May 5, 2005

And Tango Makes Three: The Story of America's Most Beloved Gay Penguin Family

tango_makes_three.jpgIt's a story that kinda kicks the cinderblocks out from under the rusty ol' car that is "gays ain't natcherl." Tango Makes Three is the true story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins who've been in a committed, monogamous relationship for nearly six years, who try their darnedest to hatch a rock. When sympathetic zookeepers realize what the couple's trying to do, the get an abandoned egg from a female penguin, which Roy and Silo promptly adopt. And hatch. And raise as their own. That'd be Tango, I guess.

Anyway, while it turns out there are gay penguins everywhere, this particular gay penguin family lives in the Central Park Zoo. The book is written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated with pages and pages of cutey cute penguins by Henry Cole.

Buy And Tango Makes Three for around $10 at Amazon
[via towleroad]

Sept. 2005 update: And Tango's Daddy's New Girlfriend Makes Four


I'm actually in the process of writing a children's book about a bisexual Walrus and his lifepartner, a Kangaroo who is considering a pouch change operation. There's gonna be a really dramatic part where Wally the Walrus' parents insist he circumcise his adopted seal pup according to their Jewish tradition. And if that's not enough to permanently confuse your kids, I'm also considering throwing in an Oyster who's dealing with a slight alcohol problem and some serious divorce litigation. Let me know what you think! :)

I'd read it to my kids.

Beats "Dental Surgery" textbooks.

Actually, Dan, according to the authors, when they do readings, kids aren't confused about Tango having two daddies; they just want to know where the egg comes from.

My kids aren't confused about such things, in my opinion, confusion in children comes from parents whose explanations are inadequate or hesitant.

This is awesome. There are plenty of books about straight parents - be it humans or animals. I figure, expose my son to the world, let him decide what's important to him. He's nine months - we took him to Gay Pride Parade last weekend. He focused more on the trucks and cars than anything else...go figure...

Russel - When you say "expose your kid to the world" do you mean to say all elements in the world? How about a book where the zoo keeper gets it on with one of the penguins? To condemn bestiality would only limit your child's scope of free-will and I'm sure you would'nt want to do that! I'm with you! Long live moral relativism! Gotta go, I'm taking my 3 year old daughter over to the local brothel so she can decide exactly which professions are not for her!

Someday I am sure my son will learn that there are people out there who are into bestiality. But to compare gay couples to people who have sex with animals is a bit off the mark. I do believe that there are things that children should not be exposed to too early. Letting my son know that there are daddy couples and mommy couples (which I am sure he'll encounter anyway - unless I keep him confined to the house) is a far distance from exposing him to people's sexual habits. I am pretty sure the penguin book has no pictures of the penguiins humping...I will draw a line there, at least for a few years...

Hey Dan, Rick Santorum called. He wants his talking points back.

If the sanctimonious and inappropriate bestiality/relativism comments are meant to be acidically funny, that nuance is totally lost. They're about as funny as a pair of game shears headed for your nuts.

If they're heartfelt, then save me the trouble of deleting them by not posting them in the first place.

If you say 'gay people have sex with animals and rape children' over and over again, folks like Dan believe it. Sad, but whadya going to do? They simply can't make logical connections.

I think this is a great book. Kids certainly aren't confused about these things. It's misguided (hateful?) parents that cause the confusion.

I think this book is excellent! I'm thinking about buying it for my mom who still doesn't understand these things. We have exposed our 4 children to many different kinds of families. Even families where the children live with grandparents and are spoiled beyong belief. If you ask me not setting consistent boundaries for children is worse than saying it's ok to be a gay family.

My comments are certainly heartfelt, but if you find such ideas too upsetting feel free to delete them.
So much for accepting and understanding everyone regardless of whether they disagree with you, eh? I guess it's ok to be and think different these days as long as you're different exactly the way folks think you should be.

Dan, the zookeeper-penguin idea would never have occurred to me if it weren't for your comment. What made you think of such a thing?

Sounds like you've caught on to me vic.

So much for accepting and understanding everyone regardless of whether they disagree with you, eh?

Did everyone on the right get this talking point notice from Karl Rove? If you hate gay people, fine, you have a right to hate anyone you want in this country. But don't play the victim.

