A new children’s book that features a gay relationship is dedicated to the victims of the Orlando shooting that saw 49 people murdered at the Pulse nightclub in Florida last year.
New Zealand authors Adam Reynolds and Chaz Harris had just finished putting the final touches on Promised Land when news broke of the Orlando shooting at Pulse gay nightclub that killed 49.
“I was personally very affected by it,” Harris told BuzzFeed.
“There was a vigil here in Wellington that I went along to. I had people saying ‘Why were you so upset? Did you know anyone who died?’ But an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
Promised Land is a gay fairy tale aimed at children aged 5-10 and tells the story of a prince who falls in love with a farmhand in an enchanted forest.
“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,” says Reynolds.
“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.”
The story takes place in the Kingdom of Valeria and features landmarks that pay tribute to LGBT+ activists and icons such as Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson.
Reynolds and Harris say that while Promised Land features a same-sex relationship, they decided it wouldn’t be the main focus of the narrative.
“Our story features two lead characters who meet and fall in love that just happen to be [of the] same sex,” says Harris. “Nobody questions it. That was vitally important to both of us.”