I have written about my best friend before, in Frankie and Me. It is a long and very loving story between the two of us and what astounds me most is how it evolves over time. Now, both of us closer to 50 than 40, our talk has changed. A couple of years ago, Frankie and his husband, BJ, became fathers. To see my dearest friend so incredibly happy and fulfilled was a moment I will cherish forever. I couldn’t look at their son, Milo, without also thinking about every struggle, every doubt and every bit of pain Frankie had leading up to this moment. To look into that boy’s eyes and hold the son of my friend who never thought it possible to become a father, let alone be married, was and continues to be something for which I am incredibly grateful.
Frankie, BJ and Milo have been seen worldwide after a birth photo of Milo was posted on the Internet just following his birth at the start of World Pride in Toronto.
It was an incredible moment and the image continues to resonate with thousands around the world. The image turned into the story which in turn became a beacon of hope for many who dream of becoming parents and families.
A Story about Love
We talked about the importance of their story and decided to write a children’s book about it. After brainstorming what the story should include we wrote the first transcript. Once I had that in hand, I began drawing illustrations for the story. I used photos of their life together for inspiration and the story really began taking shape. A year after discussing the possibility of the venture, we had our story, Milo’s Adventures: A Story about Love, published.
Using the photo that Frankie shared on Facebook to announce the pregnancy as the cover, we invite readers into a story of love and the creation of a family told from Milo’s perspective.
This story resonates with anyone who is trying to create a family. The hashtag Frankie and BJ developed, #familyisaboutlove, speaks to the importance of an inclusive definition of family.
As much as a normative image of family is forced upon us, we all have different stories about family. This story speaks to the need to create a space where family is what we make it and not what we are told it should be. As we enter another #pride weekend in Toronto, there will be many who will celebrate with families they were born into and have embraced them and many will also be with families they created through deep and lasting friendships.
A Story to Support Parents
As a parent of two teenage children, I have always believed in the importance of open communication around anything they need to talk about. My children have grown up with Frankie and BJ as important people in their lives while also always knowing that they were gay men and that they love each other very much.
I remember one day when my son, Max, came home from school in grade two. Always an affectionate child, he had been hugging some of his friends at school and some of the boys called him “gay”. When Max came home he told me about the story and he wasn’t upset about it as much as he was confused. He told me that he was called gay but wasn’t sure why they said it in such an angry way. His question was, “Mommy, is being gay a bad thing?” He had no idea that gay could be used as an insult until this moment. We talked about it and he then began listing all the reasons he loved Frankie and BJ.
As a parent who has always prided myself on my openness and willingness to have any conversation with my children, I know how important it is for parents to have some support with what can be difficult conversations. My parents raised me this way. I recall at a young age that my father took us to NYC and told us about the Stonewall Riots as we drove up Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. I also recognize that my years of teaching have also allowed me to have a comfort in talking to children whereas some parents may not have this comfort. The book is written in such a way to be open and gentle enough to invite questions if the child is ready to wonder about them and supports parents in having a different conversation with their child supported by soft illustrations and simple language.
A Story to Support Teachers
In the last couple of years, much attention in Ontario has been directed at the newly released Health and Physical Education Curriculum. Many concerns expressed by parents were related to content they believed to be in the curriculum but in most cases, actually was not. A story like Milo’s Adventures: A Story about Love, supports and guides the dialogue in classrooms through a common text.
Recently, Frankie and BJ were invited to read the story at a Toronto school to a grade three class by the school’s Physical Education teacher. She was excited by the fact that our story matched so beautifully with the curriculum expectations she was teaching her students. Frankie and BJ were excited by the level of understanding and questioning from the students in class. So much of the worry that parents have about Human Development and Sexual Health in schools is that the teacher will go rogue and not, in most cases, about the expectations themselves.
In my own school board, the book has been added to the Professional Library and included on our board’s “Family Diversity Resources” page for teachers and teacher librarians to access.
We invite other school boards to do the same! Share this book with your teacher librarians, physical education teachers, parents and communities.
This story is here to open dialogue, invite discourse, and redefine what makes a family.
For more information about the book, Frankie, BJ and Milo visit their website where you can also purchase the book.