Why does everyone on the "left" refuse to consider the possibility that some people on the "right" actually came to their conclusions independently?

I want to thank you, Greg, for keeping this site inclusive of all fathers. I work for an organization that focuses on men helping to end homophobia, sexism, etc., AND suppports/promotes positive roles and images of men - especially as fathers. There are too many places where men gather that are overtly or covertly homophobic. I, for one, am glad that this is not one of those places. It will keep me coming back.

My husband, the king of macho, read this book to my youngest two sons last night, I covertly put it into his hands and then listened on the other side of the door.

He read the whole thing and then my boys (as usual) made no comments other than....i wanna glass o' which the answer was (as usual) nope.

When my husband came out of the room, I asked him about the book. He looked at me kinda funny and said...what about it? I informed him that its about two fathers, gay penguins raising a child, to which he shrugged and informed me to 'get over it'.

I love my husband, self-professed right-wing-liberal, law abiding, sometimes narrow-minded but often, and in the most subtle ways, so completely modern and progressive.

So to you Dan...I say, 'get over it'.

ok i get that penguins have a high level of gay males and sea gulls have a high level of lesbianism what if kids start asking about species' proclivity towards certain behaviour not trying to be funny but its something i thought of when i was young after observing dogs and noticed that cats didnt seem to be homosexual while many dogs were this taught me that in some circumstances things happen while under others it does not children may wonder if these things happen under duress like in zoos or when populations explode an argument for population control? or against zoos and preserving nature?

To Jake, the Google user and exclamation point-loving Christian from Toledo whose comments--the ones calling for the worldwide elimination of homosexuality before you have kids "so they don't have to deal with it"--I just deleted:

I hope you'll understand that my own faith and conscience don't allow me to let religion-tinged threats and hate speech go unchallenged. [cf. fatwas, Final Solutions, &c.]

And I hope that some day, you'll be able to give an honest explanation for why you were surfing the web for gay stuff at 2AM.

As a gay man and a father, it's great to see books like this on the market. Amazon has Tango speeding towards our house at this very moment.

...and no animals were hurt in the writing of this post.

This book turns the disgusting perversion of homosexuality into some sentimental, sugar-coated act of love. Ever wonder why two men are not able to have children? Have you ever considered that it doesn't work because it isn't natural. I don't hate gay people, but I do pity them. Anybody ever heard of Sodom and Gommorrah?

Turn to salt, pal, they're freakin' penguins. For your self-righteous edification, I'm a believer, too, and a doer, albeit an imperfect one. But I'm also someone who can grasp that the human interpretation of the Bible that says "homosexuality is not in nature and is hence, unnatural," has been basically and irrevocably exposed as what it is--a fallible, human interpretation--by the reality of homosexual behavior and bonding in dozens of animals--including penguins.

If you want to believe there's a penguin hell, and Tango's two daddies are going to it when they die, that's fine. But if I were you, Unashamed Believer, I'd be working on the beam of belligerent pride-fueled certainty and condescension that your post betrays rather than criticizing the mote of penguin adoption.

book is awesome. penguins are better. meanwhile, believer, animals are innocent - incapable of sin - leading me to believe it isn't the homosexuality that's the sin (Peter added the word in later, I believe.) It was prostitution and the forcing of daughters to provide sex to whoever came along. Now, keeping apart people who want to build a family and raise kids - sounds like a sin to me.

by the way btw science has helped hetero animals have offspring and there has been instances of science helping two female rabbits have offspring all said offspring were female only x's but the theory is that two males can have offspring they only need a donor egg to replace the genetic material and voila so surrogate mothers, egg donors, in vitro fertilization yes a different world but a better world where children are desired before they are conceived and loved when they are born tell me that is wrong [give it a few minutes, Buford, I'm sure someone will. -ed.]

sounds like two daddy families are pretty darn natural to me. Thanks, booford, for leading me to this site. I dearly love you, and we've never had sex. OMG, what are two penguins to do??

