Monday, September 22, 2008

Gay Americans Donate Children's Books
to Wasilla Library,
On Eve of Banned Books Week


Email: bentalaska(at)gmail(dot)com

Michael Petrelis
Phone: 415-621-6267
Email: mpetrelis(at)aol(dot)com

Gay and lesbian Americans concerned with attempted censorship at public libraries recently donated copies of "Heather Has Two Mommies" and "Daddy's Roommate" to the Wasilla, Alaska, public library. This show of support for diversity and First Amendment rights is a pro-active direct response to reports that former mayor and now GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin may have tried to remove the children’s books from the shelves in the 1990s.

The two gay-themed books were given to the library to guarantee they were available for the Wasilla community to read and enjoy. The donation was made in anticipation of Banned Books Week, which begins on September 27.

Ultimately, the gay and lesbian Americans would like to place copies of "Daddy's Roommate" and another gay-themed children's book, "And Tango Makes Three," on the shelves of Alaska's one-hundred-and-one public libraries. ("Heather" is out of print, which is why "Tango" was chosen.)

San Francisco activist Michael Petrelis and his longtime partner Mike Merrigan gave the books to not only insure local kids would have access to them, but also to strengthen diversity in Alaska.

“When we first became aware of this story concerning Palin’s possible call for literary censorship, it dismayed us,” said Petrelis, who blogs at “If Palin’s attitude towards literary freedom, not to mention her respect for diversity, have not changed since the 1990s, then her qualifications for vice president are certainly to be called into question.”

Local gay support for the donation came from E. Ross of, a gay news and activities service web site based in Anchorage.

"Giving gay books to the Wasilla public library is a wonderful pro-active way to foster communication and encourage reading. Many libraries and schools have been pressured to ban ‘Heather Has Two Mommies’ and 'Daddy's Roommate' over the years, proving that citizens against diverse opinions and tolerance pose a danger to education and unity everywhere. These two titles are prime examples of books that should have a secure place on many public and school library shelves,” said Ross.

Ross will be contacting the Wasilla librarian after the donation, to confirm that the library will place the books on the shelves. She will write a follow-up report and share it on her site.

The director of the Wasilla library, KJ Martin-Albright, last week posted a note to the Publisher's Weekly blog regarding these issues:

At one point, "Heather Has Two Mommies" was challenged at the Wasilla Public Library and it was decided to keep it on the shelf. So, why is it no longer there? Well, Wasilla out grew the size of its library about twenty years ago . . . Along with the fact that library collections are dynamic and not static, anything on the bookshelves has to earn its real estate. If it isn't circulating, it doesn't stay. I know this is not the ideal, but it is our reality. The library no longer has "Heather", but we do our best to offer materials encompassing all different points of view and presenting every side to an argument.

For approximately $2,300, the gay activists, in collaboration with the Lambda Rising gay book store in Washington, DC, would purchase two gay children’s books and they would be shipped and donated to every one of the state’s public libraries.

When Sarah Palin returns to being the full-time governor of Alaska on November 5, we'd like for her to find her public library system has welcomed these gay-themed children’s book as a gesture of respect for equality and diversity, which is a true American value.

People interested in donating to this project can contribute directly through PayPal, by sending their monetary donation to Questions about this effort can be directed to the same email address.
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1 comment:

Michael said...

This message came my way a short while ago:

Hi Michael,

Great project! I am looking forward to hearing how it goes. I am a part of the nascent group called Alaskans Together for Equality. Both our group and Identity are planning to work on a “Hearts and Minds” Campaign to better educate Alaskans about gay and lesbian issues. Most Alaskans are simply clueless and not exposed to gay people in the way that average folks in California are.

I think these books will serve as a good resource for folks in isolated areas across Alaska.


Tim Stallard
Out in Alaska
P.O. Box 82096
Fairbanks, AK 99708