A Texas politician apparently looking to rally hate when she blasted an LGBTQ-friendly book about Santa Claus on Facebook was instead blindsided love — for the book, from open-minded commenters.
The Nov. 21 post, from Ellen Troxclair, a former Austin City Council member and self-dubbed "proven conservative" who is now running for a Republican seat in the Texas House, included a photo of the 2017 book Santa’s Husband by Daniel Kibblesmith, which was displayed at her local bookstore. Alongside it, she wrote, “You can no longer walk though the Christmas children’s section of a bookstore with your kids without being bombarded with inappropriate content, featured by staff who want to ‘make people’ read it."
She continued, “What is the leftist obsession with sexualizing children’s content? And Why does there have to be a leftist agenda to EVERYTHING everywhere all the time?”
But things didn't exactly turn out the way Troxclair may have hoped.
Instead, she was met with an army of Santa's Husband allies.
“If this was a book about Mrs. Claus titled ‘Santa's Wife,’ would you still consider it ‘sexualized?’” asked one commenter.
“What’s with the right wingers obsession with sexualizing LGBTQ+ relationships? Grow up,” another added. “If you see any kind of relationship and immediately see the potential sexual aspect of it rather than the romantic/partnership aspect, then you’re emotionally and morally stunted.”
Further comments blasted:
“If this upsets you, you're the problem. This is America, freedom of speech lady."
“Leftism is when private publishing companies print books for display in private bookstores,” another said. “I guess if you don’t like what’s on display in this bookstore then you’re free to go somewhere else?”
“Who's sexualizing what? You'll walk by a ‘Santa and his wife’ book no issues, but change it to husband, and now it's inappropriate sexualization? Did you picture Santa and Mrs. Claus' relationship in the bedroom?”
The book in question — categorized by publisher HarperCollins as "humor," "comics & graphic novels" and "LGBTQ+" — is a fresh twist on the Santa story, chronicling the tale of a Black Santa, his white husband and their life together in the North Pole. Featuring illustrations by Ap Quach, the book also touches on the joys and tribulations that come with being a gay couple.
According to the author, who responded to the controversy on Twitter on Tuesday, this kind of response isn't exactly unusual. In fact, he says, the backlash has arisen every year since the book came out. But in recent years, the negativity has been outshined by the growing acceptance of LGBTQ love worldwide.
"She’s really late to this party. I thought all the outrage would have died out by now," Kibblesmith tells Yahoo Life, adding that Troxclair is now "single-handedly responsible for reviving its Amazon numbers."
"The proportion of positive to negative responses skews more toward positive every year," he explains. "But I think Troxclair came off so disingenuous in her outrage that this time around the floodgates of positivity burst open and people really seemed compelled to tell her she’s an outdated weirdo."
— Daniel Kibblesmith (@kibblesmith) November 23, 2021
The book inciting such a visceral response actually matches the story behind it, Kibblesmith says, explaining that the inspiration came out of what he calls "the brouhaha" surrounding the hiring of a Black Santa at the Mall of America in 2016, and in "the endless wake of the Megyn Kelly comments," during which she declared that both Jesus and Santa were white.
"I tweeted [at the time] that if we ever had a child, we’d ONLY tell them about Black Santa and if they saw a white Santa we’d explain that it was Santa’s husband," he remembers. Then, "an illustrator of mine responded with artwork of two Santas posed lovingly cheek-to-cheek, and the overwhelmingly positive comments convinced us that people would like an entire book about this, if only to have another, at the time, very rare Christmas book that acknowledges the existence of families and couples who aren’t straight and white."
At the end of the day, however, Kibblesmith says the purpose of the book hasn't necessarily been to provoke ideologies, but to simply give families an opportunity to see themselves.
"My hope for the book, as [it is] every Christmas, is that people who see the sweetness in it, buy it and enjoy it," he says. "If only for the stunning watercolor illustrations by Ashley Quach."