I've always liked penguins, just because they're penguins. Sure wish we could all view each other that way.

i did finally get the book was disappointed with it though it is more a factual narrative than a whimsical happy childrens story more a science book than something to excite children i had wanted more open eyed innocence and conjecture on love than the straight forward story alas it was not fantasy i wanted but a more bambi like story perhaps the cartoon movie with tango nuzzling her two daddies will make my heart swell with pride and love as i wanted it to i know theyre only animals but i so love hyperbole

As a gay father of a beautiful adopted child, I was delighted to read the story of Tango.

I think the book has implications not only for children with gay parents, but all children who are adopted. I know that my son was not born of my body, but born in my heart.

I will remind my fellow Christian brothers and sisters that the greatest commandment is that we love one another.

BTW: national Geographic has a great movie coming out this summer about penguins:

Our son is already eight, which makes him a bit old for this book - he's already on to TinTin and Asterix the Gaul.
Knowing his interest in natural sciences, he'd probably enjoy the 'factual narrative' part, but he'd be rather put out that Roy and Silo had a daughter. "Why does it always have to be about _girls_?" he occasionally laments about books and movies. I'm confident that puberty will take care of that problem. ;>

Of all the storm and stress of his dramatic life, one thing he's never complained about is having two fathers.

To Unashamed Believer,
I have to wonder why someone who is so ostensibly unashamed of their beliefs chooses the anonymity of a weblog in which to voice an opinion. My name is Betsy, by the way.

And, just in case it isnt quite clear to you, your statement about pitying gays is clearly false. That means you feel sympathetic sorrow or regret for another's unhappiness. Rather, from your words and "tone," it is obvious that you do either hate or fear gays or else that you are a very poor communicator. Because you have managed in your brief note to turn a disgusting perversion of your religion into a sentimental, sugar-coated bite of poisonous nastiness.

Oh, and precisely how DO you explain all the hate-filled, extremely right-wing couples who cannot have children? (There are as many unfertile conservatives as liberals, I assure you.) I may like to think its because it aint natural for them to procreate but am sensible enough to realize that intolerance has nothing to do with it. I only wish that was a cause of the syndrome because that sure would make the world a happier albeit less populated place.

By the way, if youre not simply parroting snippets from the rich and complex document that is the Bible, recall that God seemed to think Lots daughters were worthy of saving and look what sexual shenanigans they got up to in that cave. Yet they seemed to have noooo problem procreating. Kind of makes you think. Ah, the amusing antics of Gods chosen ones.

an unashamed believer who nonetheless thinks it's just dandy when God (or a zookeeper) unites a loving family

Is this rant too long to post? I had to get it out of my system but don't want to clog yours!

My thoughts on the book are as so...

I think these penguins, although "confused," are not in some sort of wrongdoing in any way. Just because they're gay doesn't mean that they can't try and raise a baby together, we should not judge them (along with people) on this subject. It's their choice to... um, do... whatever they feel.

I am just going to say this. It is not about hating someone because of their sexual preference, it is about being a parent and deciding what you want or do not want your children to read. If you really want to know what’s wrong with our nation it is this. Parents cannot be parents without someone else claiming that you hate a particular group. Yes it is every persons right to be with whom ever they want and I totally agree with that, but If I don’t want my child reading a book about two homosexual penguins, that is my choice and no one else’s.

[i guess i missed the part where children were being herded into penguin megacamps and forced to listen to books about penguins. Where did that happen again? And of course, you can always choose to hide from your children the documented existence of homosexual behavior in hundreds of animal species besides humans, but that doesn't make it any less of an empirical fact. Best of luck -ed.]

Deciding that your children shouldn't read about homosexuality or its existance in an empirical sense of reality is akin to hiding the fact that the holocaust happened or that other belief systems exist other than your own.

In the end it's up to every parent to decide what content of reality is wise and what content is foolish for their children to consume and when. There is no guidebook to parenting and I wish fathers of all types luck in raising their offspring the way they feel will bring their children the most happiness and success possible. The only parents I truly find distasteful are those who hide things from their children for their own sakes and not their childrens.

On that note, as long as someone is respectful and has adaquate and intelligent cause to be a discerning parent, I believe that there input is valuable..... in the way they raise their own children and not condemning others for doing what they feel is best for their own offspring.

