Contrary to popular belief, not everyone’s Santa Claus is white and madly in love with Mrs. Claus. In Daniel’s Kibblesmith new book, "Santa's Husband," Saint Nicholas is black and proudly married to a man.
The idea was ignited last December, when the Mall of America in Minnesota encouraged diversity by hosting a black Santa Claus to hear children’s wishes for Christmas. The use of a black Santa in the shopping center angered a number of individuals, and many on both sides of the issue used social media to voice their opinions on the controversy. Kibblesmith, a staff writer for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” took to Twitter.
His tweet went viral, receiving more than 8,400 likes and 3,300 retweets. The overwhelming response to the social media post inspired him to write a story about a black Santa Claus and his white husband.
"The uproar on cable news was so crazy to me and my fiancé, so we joked since Santa Claus is defined by the traditions of your household, when we have kids we’re just going to tell them that Santa is black," Kibblesmith told NBC Out. "The tweet got a lot of pickups, and screenshots of the post were showing up on parenting blogs, and a friend of mine who does comic and illustrations said this would be a good idea for a children’s book," he added.
The initial idea was to create a story strictly for children. However, Kibblesmith's agent argued that the book should be for all ages.
“It will be funny, and it will have numerous inside jokes for adults, but it will still be appropriate for kids to read. If you really wanted this to be Santa for your kids, this book is also OK to read," Kibblesmith said, adding that "Santa’s Husband" will be found in the humor and gift sections of bookstores.
Aligning with traditional Christmas stories, the book features images of elves, reindeers and mistletoes. But illustrator A.P. Quach added a distinctly LGBTQ-inclusive touch to the book by creating images of Santa being loving with his husband.
“The book features a lot of adorable photos of an elderly Santa Claus and his husband hanging out around the house together and getting ready for Christmas time -- lots of kisses under mistletoes and Santa sharing milk and cookies with his husband,” Kibblesmith said of Quach's illustrations.
Parenting blogs such as Mommyish have celebrated the idea of a black gay Santa Claus. And while many have praised Kibblesmith for his decision to highlight a unique version of a cultural icon, the writer has encountered harsh criticism for his decision to challenge the status quo.
“People develop really strong emotional attachments to fictional characters, especially if the character was exposed to them during childhood or if they have political or religious views connected to how those characters are represented, but I don’t think anyone can argue that we are replacing white Santa Claus," Kibblesmith said.
"There is still going to be a lot of representation for the straight, white, Coca Cola-red, post-World War II, American Santa Claus. He’s not going anywhere, but he’s also not the original Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas was a Greek guy from Turkey who didn’t have a wife and didn’t have elves. If you look up Santa Claus in other countries, it’s been different over the centuries and its different now," he added.
Kibblesmith hopes his work will start “pushing the needle towards a place where a gay Santa is not shocking anymore."
“We are starting a conversation," he said. "If you are living in a house with two moms or two dads, and you want a Santa Claus that better reflects your experience, this book is available for you.”
Kibblesmith also hopes "Santa's Husband" goes beyond just this one fictional character and helps lead the way for more diverse representation in fiction.
"Santa’s Husband" will be released on October 10 and is is currently available for preorder on Amazon.