As the world wraps up a groundbreaking year in the campaign for gay rights — the U.S. Supreme Court repealed a section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act last June, ruling its ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and Pope Francis recently stated that the Catholic Church has become too focused on the issue — Richard Tomack, 34, a Malverne resident and the self-published author of a new children’s book, “Duncan’s Journey,” has taken this debate to an entirely different place than the White House or the Vatican: the North Pole.
“I’ve been writing my whole life, but I never really wrote anything that I felt had a message I wanted to give,” Tomack said of the book, which follows one Christmas elf’s path to self-discovery that, he said, parallels his own experience as a gay man. “I’ve seen a lot in my lifetime, and now I’m seeing things moving further, so it’s important to get the word out there.”
The book focuses on Duncan, one of Santa’s helpers who feels different from the other male elves, Tomack said, mostly because they think their female coworkers are “hotter than Mrs. Claus’ Christmas cookies,” until he recognizes his feelings for another gay elf, Patrick. Fearing that their newfound love will ruin their friendship, Duncan runs away from Santa’s Village to hide his secret, but later learns to accept himself and embraces his new lifestyle with Patrick.
While writing “Duncan’s Journey” — which he began in the summer of 2012 and released last month through the self-publishing company Xlibris — Tomack said he drew inspiration from some of the hard realities he has faced since he came out in 2000, specifically his attempted suicide at age 20, when he was overcome with fear that his loved ones would not approve of his lifestyle.
“It was the biggest mistake of my life and I know that now, I regret it to this day,” Tomack said, “but I think that maybe it was a life lesson, because if I ever meet a kid who’s struggling, I can tell them my story.”
Giving the book a Christmas theme — it is Tomack’s favorite holiday — presented the opportunity to touch on religion as well, and he created a character called the Angel of Equality, who teaches Duncan to accept how he was created.