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Op-ed: A Letter to Heather and Her Two Mommies From Their Creator

Op-ed: A Letter to Heather and Her Two Mommies From Their Creator


Back in 1989 an LGBT-themed children's book titled Heather Has Two Mommies incited condemnation from conservatives -- and adoration from LGBT families. With her book being reissued, author Leslea Newman has some words for her most famous character.

Dear Heather,

Wow, you're all grown up now -- more than 25 years old! When you first sprung out of my pen in 1988 as a fully formed toddler, I never imagined the life that you, Mama Jane, and Mama Kate would lead. I envisioned the three of you, along with your dog Midnight and your cat Gingersnap playing in the park on sunny days, baking cookies at home on rainy days, and living happily ever after in your LGBT community, surrounded by families just like your own. I hoped and dreamed that lesbian moms all over the world would embrace you, and I'm so happy they did. I never thought others would so passionately despise you and I'm so sorry that happened. It must have been very frightening to hear powerful politicians like Jesse Helms and Newt Gingrich denounce your right to exist. It must have been truly terrifying to see New York City's Chancellor of Education Joseph Fernandez lose his position because he supported including you in the diversity resource guide "Children of the Rainbow." It must have been very scary to hear Sen. Bob Smith reading your story into the Congressional Record with such an ugly sneer.

Like anyone who brings a child into the world, all I ever wanted was to keep you happy and safe. I so wish I could have protected you from all the hateful things people said about you. I'm sure you know this, but just in case, let me say it again: you are not the work of the devil. You are not the end of Western civilization as we know it. You are not evil or perverted or going to hell. You are a wonderful child who comes from a strong, loving family. You have a right to be here. There is nothing wrong with you.

Maybe over the years you developed a thick skin. Maybe you even laughed when you heard about Conan O'Brien's made-up Girl Scout cookies, Heather Has Two Mallomars, in response to the notion that the Girl Scouts were becoming too radical and feminist. Maybe you were amused by the full-page New Yorker cartoon that Roz Chast drew featuring book titles such as All of Laura's Mommies Are Crummy Poets and Sarah Has Two Mommies Who Are Barry Manilow Fans. Maybe you chuckled with amusement to hear yourself being mentioned on TV shows like Gilmore Girls, The Simpsons, and Will & Grace. Or maybe you grew sick and tired of being in the spotlight and just wanted to be left alone.

Heather_has_two_mommies_new_versionx400_0I know you were always glad to hear from kids and their parents who appreciated you. I know it made you smile to learn about the little boy who found three copies of your book under his family's Christmas tree and the girl who received your book for her birthday and slept with it under her pillow every night. I know you were thrilled to see a 2-year-old wearing a homemade T-shirt that read, "Heather Has Two Mommies--And I Do, Too!" at last year's Gay Pride Parade. And I know that when a child wrote to you to say, "I only have one mom. I think having two moms is a great idea," you totally agreed!

Now that you're more than a quarter of a century old, I am astonished at all you have accomplished and all you have become. I am excited to see you standing tall -- in your new signature purple cowgirl boots -- and forging ahead with a confident smile as you continue to claim your space and take your rightful place in the world. Heather, we've been through a lot together, and I'm so proud of you, I could bust. And I know Mama Jane and Mama Kate feel the same way too.

LESLEA NEWMAN is the author of Heather Has Two Mommies and more than 20 other books. She lives in Holyoke, Mass., with her wife.

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