In a 1977 interview with The Lion and the Unicorn, Arnold Lobel said:

You know, if an adult has an unhappy love affair, he writes about it. He exorcises it out of himself, perhaps, by writing a novel about it. Well, if I have an unhappy love affair, I have to somehow use all that pain and suffering but turn it into a work for children.

It's straightforward to assume that Lobel's famous same-sex friends Frog and Toad drew, in a very general sense, from his experiences with emotional intimacy between men. But Adrianne Lobel and The New Yorker are happy to go much further and imply that Frog and Toad are gay-coded characters, even identifying the early stories as the beginning of her father's coming out.

Is there a strong case to be made for or against the claim that the famous amphibious friends are gay coded?

  • 2
    The article already states the most relevant piece of circumstantial evidence--that Lobel himself did come out as gay--and claims that he never publicly talked about any connection between his sexuality and the Frog and Toad stories. Are you looking for textual evidence from the stories themselves, or are you hoping that someone will find a statement from Lobel that the New Yorker article overlooked?
    – Torisuda
    Feb 19, 2017 at 6:30
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    @Torisuda Either of those, or something else I haven't thought of, would be a great foundation for an answer. I think dictating what kind of support an answer should use would turn this into an XY problem, but certainly "the author was gay, so his characters must be gay coded" is patently as insufficient as "the author never said anything, so his characters must not be gay coded" would be.
    – BESW
    Feb 19, 2017 at 6:46
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    I did a little Googling, and it seems a few people had suggested in the past that Frog and Toad represent a gay couple, but the idea had a big explosion after the New Yorker piece came out. I couldn't find any suggestion of unambiguous textual evidence, nor any statement by Lobel beyond the bit quoted in the New Yorker piece about how personal stuff ends up in his work. I'm interested in this question, so I hope someone more familiar with the books can find real evidence.
    – Torisuda
    Feb 25, 2017 at 17:20
  • OK, this is seriously cool. Thank you for this fascinating question!
    – mig81
    May 16, 2023 at 6:24


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