Catherine Hernandez is the Artistic Director of Sulong Theatre, a twice-published playwright, performer and burlesque diva, a radical, queer, femme, brown, single mama who resides in Toronto, Canada.
A couple of years ago, I had a partner who is trans. I had to explain to my daughter, Arden, that backlash was expected from our super-conservative blood family because her mama was, yet again, screwing around with their heteronormative comforts and their hopes that one day I might straighten out for God's sake. She placed her tiny, eight-year-old hand on mine with the compassion of Oprah in the face of yet another crying interviewee and said "Is it because he's in a trance?"
This about sums up my daughter's experience in this world: Beautifully crafted concepts of sexuality and gender representation understood with the wonder and innocence of a child. 'Rainbow Day' instead of 'Pride'. 'Trance' instead of 'trans' (although I explained to her that it was in fact our blood family who was in a trance.) Only now she is a very sophisticated ten year old who uses terms like 'slut-shaming', 'polyamory' and 'chosen pronouns' as often as the average kid her age might use the term 'hashtag'. It has been a wondrous journey to get to this place of progressive living for both of us. And with every step of the way, I have been blessed with the love of community members in the LGBTQ2S spectrum in ensuring my life as a queer, brown, radical single mama is a success in its own way.
So you can imagine the intense happy yet ugly crying I did when S. Bear Bergman (children's book author and publisher) asked me to be an author for the Flamingo Rampant Book Club. The subscription series of six books (one every other month delivered to your door) will celebrate the great and wide variety of LGBTQ2S kids, families, and communities; half of them written by people of color with actual people of color characters featured in them. To get the series started, Bergman has launched a kickstarter for people to pre-order the books with only until Aug 10th to make it happen. We have already surpassed the $37,000 mark but need to make it to $49,000 to make history.
My contribution to the series will be my first children’s book called M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book. Based on my many marches with Arden (see picture of her as the 2009 Dyke March Tyke on a Bike for the Dykes), the book will follow in an ABC format, a small child as she gets ready to march alongside her mama at Pride. “A is for Ally which mama and I try to be every day”; “M is for Mustache which mama draws on my face before we march”; “Q is for Quiet Down, which mama and I will never do. Which is why mama and I will always scream and shout” are some of my favourite pages so far. My fellow femme, Mohawk and Cayuga artist and shaman Kiley May is also on board with their Onkwehon:we (Indigenous) story of a gender-independent young child finding the power in his long hair and his own expression of gender.
I am over the moon for many reasons. Partly because the family we are, will forever be validated on the pages of this book. Secondly, because I know all families -- even straight allies and progressives -- will benefit from this series by helping raise kids with healthy, positive attitudes about people of any and all genders and sexualities. What we hope is that the series will stop bullying, homophobia and gender-policing before it even starts. If you think about the powerful conversations that will follow reading these books to our young, you too will realize this isn't just a subscription series. This is a revolution led by children.
Pre-order your books for the Flamingo Rampant Book Club here.