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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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

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Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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5 Songs to Add to Your Playlist This Month

Spring into finals week (and the summer) by "cleaning up" your playlist

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Here are some fun, fresh new tracks to check out as you finish out the rest of the school year and help you get out of your "music comfort zone!"

“Patience” by Tame Impala 

Genre: Electronic/Alternative

Tame Impala FINALLY released new music (!!), and this track is absolutely stunning. With frontrunner Kevin Parker staying on brand with the band's psychedelic, seemingly ethereal style, it sounds like a combination of 70s soft rock and waves of modern-day electronica, with Parker's voice drifting in and out in a kind of otherworldly, mellowed-out manner.

“Harmony Hall” by Vampire Weekend 

Genre: Alternative/Indie Pop

Vampire Weekend is also releasing an album, entitled "Father of the Bride", on May 3rd. From the looks of it, this track relates to the theme of marriage/weddings present in the album's title, and it is a fun, upbeat song that I have been listening to a lot in the morning as I'm getting ready for class! Ezra Koenig's voice is so unique and can cover a broad range, and I highly recommend listening to some of the band's other work as well ("Step" from their 2013 release "Modern Vampires of the City" is one of my all-time favorite songs!).

“Ready to Let Go” by Cage the Elephant 

Genre: Alternative/Alternative Rock

So many great artists are (finally) releasing new albums this year, and Cage the Elephant falls into this category. This track is an absolute banger and doesn't stray much from the band's style in that it includes a lot of loud guitar and dynamic vocals. Like Vampire Weekend, Cage the Elephant has been around since the early 2000s, and I highly recommend checking out some of their earlier work as well (big fan of their most recent album, actually!)

“Apple Orchard” by Beach House 

Genre: Indie/Electronic

Beach House is one of my favorite bands of all time, as I find a kind of an ethereal, beautiful sadness in the dreamy style of instrumentalist Alex Scally and lucid vocals of singer Victoria Legrand. This track is from their 2006 self-titled debut and is probably one of my favorite songs they've ever released. The lyrics are poetic and perfect for the post-finals enjoyment of spring weather, in that they preach relaxation and restfulness, and the song's electronic rhythms echo the essence of spring as well. If you like this song, then I highly recommend checking out the band's other albums as well (Depression Cherry is one of my favorite albums of all time).

“April Come She Will” by Simon & Garfunkel 

Genre: 60s Pop

No spring playlist is complete without a little Simon & Garfunkel! This song is a classic, its timeless, poetic lyrics capturing the epitome of the coming of spring and all its glory. In fact, I consider the entire album (entitled Sound of Silence) to be perfect for the pleasantness and feelings of renewal/natural revitalization associated with the coming months, so be sure to give it a listen if you haven't heard it before!

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