Title: Two Grooms on a Cake
Author: Rob Sanders
Illustrator: Robbie Cathru
Publisher: Little Bee Books, 2021
Format/Genre: narrative nonfiction
Themes: Pride Month, marriage laws, weddings, wedding cakes, marriage equality, lgbtqia+, Michael McConell and Jack Baker, queer history
Two grooms on top of a cake. That’s us. Some thought it could never happen. And it almost didn’t.
But one day, we stood in frosting
on top of a three-tiered wedding cake.
This is our story.
This is a picture book biography about Jack Baker and Michael McConnell and their inspiring story becoming the first married gay couple in the US fifty years ago.
Long before marriage equality was the law of the land, two grooms stood on a wedding cake with their feet firmly planted in fluffy white frosting. That cake belonged to Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, who were wed on September 3, 1971, becoming the first same-sex couple in America to be legally married. Their struggle to obtain a marriage license in Minnesota and their subsequent appeals to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States is an under-told story of LGBT history.
Why I like this book:
This beautiful book celebrates the love story of two pioneers of marriage equality for all, through the process of baking of their wedding cake! I am often surprised (maybe I shouldn’t be) by significant true stories about which I know nothing. Once again a picture book biography is filling in my gaps.
Sanders masterfully interweaves the story of this groundbreaking gay marriage with the creation of their wedding cake. The story is actually told by the wedding cake toppers, which adds a fun twist, and allows the toppers to share their surprise and empathy at how hard it was for this couple to marry. The author already demonstrated clever alternative POVs when he told the story of Stonewall through the voice of the inn. It’s a literary technique that isn’t easy to pull off, but he succeeds.
Queer history is important and picture book age children are at a great age to start to share some of the challenges and joys the lgbtqia+ community has faced. And who doesn’t like a perfect cake baked with love?
The art style is stellar with a perfect vintage vibe to both color choice and the drawings! And I love that we have great photos at the end of Michael and Jack through the years. What an uplifting story.
- The book includes a bibliography, a two-page timeline of marriage equality from 1970-2015, and several online resources.
- The Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2015. Available online at:
- Wedding Footage
First Gay Wedding in Minnesota—Jack Baker & Mike McConnell, 1971
- Minnesota Couple Behind America’s 1st Gay Marriage Shares Their Story
- Interview: Minn. Couple Behind America’s 1st Gay Marriage
- A Celebration of the Michael McConnell Files
- Pastor Reflects Back on Minn. Gay Marriage
Telling Queer History with Michael McConnell
Michael McConnell Files/Archives
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.