This book was brought to my attention because a school is being forced by threat of a law suite to keep it on their open shelves for small children to venture into at any time. I am a father of a small child who is very inquisitive and will continually as why throughout a book or story. I don’t think at 3-1/2 years old she is ready for the answers to the questions she would ask, and I believe as a parent, I should bring up certain topics at the appropriate time. This weblog has touched on a lot of important issues concerning this topic, although often offering extreme cases to make their point, and there-by offending their antagonist, and I’m afraid, weakening their argument. I would like to summarize some of these points. (paraphrasing if I may)
1-No one is lining people up forcing them to read this book, implying that this would be wrong. I think it just as wrong to create a situation where my child can just happen on this book. This book was written to present a certain acceptance to a very controversial lifestyle. I don’t know that I will be able to control when I broach the subject with my child. When I do, this book may be a tool to explain what I’m talking about. It is a picture of what is happening in our society. My daughter is not ready to understand a brothel, neither is she ready to understand the sexual details of male cohabitation. I believe it is the sexual part that makes it wrong. Men should care for each other, but not sexually as does men and women. God created us Male and Female. Sexually, the connection of two souls is beautiful and it is life to life, (sperm to egg), not life to death, (sperm to feces). When man fell, who was given dominion over the earth and animals, so did the earth and animals. We no longer live in a perfect, ideal world. But we have been told what the ideal is.
I’m afraid I’m getting longwinded. I’ll post this and hope you find merit in it, editor in chief!

Wow! Gay penquins causing such a stir. Like it or not gay penguins, gulls, bees, whales and humans are everywhere. "Protecting" children from the truth is nothing more than absurd. I suppose some folks believe it is better to fill them full of lies and fairy tails complete with magical hetero-sexual dragons, green loveable ogres, talking dogs, dancing mice, and totally impossible "miracles" in the sand changing time from BC to AD. Whatever. I find the bible more offensive than a book about gay penquins just because I prefer truth, acceptance and freedom to lies, bigotry and control.

[hey dave, bibles don't lie and control people; people with bibles lie and control people. -ed.]

I agree with you Dan. When the homosexual agenda is guised in the form of a children's book, that is both deceitful and dishonest. While there may not be the herding of children into megacamps to hear this propoganda, an elementary age child could browse through the library shelves and pick up the book. I accept that there are gay people. I just don't accept them pushing their lifestyle onto society in the form of children's books, gay parades, etc. I'm labeled intolerant because I refuse to CELEBRATE and accept the gay agenda. Elton John wants to ban organized religion because it promotes hatred. If hatred is feeding and sheltering the world's homeless (to which Christianity is credited with 87%) then I better look up the definition of "hatred" again. Elton John just doesn't respect and accept what I believe is right or wrong for my children. Who is intolerant now?

[Elton John? Gay parades? where did that come from? Is it "pushing an agenda" when a kid plays with a Noah's ark? How about when he plays with a mermaid? The issue with these penguins is that their existence conflicts with a belief system that considers "homosexuality" to be "un"natural. How and when and if that contradiction is introduced to a kid definitely involves his parents' decisions. But the existence of a book on a shelf isn't "pushing" any more than the existence of gay penguins--or people, for that matter--constitutes an "agenda." -ed.]


Elton John is 100% correct. As for feeding and sheltering the homeless. HAH! There are more starving people in the world then ever in human history. Great Job Christians! If you want to save someone, start with yourself by refusing to condemn others.

Thanks Ed,

I agree and the only "agenda" I see being advocated is one of using "stories" of what "god" is "assumed" to have "said" to demonize multiple segments of the human population.

I am not surprised by the reaction "bible believers" to the SCIENTIFIC PROOF of homosexuality in NATURE. Blinded "believers" of biblical "truth" (yeah right) will never be able to see through the fear they have been conditioned to "believe".

[demonizing all "believers" is not really fair or helpful, and I don't doubt that the writers of Tango had an agenda--or at least an expectation that their book would be reassuring to some people and provocative to others. But the idea of any parent conceding control or responsibility for raising and educating his kid--to such an extent that the existence of a single book can be perceived as a threat--just rings untrue to me. Debating agendas is fine, if annoying sometimes, for adults, but it's not really a productive way to talk about parenting. -ed.]

