We spoke to Santa’s Husband – and its author
This tweet about a gay, black Santa became a children’s book in under 18 minutes.
In late 2016, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert writer Daniel Kibblesmith and his then-fiancée, author Jennifer Wright, joked that they had “decided our future child will only know about Black Santa.
“If they see a white one we’ll say ‘That’s his husband’”.
18 minutes later, illustrator A.P. Quach tweeted in reply: “boom. new children’s book.”
In what was a festive miracle of the digital age, it went from a joke to an idea, to a collaboration and concept art to a book deal – and then finally, to an actual children’s book.
All from one Twitter thread.
All in under a year.
And just in time for Christmas.
No longer is he the white, bearded, shopping mall-visiting man which most people know him as.
Instead, that’s Santa’s husband.
Speaking to PinkNews, Kibblesmith said that as he and his literary agent watched the tweet go viral, “we all realised that this was something we could actually make happen for real, and people would be excited about it.”
The plot of the children’s book seems like it was reverse-engineered from Mike Pence’s nightmares.
It pairs a sweet story of Santa and his husband’s life with playful watercolour pictures.
And kids, it seems, love it.
“Child feedback is our absolute favourite,” Quach said.
“It’s a simple, clear book. Kids are able to engage with the pictures and ideas pretty easily,” she continued.
“Recently, the AV Club featured our book in their gift guide and they had a little video of kids opening some of those gifts.
“One of the kids who got ‘Santa’s Husband’ stopped on the picture of the angry right-wing newscaster and yelled, ‘Shut it, Babytooth!’
“After that, I heard from some friends with children who agreed that the angry newscaster confused and agitated their kids on first sight,” she added.
“They couldn’t understand why the newscaster man was angry and it bothered them.
“Kids are darn perceptive.”
Kibblesmith said: “Christmas is first and foremost for kids, and it felt amazing to be part of the fabric of her [the child’s] traditions at such an early age.”
Inclusive portrayals of Christmas have often come under fire from anti-LGBT groups, with decorations that featured same-sex couples removed from an online craft store after complaints.
To the pair, engaging with positive queer literature and imagery is vital to changing traditions that today may seem restrictive.
“If kids are part of a bigger, more colourful world right at the beginning of their lives, they’ll have a broader definition of what a ‘normal’ person is, or what constitutes a family,” Kibblesmith said.
To Quach, “Santa’s Husband was a unique opportunity, because adult relationships aren’t generally at the centre of children’s lit.
“My favourite thing about the book is that Daniel wrote such a healthy model for a marriage.
“Santa and his husband have different strengths and talents, but they support each other … They share in the things that make each other happy.”
Kibblesmith added: “Detractors will say things like, ‘How do I explain a same-sex couple to my kids,’ but you also have to explain hetero couples, and doorknobs, and not walking into traffic.
“Kids learn everything from you; there’s no definition of normal stamped into them at birth.”
Detractors are fortunately rare, with a little backlash to take away from the warm reception the book has received.
And it’s safe to say that any homophobes who object to Santa’s Husband have ended up on his naughty list.
Kibblesmith said that criticisms of the book were simply based on ignorance.
“If you’re open to the premise of the book, I can’t imagine you finding it anything but delightful,” he said.
“If you’re put off by the premise of the book, then we might just have a fundamental disagreement about how big these characters can be and how many kinds of families they can reflect.”
Quach added: “It makes me think of that joke about the man who went to the doctor.
“‘Where does it hurt?’ ‘Here, here, here, here.’ The man pointed to his head, his arm, his stomach, his knee.
“The doctor nodded. ‘You have a broken finger.’”