Promised Land: An LGBTQ+ Children's Book

Promised Land: An LGBTQ+ Children's Book

Representation is an important factor in acceptance.
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If there's one thing that the media could have more of, it would be representation. It is important for all marginalized groups to be represented in the media, including literature. Literature and other forms of media surround every inch of our society. In order for minorities to want to explore these forms of media, it helps if there are characters in them that reflect them in some way. Characters that they relate to. These characters, if they exist, often are stereotypical and often have little complexity. In the cases of LGBTQ+ characters, their most important storyline is often their sexuality. Imagine if every straight character's main triumph was realizing that they were straight or their storyline only revolved around their sexuality. That is often the only storylines that LGBTQ+ characters get. Their sexuality is always most important, which is not how it should be.

For the LGBTQ+ community, representation has always been slim, especially in literature. But in children's literature? It's almost unheard of. Adam Reynolds and Chaz Harris have created a children's book, Promised Land, that gives more depth to LGBTQ+ characters. The story doesn't revolve around their sexuality, instead, the character's love is a small detail, just like it should be. This story has all of the elements of a great children's book; adventure, an evil villain, a brave hero, and even a cute animal sidekick. It also happens to have two male characters that fall in love.

Another amazing aspect this book has is that Reynolds and Harris hand-picked their artists for the beautiful illustrations throughout this book. Christine Luiten and Bo Moore created 32 unique and intricate illustrations for this beautiful children's book.

Both Reynolds and Harris are part of the LGBTQ+ community themselves, so they used their experiences to fuel the creation of this children's book. Reynolds thought it was important to write stories that he never saw growing up, which is why representation is so important. This book gives LGBTQ+ youth something to relate to and look up to. In a world that has always told us that we are different, it is important for children to have characters that show them that they aren't alone, that there are people out there who love like they do.

When asked why they wanted to create this book, Harris reflects on some of the tragedies that the LGBTQ+ community, and LGBTQ+ youth in particular, have experienced. In an interview with Odyssey, he said he felt "helpless about how you could even begin to change the message so something like that would never happen again." This was his way of contributing to the change in conversation that needs to take place in order for the LGBTQ+ community to be normalized.

When asked the same thing, Reynolds said, "We wanted to create a story where the sexuality of the characters was not the focus and one where their relationship was not an issue. Our hope is that young people growing up and struggling with their sexuality can look at the characters in our book and see themselves represented." He added, "We also hope it may be able to contribute to early acceptance from young people ahead of the time when they may encounter LGBTQ+ classmates, friends, or relatives later on in their lives."

Both Reynolds and Harris realize that although we have made progress, there is still very far to go for the LGBTQ+ community in terms of equality. When asked what is the hardest obstacle for the LGBTQ+ community Harris states, "People choosing fear and hate, to not value all human beings equally instead of choosing love and acceptance. I think that’s what it comes down to in any case of human inequality, isn’t it? " LGBTQ+ fight against others for their equality every day.

Representation helps that fight. It shows members LGBTQ+ community that they can be heroes, villains, sidekicks, and lovers just like their straight counterparts can. It also shows people who are not members of the LGBTQ+ community, that we are just like them. Telling stories that allow LGBTQ+ characters to be more than their sexuality is what is going to impact our society the most. As Reynolds said, "Visibility is one of the most important factors in promoting acceptance."

Reynolds and Harris' hope is that this book will expand the minds of those who read it. Whether it be LGBTQ+ individuals or not. They want to fight against the idea that LGBTQ+ representation in media, especially children's books, is not going to "turn someone gay," as that was one of their biggest criticisms. This book isn't about sex or sexuality for that matter, it's a classic storyline about heroes fighting a villain.

This story will help many LGBTQ+ youth. For them to see characters that are like them in books they're reading is extremely important. No spoilers here but the main characters will have you rooting for their triumph the entire way. Not to mention there are some badass women who break gender roles with such grace that my feminist heart almost exploded.

Pre-order your copy here and look out for the release February 14th!


Cover Image Credit: Promised Land

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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