Nice fair and balanced editorializing Ed. Sounds like this entire website is a front for the homosexual agenda. It shows how fair you really are when I attempt to post a response almost three hours apart and it says I have already posted too many responses in a short period. And homosexual Dave gets to post uninformed material every hour. Believe me I am not fearful and I certainly don't hate gay people. Just stop sticking your sexuality in my face and attempting to influence 4-year olds into your way of thinking. Scientific proof?? What proof? A gay gene? Why aren't identical twins gay? Don't respond cause I'm sick of this sight and won't be back.

[dude, you're the one who googled "does reading a gay penguin book make me gay?" and started pasting my blog with your ill-informed bigotry. As for the agenda around here, rest assured that for every time it slams you, the server slams me 100x. Should I interpret that as a fundamentalist conspiracy? -ed.]

I am not a daddy, and I am not gay (not that there's anything wrong with that :)). But, as the mother of two grown children I can tell you that the world is a big, scary place. From the moment of conception on a parent is filled with fear regarding their child. Where do I start? AIDS, famine, cancer, drunk drivers, global warming, childhood disease, vaccinations, pedophiles, bullies, racists, developmental disabilities, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, kidnapping, murder, drug abuse, alcoholism, and oh my dear God so many, many other things. Teachers who pick on your kid, bus drivers who slip through the criminal background check, pediatricians who got their MD from a foreign country that might not have the same stringent standards as ours, nannies who haven’t heard about shaken baby syndrome (or nanny-cams for that matter), violence on television and in video games, abusive boyfriends, cutting, anorexia, bulimia, and the choking game… the list is never-ending, and always expanding. I tried to teach my children about love, in all of its forms, in an age appropriate manner. I am proud to say that my children grew into awesome adults who do not judge others based on their race, religion, or sexual orientation. My kids take each person they meet at face value. For all of the Christians out there who believe it is THEIR job to judge others, I think you are missing the main point of Christianity. Love thy neigbor. Judge not, lest ye be judged. Do unto others... does any of this ring a bell? If God has a problem with homosexuality I'm sure he'll take it up with people himself, he doesn't need your help. He's God!!! I think he can handle judgement all by himself. Same thing goes for just about anything else you want to judge people on. Not your job, not your place, not your business. Get over yourself.

My daughter lives about an hour away from us now, and there isn’t a moment that somewhere in the back of my mind I’m not worrying about her. Is she eating right? Is she partying too much? Is her gay roommate going to be the target of a hate crime that she could get caught up in? Is her job safe? Is her SUV safe? Is she happy? My grown son is in the bedroom down the hall and I worry about him. Is he depressed because of a health problem he’s going through? Is the girl he has been chatting online with going to hurt him? Is he drinking too much?
So, my question here is, with all of the terrible, awful, no-good, very-bad things there are to worry about in the world, why on Earth would anyone spend a single second of their time worrying about a couple of penguins who want to raise a baby together? Come on people, gay penguins? Get a grip on yourself. If you have enough time on your hands to worry about gay penguins then you should really consider…getting a life!!!!
My suggestion to parents who don’t like this book or the potential message it could send to their children is, don’t read it to your kids! Personally, I am going to buy it in the hope that my children will someday find someone (gay, straight, confused, or in-between) to love and to raise children with. I know that I will have the same fears for my grandchildren that I had/have for my children. Probably more so, as the world doesn’t seem to be getting any safer as time goes by. I do know that love is an elusive thing. Real love is a rare and beautiful thing. Two men, two women, a man and a woman, or two freakin’ penguins!!! Love is love, and it’s a damn site better than the hatred and bigotry that seems to be running rampant throughout the world . One day, not so long from now, the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be a grandmother. And on that happy, happy day, when I get to cuddle next to my grandchild and read them a story, I’ll be happy that as an American I will be allowed to choose which story I read. I could choose the Bible. I could choose Dr. Seuss. Hell, I could choose Mein Kampf. But if I’m looking for a story that talks about love and commitment, And Tango Makes Three will be fine by me.

Just so you know, the penguins this book is based on broke up last year (April of 2005, I believe). Silo left Roy for a female named Scrappy and Roy remains single.

