The above tweet was posted by a Catholic teacher from Toronto, Paolo De Buono. The book he refers to is "The Boy Who Cried Fabulous" by Lesléa Newman.
Paolo De Buono asks if it can be pointed out how the book he reads to schoolchildren in the classroom is contrary to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. De Buono has also stated he is "100% certain that what I've done is consistent with...my religious beliefs as a Catholic".
Let us now look at The Boy Who Cried Fabulous. I shall cite from the peer-reviewed "Journal of Homosexuality", from a pro-LGBT author, so that there can be absolutely no misunderstanding about "reading" pro-LGBT ideas into the book.
The following quotations are from the article entitled: For the Little Queers: Imagining Queerness in "New" Queer Children's Literature (2019) by Jennifer Miller.
Miller states:"...The Boy Who Cried Fabulous (2007), suggest a pre-homosexual gender expression by embracing gay affect, particularly excess and flamboyance" (p. 1645).
The book belongs to a new subgenre of pro-LGBT books: "I refer to this growing subgenre of children’s picture books as “new queer children’s literature” to differentiate it from the inclusion of lesbian and gay themes that precede it, which focused primarily on cisgender adult gays and lesbians (p. 1645).
According to Miller, this subgenre of children's literature is "queering the straight world", and regarding the "normative family unit" as "an object of critical queering", that leads to "transformative queer world-making" and results in childhood and parents who are "queered" (p. 1646).
I suggest that in contradistinction to the “old” queer children’s literature, which is committed to a narrow vision of normalcy, the new queer children’s literature introduces the possibility of queering the straight world. New queer children’s literature represents the coexistence of straights and queers in the most intimate of domestic spaces: kitchens, living rooms, playgrounds, and bookshelves. As a result, new queer children’s literature takes the most normative of institutions—the family—as an object of critical queering.
Additionally, new queer children’s literature rejects the adultist logics that structure the normative family unit (Flasher, 1978). It represents queer children as desiring subjects and knowledge makers, while representing the vulnerability and, at times, the inadequacy of the heterosexual family unit. In doing so, childhood itself is queered in the new queer children’s literature. I identify new queer children’s literature as a primary locus of transformative queer world-making. New queer children’s literature refuses hierarchical distinctions between straightness and queerness and portrays the possibility of coexistence through queer love; love for the queer child is love that queers the cisgender heterosexual adult. (p. 1646)
Miller notes that such literature has a very powerful effect on young children:
"...children’s picture books are a powerful socializing agent because they are often introduced in early infancy. The emergence of new queer children’s literature provides young people with the opportunity to imagine and perform gender identity beyond the restrictive stereotypes deemed acceptable in dominant culture. As a result, I argue that the new queer children’s literature is disruptive. It disrupts dominant cultural expectations about gender and refuses to accept restrictive social worlds (p.1654).
Let us now study Miller's analysis of the book to see the "queer" themes that permeate it:
|Examples of "queer children's literature" |
The Boy Who Cried Fabulous, written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Peter Ferguson, it about a young boy named Roger whose enthusiasm for life often distracts him from his tasks. In Ferguson’s nostalgic images, formally clad women and men stroll down the street in attire typical of the 1930s. The book opens with Roger waving goodbye to his mother as he heads to school. The text reads: “When Roger started out for school,/his mother set a simple rule. She said, “now Roger, you go straight—straight to class, and don’t be late. Roger tried hard to obey, he knew that he should not delay.” The repetition of the word straight, and its emphasis, at the text’s opening support a reading of Roger as a pre-homosexual character.
The queer child cannot go straight to class; he is pleasure-seeking and easily distracted. In this instance he is diverted by a storefront featuring a man’s red suit, accented by purple buttons with a matching tie and handkerchief. The fabulous ensemble expresses a camp aesthetic that exceeds conventions; it is flashy and flamboyant. Roger enters the store and proceeds to use the word fabulous to describe everything in it. His uncritical joy expresses the commitment to pleasure that Sontag identified as essential to camp sensibility. However, reactions to and consequences for campiness are serious. When he finally gets to school, his teacher angrily orders him to sit, and reminds him not to “gad about” on his way home from school. The term gad refers explicitly to seeking pleasure, which further reinforces the text’s commitment to campiness and serves to queer Roger by associating him with camp.
