Perfect for Valentines of All Ages: “Worm Loves Worm”

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Hey you. Yes, YOU. The sorry so-and-so who’s forgotten it’s Valentine’s Day and is now scrambling to find a last-minute present for your boo.

Why don’t you skip the tacky bodega carnations and dusty CVS chocolates this year, and go with a gift that really means something? Why don’t you head on down to your neighborhood bookshop and pick up a copy of Worm Loves Worm?

This book, written by J.J. Austrian, and illustrated by this guy, is a thoughtful, poignant, adorable celebration of love in all its wormy splendor. Its simple, cheery illustrations and sweet, inclusive message have won the book heaps of praise, including a spot on The Advocate’s “21 LGBT Picture Books Every Kid Should Read” list, and today’s great write-up in the New York Times Sunday Book Review:

J. J. Austrian and Mike ­Curato’s “Worm Loves Worm” … brilliantly explores the idea of love between two beings, regardless of gender (or species) and despite societal pressures.

Curato’s spare but sure silhouetted images and Austrian’s straightforward text are a perfect match to deliver the simple story of two characters who just want to declare their love and commit to each other.

And of course, the story of Worm holds tremendous personal significance for Mike and me, which my hubby explains with touching eloquence in his own writing about its release:

Throughout our lifetimes, each of us will be criticized for something that we cannot change (in other words: for being yourself). During those times, it’s paramount to remember what is most important in your life. For me, love is what is most important. Some people see the love that I have for Dan as being “different.” I beg to differ. In Worm Loves Worm, no matter the opinions and criticisms of others, Worm and Worm hold fast to what is most important to them: each other.

Sure, a few angry wormophobes have been upset by this book. For them, its depiction of G-rated affection between sexless garden-dwellers, and the image of spritely cartoon insects throwing their friends a party, crosses a line. (The objections usually go something like: “I have no problem with the wormos personally, blah blah blah. I’m just worried that the wormos are trying to EAT MY BABIES.”)

But if Worm comes with any “agenda,” it’s nothing more sinister than the wish to offer a positive lesson in open-mindedness, acceptance, and love.

Though marketed as a children’s book, Worm Loves Worm is a story about eschewing rigid categorization. So, whether it’s for a dear little one, or a grownup sweetheart, this book’s heart-tugging, family-friendly message makes it the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for loves of all ages.

Now get out there and grab your Valentine a copy before this holiday is over!

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What “The Birdcage” Did for Me: A Short Tribute to Robin Williams

Sometime after the release of The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams, I remember my mom telling me how much she had enjoyed the film. It was a revelation that stuck with me because I was surprised to see that she – a devout, lifelong Catholic – was completely unfazed by the film’s sympathetic (yet over-the-top) portrayal of a “non-traditional” family. The movie depicted the de facto marriage of two unabashedly flamboyant gay nightclub owners, along with their having raised a seemingly happy, healthy, well-adjusted son together. It was edgy fare for 1996 – the year that DOMA became law – flying in the face of what many, perhaps most Americans still believed about queer families. But my conservative-ish mom didn’t seem the least bit bothered or offended by any of it. In fact, she loved it.

It was with this specifically in mind a few years later that I finally summoned the courage to come out to my mom. And she has been nothing but awesome ever since.

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Mom and me on my gay wedding day.

So thank you, Robin Williams, for the many great performances you gave us, but especially, thank you for The Birdcage. 

Rest in peace.  
 

 

A Mother’s Day Message

When I was in high school, my mom had a new ceiling fan installed in my bedroom. It looked exactly like this:

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(Photo credit)

Several years later, I came out as gay. Coincidence? I’ll let you be the judge.

Anyway, I just wanted to give a Mother’s Day shout-out to my mom, who is in every way fabulous. Sure, she is known for her impeccable taste and interior-decorating prowess, her eye for style and ever-fashionable appearance, and her love of opera, Broadway musicals, and Barbra Streisand. But lest you suspect otherwise, none of my mom’s hey-girl fabulousness actually made me gay. No more than that gay pride-y ceiling fan did. All it did, really, was make me fabulous, too.

So thanks for everything you’ve given me, Mom. You’re the the best a guy like me could’ve asked for!

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Happy Mother’s Day!

(For more on my fabulous mom, check out this great blog post my sister Mary wrote last Mother’s Day)

(Also, please enjoy this amusingly apropos Mother’s Day video):

President Obama Endorses Marriage Equality

Please excuse the following outburst:

HOLY EFFING SHIT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES JUST CAME OUT IN FAVOR OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE!!! SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP THIS IS EXCITING NEWS!!!

Thank you.

And, it’s about time.

I know, the position expressed by our president today is not unnuanced or without its caveats. He says he’s okay with the issue being decided state-by-state, a position scorned by most marriage-equality advocates. It’s tantamount to saying, “I personally support marriage equality, but I’m okay with individual states banning same-sex marriage if that’s what they want to do.” And that’s exactly what North Carolina did just yesterday in a crushing setback for marriage equality. Not exactly an affirming backdrop against which to endorse the state-by-state strategy.

However, as I’ve been saying for the past three and a half years, the LGBT community has never had a better friend in the White House. And that distinction is far from marginal. President Clinton signed DOMA and DADT into law. President Bush advocated a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and anti-gay-marriage sentiment played a significant role in his re-election. But president Obama has used his executive authority to roll back federal restrictions on, and extend federal benefits to LGBT Americans. His Justice Department no longer defends DOMA in the courts, and DADT met its demise on Obama’s watch. And now the president publicly supports marriage equality.

I understand that there is little the president alone is empowered to do that would bring sweeping marriage equality across the U.S. I also realize that in this election year, there are politics at play, and that Obama is a politician. But this is a bold and still-risky position for him take. It may have taken him some time to “evolve” to this point, and his current position may still be less-than-perfect, but the president has proven himself a true ally to LGBT Americans.

However long overdue, this is a momentous pronouncement from our president, and it is worthy of celebration. I, for one, will be raising a glass (and perhaps a cupcake) for President Obama this evening.