[it happened way back in May 2004, actually, but was reported in Sept. 2005. it's in the "update" link at the top of the page. Silo (f) also had taken up with a female penguin. Which, depending on your POV, either proves the gay penguin recruiting agenda, disproves it by pointing to a genetic factor, or makes you wonder why grown adults are projecting human notions of emotion, love, morality, and socialization onto freakin' penguins in the first place, -ed.]

The homosexual argument is "if animals do it, then it's natural, and if it's natural then it can't be wrong". This form reasoning and logic is sorely flawed. If the standard of morality is to be measured by what is "natural" in the animal kingdom, then there is nothing to say that eating our children or our own waste is wrong or inmoral. We are not animals. God has given us the gifts of wisdom, reason, a sense of right and wrong and most importantly, self-controle. A distinction must be made between what is right "naturaly" and "moraly". Homosexuality may come naturaly to some animals but for mankind to partake in such is sinful and inmoral behaviour reguarless of what society and culture may say to the contrary.

[thanks for moving the salient issue back to
the human realm, Reverend, but that's a revisionist point, if not outright false witness. It was an anti-homosexual argument that said, " "it's not natural because animals don't do it, and if it's not natural, then God didn't make them that way, and then it's wrong".

The real question here/for me, as a non-gay parent with a parenting website, is whether or how to teach my 2-yo daughter about the natural--or the real--world. Do we read books about how mommy lions hunt down cute zebras? How cuddly polar bears ambush cute seals when they come up for air? Not yet. But even though we have gay friends with kids, and she has friends and classmates with gay parents, I'd be more likely to read a penguin book because male penguins incubate the egg for months, not because I thought she "needed" a lesson on same-sex parents. -ed.]

I didn't read the book. I confess that up front.

Gay penguins? Gay seagulls? Gay snakes maybe? You know what the real question is?

Does a little penquin, in a zoo, even KNOW it's a boy?

Does he think, "Well, lemme see now, I have this chilly willy under all these feathers... now what do I do?"
I'm thinking not. I think he spends time with his friend, grooming, dressing for blacktie fish gobbling, swimming, whatever, for reasons having zippo to do with sex. Pure affection. That could very well be it!

And caring for the little one? Why shouldn't that be considered natural for two males who love each other?

I call my cat Willow.. "Daddy's little girl" but I've no idea if she thinks of herself as a female. For all I know, she only thinks.. "I am me, and not that other cat."


I never made the anti-homosexual argument that you speak of. And for the sake of clearity, are you saying that mine is the revisionist point? Are you also acusing me of me of false witness? I assure you that nothing I have said is anything but my heartfelt convictions. If you feel that the logic of my argument is flawed then that is what I would encourage you to address.

{And no one here has advocated eating their young, but yet you threw that out there as an association, if not an endgame, of acknowledging that same-sex pairings happen in nature. I don't doubt or mean to impugn your convictions, but you flipped an argument that originated with the religiously based anti-gay movement--i.e., "gay behavior doesn't occur in nature, ergo it's not natural, and not created by God"--into something it never was, namely a gay movement rationale or justification for gay human behavior. Which you proceeded to refute, blaming the gays for faulty logic (and just a bit of baby-eating) in the process. It's either misinformed, disingenuous, or dishonest, take your pick, but it's not correct. To your original point, though, it doesn't address the issue of human exceptionalism (a view I'd expect a non-evolutionist to hold) or the notions of will, intent, emotion, or morality, other things that we see as distinguishing humans from other (sic) species. -editor ]

I am consistantly awed that those who choose "alternative lifestyles" feel that EVERYONE has to accept and embrace it? Yet they justify their choice not to accept and embrace other peoples "non-alternative opinions".

While the story is cute. The definite homosexual undertones are deliberate. Therefore, the author and its proponents, being the liberals that they are, must allow for all opinions. Even those that do not agree with the concept of force feeding homosexuality to children.

What it boils down to is this....If you choose to allow,accept or condone this lifestyle fine. But don't make that decision for me or my children just as you wouldn't want me to force feed anti-homosexual material on your children.

[as a church-going Christian father in a traditional, i.e., m/f marriage, I'm consistently awed by people searching the Internet for discussions of gay penguins and then claiming the issue was somehow forced upon them. If no one but the children of gay parents reads this book, ever, I suspect it will have met the authors' expectations. -ed.]

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