Repetition is an element of children’s picture books generally, and this one is no exception. On his way home, Roger is again distracted by a fabulous world that offers so much to delight in. The smell of pie, a woman’s beautiful purse, and even a book all draw him in. Roger eventually passes the street only to enter an equally fabulous park. Time passes quickly, and he realizes it is getting dark. He has gadded about, finding pleasure in the most unusual places—the usual ones.
At home, Roger is confronted by his sad mother and angry father. He is sent to his room, while his parents debate how best to keep their son on track. They decide that policing his vocabulary will help him channel his energy toward the productive and away from the pleasurable. To that end they tell him to stop using the word fabulous. While walking with his parents, Roger attempts to ignore the wonders of the world and walk through the city without appreciating or finding pleasure in it. However, this proves an impossible task. In one image Roger is depicted with eyes wide as he passes Marv’s Diner. His mother and father look at him suspiciously as his mother holds his hand. The sign gave him an idea. He replaces the forbidden word fabulous with the word marvelous.
While at lunch with his parents, every object he encounters is marvelous. After they leave the diner, the family stumbles onto a parade. Of course, it is marvelous, but beyond marvelous it is “luscious,” “scrumptious,” “stunning,” “thrilling,” “brilliant,” “magnificent,” and, finally, “fabulous.” After the forbidden word is spoken, Roger looks at his parents nervously. But, to his surprise, they smile and celebrate, queered by the child, able to see through pleasure-seeking eyes, the wonders of the world around them. The book ends with an image of Roger balancing on his parents’ shoulders as they tell him how much fun they had on their walk, referring to him as fabulous. The familial conflict is resolved with the queer child raised victoriously on the shoulders of his parents.
In describing the text, I have explained my interpretation of Roger as a pre-homosexual character. Also important for my overall analysis of new queer children’s literature is the transformation of the heterosexual family unit from a site of policing to one of celebration. The heterosexual family must change to affirm the queer child. Roger’s parents’ understanding of parental control and children’s agency cannot hold if they wish to support him. Even more, they must reorient themselves toward pleasure and away
from social utility. (pp.1665-1666)
The insidiousness of the book cannot be underestimated: the idea of a pre-homosexual child just waiting for his inner homosexuality to come out, the idea of rebellion against parental authority, the idea of converting parents into "gay" affirming and the now "queering" triumphalism over heterosexuality and the final transformation of the family into affirming and celebrating "queerness". The book is not only viciously anti-Catholic, but anti-family.
Reference: Jennifer Miller (2019) For the Little Queers: Imagining Queerness in “New” Queer Children’s Literature, Journal of Homosexuality, 66:12, 1645-1670,
Either De Buono is being disingenuous about what such books promote, or he is incredibly naive and unable to see the overt LGBT, gender, and "queer" themes that permeate "The Boy Who Cried Fabulous", and other books that belong to this subgenre of "queer children's literature".
It is time for this book, and other "queer children's literature" be banned in all Catholic classrooms.
Has Paolo De Buono (and other dissenting trustees, teachers and parents) been deceived by gender ideologues? Or, is their motivation one of conscious abandonment of the Catholic Faith? Time will tell. Pray they come to see the true beauty of human sexuality as revealed in Sacred Scriptures, as taught by Christ and His Church. It is not unreasonable that De Buono should issue an apology for reading "queer children's literature" in a Catholic classroom, and retract his public statements of approval of such books.
The TCDSB needs to immediately pass a resolution that "queer children's books" and other material that are contrary to Catholic Faith and Morals have no place in the classroom.
Dear friends, please contact His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins to ask that this book and others that promote "new queer children's literature" be banned from our classrooms. Please call and email your local Catholic trustee. Be respectful, but be firm in defending our Catholic Faith and our innocent children. Ask that your local trustee bring to the Board the issue of "queer" literature that is contrary to the mandate entrusted to Catholic schools.
The Archbishop of Toronto
His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins
Phone: 416-934-0606, ext. 609
Liaison for Catholic Education
416-934-3400 ext. 515
Please also contact the school, St. James Catholic School (Ward 4), and the Superintendent for the Area at which De Buono teaches. Ensure to cc your email to Cardinal Collins, and your local Trustee.
Principal: Joanne Saragosa
E mail: email@example.com
Superintendent of Education: John Wujek
Tel: 416-222-8282, ext 5371
firstname.lastname@example.orgJoseph Martino, Chair Ward 1: Etobicoke Phone: 416-512-3401
Toronto Catholic District School Board Trustees: