Rainbow Families – What Are They?

Mine is a Rainbow Family, which means that my wife and I have children and grandchildren who grew up with same-sex (grand)parents. Since writing The Boxer Shorts Rebellion, I have expanded my definition of Rainbow Families to include straight parents who love and support their gay children as they grow up.

When my granddaughter was born, and my grandsons were young, I was happy to have And Tango Makes Three and King and King. Soon there were a whole slew of picture books but as the kids grew older and began reading for pleasure the literature reflecting their family grew fewer.

One day I was watching Rosie O’Donnell on television talking about her then ten-year-old son and the questions he was asking about living in a same-sex parented family. Why are you gay? Does that mean I’m gay? Do you have to be gay?

My personal muse lit a fire and I began to write.

For the better part of the last ten years my writing has involved certain types of families – what I call Rainbow Families. First I wrote Riding the Rainbow (for ages 8-12) quickly followed by A Man’s Man (for ages 12-16). I compare the two to each other in much the same way Mark Twain did his Tom Sawyer to his Huckleberry Finn. They both tell basically the same story, that of fitting in to a family that isn’t like other people’s families. Riding the Rainbow is more innocent and sweet, while A Man’s Man deals with more adult issues.

Of course, those two were followed up with The Boxer Shorts Rebellion, a read for much more mature teens. Loosely based on the suicide contagion zone that tragically occurred in Minnesota a few years back, it centers around a family struggling to come to grips with a son who may, or may not, be gay and the bullying that surrounds him. The language is crude and the story blunt, without apology as it treats the subject as brutally in fiction as it is in real life.

So when people ask me what a Rainbow Family is, I answer that it’s any family with one or more gay members. It is that simple.

So, are you in a Rainbow Family?

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