Mention the Mormon church and gay rights in the same paragraph and most Utah residents become livid, frustrated, or violently proud and defensive.
Christian Burch, a BYU grad currently living in Wyoming, has taken it a step further, writing a children’s book about a boy with a gay manny (male nanny) which, according to a press release, includes in its plot a gay pride parade floating past the Salt Lake temple and a same-sex marriage between the manny and his charge’s uncle.
Hit The Road, Manny was written and published amid the controversy surrounding Proposition 8 – a law recently passed in California eliminating rights for same-sex unions. Burch says that he “didn’t write [Hit The Road, Manny] specifically in response to Proposition 8, but I wanted to show that we all fit into each other’s lives someway and that it is love that should be propagated and not hate.”
Burch graduated from Brigham Young University in 1995. The Mormon church, which owns the private university, encouraged it’s followers during last year’s election to support the passing of Proposition 8 by donating and voting.
Hit The Road, Manny is the sequel to Burch’s The Manny Files. In the book, which is recommended for children aged 8-12, according to Simon & Schuster, a fourth grade boy named Keats and his family (along with the manny) embark on a road trip across America.
This description of the novel from publishers Simon & Schuster hints that Hit The Road, Manny may prove a fun read even for college students: “From the big skies of farm country to the bright lights of Las Vegas, this, in typical manny fabulousness, is an all-American adventure filled with more Glamour-dos than Glamour-don’ts.”
In Burch’s first book, Keats learns from his manny how to “Be interesting.” In Hit The Road, Manny, Keats learns, according to a press release, “that accepting other people is key to becoming a compassionate human being and that all love, even between people of the same sex, deserves respect.”
Burch won a Josette Frank Award in 2007, and a Barbara Gittings Lambda Literary Honor for The Manny Files.