Monday, September 3, 2012
Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin
Susan Bösche, Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin (Gay Men's Press).
This is a Danish book, but most people know it for the role it inadvertently came to play in British history during the 1980s. It was one of the publications dragged through the mud by the Thatcher administration in its passing of Section 28 of the Local Government Act of 1987-1988, which outlawed "the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship."
It is hard to fathom the ignorance of anyone who could possibly find this book threatening. The book tells the story of a weekend in the life of Jenny, a little girl who lives with her father, Martin, and his partner, Eric. The weekend begins with a surprise party for Eric's birthday, which they celebrate over cake and tea with Jenny's mother, Karen. It's a charming book full of great photographs (the extended family should really consider starting a band), and I imagine it's quite a useful book for parents of all stripes, and for teachers as well. There is a dark moment in the story when the family runs into a grumpy neighbor, who mutters some homophobic oaths Jenny struggles to make sense of. Eric breaks things down in a simple cartoon doodle that speaks volumes.
For more on this book and Section 28 see this speech by actor Ian McKellan.