just did one about books which present same-sex relationships. The bulk of it is about And Tango Makes Three, but I did also make the connection with the Frog and Toad series. I did a google search on "Frog" + "Toad" + "gay" to see if I was the only one who thought of this, and I thus found your column.

I think there are several other examples out there, including Mole and Rat from the Wind in the Willows.

Anyway, I'd love it if you or anyone who's reading this would visit
http://criticalmassesmedia.com/2010/09/19/tales-and-their-tellers-4-were-here-were-queer-and-were-anthropomorphic/

and let me know what you think.

Anonymous said...

So you just assume without even knowing the man that he was gay and frog and toad was a story about homosexuality...Pathetic, you people are are so fuckin stupid, no wonder no one can stand ya.

Anonymous said...

JIM from pittsburgh and the other haters including anonymous.
you need to stop secretly being gay, you love gay and you know it. why would you even go out of your way to cruise? you may have comments on more than one gay-oriented blog. stop hating yourself, its spreading to everyone else. your wife is hiding her gayness through you. think about it.

Anonymous said...

I loved Frog and Toad when I was a kid, and my husband and I love reading Frog and Toad to our four-year-old son. :)

When I was young, I didn't question their friendship, but as an adult I see them as a sweet and loving gay couple. I hope that my son, whether gay or straight, feels safe and loved and is accepting of others.

Thanks for sharing your life and your thoughts. I really enjoyed reading your blog.

-Heather (Illinois)

Anonymous said...

Jim from Pittsburgh - your type is the epitome of hate to me. I'm a straight mother of twin boys and was reading this beautiful blog happily until I came across your disappointing post. Tell you what: Fill your poor son's mind with hate and I'm going to purchase multiple copies of these books to donate to our local school. You know, to undo the damage to innocent children that your type does. Thanks for the brilliant idea!

GuyDads - That poem is so true. Thanks for sharing. One day, ugliness like Jim from Pittsburgh teaches will die out. Maybe not in our lifetime, but it will happen. Take comfort in that thought.

Anonymous said...

What a strange set of comments. Gay vs Gay Haters. I've been trying for a long time to understand this sort of thing. Someone is gay. Who cares? That's their road in life. Just go live your thing without the promotion and haters quit your hate.

Anonymous said...

From our first introduction to Arnold Lobel's books, my straight family loved reading Frog and Toad books. One day, our 10 year-old son informed us nonchalantly that Frog and Toad were gay. This was 15 years ago. The AIDS epidemic was in full bloom and the politics around gender differences were beginning to emerge from the dark ages. My husband and I were taken aback. This probability had never occurred to us; how was it that our young son noticed? Looking back, I am pleased that he felt free to express his observation about Frog and Toad without judgement. He simply observed and appreciated them for who they were. Beautiful. As adults, our two children remain free from the prejudice that plagued me in my growing up years. Thanks for the opportunity to tell this story. Best wishes to all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post. I was looking for information on the life of Arnold Lobel because he is a favorite of mine and my kids. I had the same questions you did and found your blog. For me the possibility adds a layer of interest. He also collaborated with his wife on books; whatever the nature of his relationship with his wife it sounds like they were a close, creative family.

Anonymous said...

Quote: Shewey, Don. "Culture Vulture: Adrianne Loble, Carly Simon, and the Oscar Nominees." another eye opens.com/2010/03/04/culture-vulture-adrianne-lobel-carly-simon-and-the-oscar-nominees/

"...she produced of A Year with Frog and Toad, based on the famous children’s book by her father, Arnold. It turns out that Andy grew up on the Frog and Toad books and was thrilled to meet the author’s daughter. She told us that the books have a big gay following and that her father was a closeted gay guy who only came out late in life. (He died in 1987.)" Arnold Lobel died of Aids in 1987. He was supported and loved by his creative family throughout his life.

Anonymous said...

He was gay, but lived a closeted life. His former partner, an Inn owner, resides in Provincetown, MA.

Anonymous said...

Frog and Toad are not gay. Frog and Toad are amphibians. Amphibians don't have issues with sexual orientation. They just let it all go into the water.

And for humans there are many choices. And whatever our choices are for adult sexual orientation, surely we can leave space enough for children's stories about frogs and toads. Don't co-opt story time. Leave space.

Anonymous said...

I never thought they were gay. I thought it was more of a friendship thing. They didn't live together. Guys can have friendship can't they?

NoSpamGuy said...

It's a story about friendship. Guys of all kinds enjoy and need friends. I don't see it important to make assumptions about their orientation. They were loyal and helpful and caring. Every guy (and gal) would be pleased to be part of a friendship like Frog and Toad's

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