Why we’re covering this: Jump to the pictures if you really wanna know.
By now you may have heard about Colin Stokes’ charming New Yorker piece about Arnold Lobel, the gay children’s author who wrote the Frog and Toad series. You should should read it — it’s short and praises Lobel’s work for its nuanced depiction of a deep and abiding friendship — but if you can’t be bothered, here’s its major takeaway:
Adrianne [the daughter of Frog and Toad children’s author Arnold Lobel] suspects that there’s another dimension to the series’s sustained popularity. Frog and Toad are “of the same sex, and they love each other,” she told me. “It was quite ahead of its time in that respect.” In 1974, four years after the first book in the series was published, Lobel came out to his family as gay. “I think ‘Frog and Toad’ really was the beginning of him coming out,” Adrianne told me…
Lobel died in 1987, an early victim of the AIDS crisis. “He was only fifty-four,” Adrianne told me. “Think of all the stories we missed.”
Because we loved the Frog and Toad series as kids, we thought we’d re-examine some of its illustrations to see if the pair was gayer than we remember. The illustrations remind us of the late 19th and early 20th century photos of men being physically affectionate: their intimacy is a form of closeness, but not necessarily sexual attraction.
In our minds, the two might’ve been gay in the platonic homosexual sense, they just weren’t gay for each other (no late-night lily-paddin’ and leap-froggin’, dig?). Nevertheless, the two had a pretty excellent friendship, and these 10 following drawing illustrate why — we’ve added captions to help explain:
They climb trees and quietly read together without being all like, “Ooooh, gurl, listen to this spicy ho!” Because sometimes you can appreciate a hot read without getting all farty and drool-queen about it.
They can get shirtless together (without getting all thirsty) and then literally leap for joy without judging each other for gaining weight, having zits or queening out.
They plan special platonic dates where only they go, and then cherish those memories rather than whore-posting the fuck out of them on Instasham and Fakebook.
They bake fancy French cookies like Julia Childs and then binge eat the fugg out of them. Then they lay about the rest of the day like pregnant manatees and watch “Dance Moms” (even if the house is dirty) because friends that bake hard, play hard.
They stay up late (even on school nights) and admit deep shit to each other like women in International Flavors coffee commercials. They also spike the tea with mushrooms or Mad Dog sometimes because they’re so ’bout dat life.
They go outside and teach each other cool-ass nature facts they learned from Boy Scouts (before they got kicked out for being gay). They also put their arms around each other because they’re unafraid of physical affection — cat-callin’ twinks and player-haters be damned!
They go fishing and do crap the other one doesn’t even like, because sometimes your friend wants to do something boring and you go anyway and just read fashion magazines or smutty novels, just to show that you support them and their boring-ass hobby.
When one of them rips a pant-splattering fart, they trade knowing glances like, “Oooooh, you filthy buttslut,” without having to say another word because they both ARE filthy buttsluts, and they love each other for it.
They straight-up raid their grandma’s drawers and turn out the fiercest runway looks for one another, because if you can’t strut in front of your sister-dick, who the hell are you living for anyway? Yassss, werrrrrque — give her her 10s! She snatched ALL the wigs, hunny, even if she DID look a little busted.
They get all Elton John/Liberace on each others’ asses, bust out serious dance moves at the club and karaoke like they’re on fire because real friends don’t hold back. FROGGYSTYLE ‘N’ TOADLICK 4 EVA!!!