Heather Has Two Mommies

From ArticleWorld

Heather Has Two Mommies (1989) by Lesléa Newman and Diana Souza is an illustrated children's book about a preschooler named Heather who realizes that all families are different. As the title suggests, Heather has two mothers who happen to be lesbian. The book is considered a minor classic because in addition to being much loved by children, it portrays Heather's family as normal rather than behavior, providing a positive image for children of parents with alternative sexual preferences and lifestyles. Coming on the heels of Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite, Heather Has Two Mommies became the site of a full-fledged culture war in the United States in the 1990s, with accusations of the homosexual recruitment being met by strident demands for tolerance and acceptance.


Heather was written, Newman says, on the request of a lesbian parent, and the book expands the notion of unique families by having Heather learn about her friends' families – of different ethnicities, some with one parent, others with many siblings, etc. Heather's teacher tells the class that it is not who is in the family that is important, but that everyone is loved. The book becomes an icon for supporters of non-traditional family structures.


The backlash against Heather in the was from social conservatives and some far-right religious enthusiasts who believed that homosexuality is deviant and should neither be condoned nor portrayed in any way, especially not in front of impressionable young children. Some libraries refused to stock it, while others faced complaints for doing so. Most objected to the homosexuality that was accepted as normal, while others thought mentions of artifical insemination were inappropriate for children. The charges of homosexual recruitment and actively encouraging homosexuality were also made against the book, and Newman was listed among the 'most dangerous writers living today. Senator Jesse Helms read out portions in the US Senate, and Heather has been on the banned books list for over ten years.

Heather kept selling, though, and spun off a strong market in books for children of lesbian and gay parents. Ironically, the manuscript was rejected by every publisher Newman sent it to, and was eventually self-published by the author and illustrator after raising money by sending out flyers soliciting $10 in exchange for a copy of the book when it came out.