Authors Adam Reynolds and Chaz Harris want to bring LGBT representation to a new generation of kids with their new fairy tale children's book Promised Land.
Promised Land follows the story of Jack, a farm boy with a penchant for exploring the enchanted forest surrounding his home, and Leo, a young prince forbidden to leave his palace. When an evil force hypnotizes the queen, Jack and Leo meet and discover a blossoming romance between them. But when Jack's home is threatened, the duo must join forces for the fight of their lives.
I found my prince and my happily ever after, glad this children's book is showing boys that they can too. pic.twitter.com/2lybeb2cEz
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) March 27, 2017
In an interview with The Spinoff, co-author Chaz Harris opens up about his own childhood and the importance of representation. "I knew I was different from a young age, but I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of different as I grew up with no reference points. In my first few years of High School, kids started calling me gay before I knew what that meant," Harris wrote. "I thought: if being gay was an insult, it must be a terrible thing to be and I don’t want to be that!"
"For those of us who are LGBTQ, we face shame every day, but all of us experience it from childhood as our parents tell us what is/isn’t acceptable. A boy picks up a Barbie and gets scolded for playing with it: shame. A girl wants to play soccer but is told to take ballet or dance classes instead: shame.
These tiny moments in our formative years as young people all add up. Just as gender roles and the self-image of men and women are influenced by these experiences, so too are that of LGBTQ young people."
"In my younger years, I watched dozens of animated films based on fairytales. I was Ariel: just wanting to have legs and live on land like everyone else instead of having fins and being stuck in the sea. I was Belle: the ‘funny boy’ obsessed with movies and books instead of football. I was Aladdin: getting called ‘street rat’ thinking if only they’d look closer, they’d find out there’s so much more to me.
I related to these characters, but I realize now I was projecting my own identity onto them and the struggle to find their place in the world. A question soon grew in my mind: if I’m gay and that’s meant to be okay, then why are none of these characters like me?"
"If we see more representation of queer people as heroes, they’ll grow up with a more positive self-image. If we get to see women in stories with the strength and courage to save themselves, well, we’ll just be catching up with what many women do already!
If we can see it, we can be it."
This is an exciting time for LGBT representation in children's media! With LGBT kids shows on the rise and animated shorts like In A Heartbeat going viral, we're taking long strides to make sure LGBT kids know that they are normal, loved, and can have love stories of their own.
What's next for the Promised Land co-authors? They're currently preparing to launch another funding campaign in October to write a series of Promised Land Stories representing all kinds of LGBTQ characters in children's literature. Hopefully, kids everywhere will see themselves in these stories and know that their potential is limitless.
Buy Promised Land here!