“Yes, Virginia, there is a JT LeRoy”
On September 21, 1897, the New York newspaper The Sun wrote its world-famous editorial, entitled “Is There a Santa Claus?” Editor Francis P. Church was responding to a letter from Virginia O’Hanlon, which read: “Dear Editor: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?” In his editorial reply, Church offered a spirited defense of Santa Claus, assuring her in a perennially quoted (and paraphrased) line, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” and concluding, “Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”
In 2006, when Laura Albert was revealed as the author of the JT LeRoy books, the good people at Lemon magazine brilliantly rose to the occasion. When other journalists were ridiculing and sneering at not just the writer they had once staunchly defended and celebrated, but the more than ten times ten thousand readers internationally, who were moved by and changed by the JT LeRoy books, Robert Bundy at Lemon echoed Francis P. Church with this thoughtful and eloquent article (below), reminding everyone that JT LeRoy “exists because a moving expression of longing, suffering, love, and endurance is not disqualified simply because it issues from a construct. He exists because if words and stories resonate and move the reader, then it matters not that the hand writing them signed another’s name.”
Sixteen years later, Robert Bundy’s words are more touching and meaningful than ever. How grateful we are to him and to Lemon for having told it like it is, and in such a memorable and powerful way.
To quote another immortal Yuletide child, “God bless us, every one!”