By Mitch Kellaway
Originally published on Advocate.com July 16 2014 4:52 PM ET
As the parent of a kindergartner, S. Bear Bergman — the queer, trans funnyman who has authored six LGBT-themed books, including Butch is a Noun and Blood, Marriage, Wine, and Glitter — says he spends a lot of time looking for the kinds of books he can feel good about giving his child: ones that "represent our family and friends in positive, celebratory ways."
But those books aren't always easy to find. That's why Bergman and his partner, writer j wallace, took matters into their own hands by founding Flamingo Rampant, a children's book press. In 2012, they released Backwards Day and The Adventures of Tulip, the Birthday Wish Fairy, two whimsical tales that feature young, gender-independent protagonists.
The couple's initial efforts met with an enthusiastic response, much to the surprise of the large publishing houses that, according to Curve, told Bergman and wallace there was no market for books about trans children. But after those first two titles, the small press remained quiet for two years.
But now, the silence has ended. This week, Flamingo Rampant unveiled its latest ambitious project: a year-long subscription book club that will deliver "LGBTQ2S-themed" picture books to subscribers' doors. For a genre that can boast only a couple handfuls of high-quality books, releasing 6 in one year — as the project intends to do, according its Kickstarter — is an enormous leap forward.
According to Bergman, the subscription service will fill a gap left by the recent dwindling of independent feminist and LGBT bookstores. "[This is] a curated choice of books that represent really positive values about our community," he says in the video accompanying the project's Kickstarter campaign, and included below. "We're trying to do something different [than big press conglomerates]," he continues, proudly pointing out how the project is explicitly by and for queer and trans people.
How does the Flamingo Rampant Book Club intend to widen literature for its pre-K to 3rd grade readership? For one, the books will explicitly feature lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit people, says Bergman in a statement. "Yes," he adds, "we really mean ALL of those identities. No more erasure or invisibility!"
Further, he says, half of the books feature kids or families of color — "as in, the book is about them, not that they wander through on one page." Lastly, he highlights the books' emphasis on joy and celebration, in contrast to the many books about LGBT and gender-independent children that are about bullying or facing difficult events.
If the Flamingo Rampant Book Club's fundraiser successfully meets its goal — or far exceeds it, as with the Kickstarter that first launched the press itself — subscribers will receive a new children's book every other month delivered, as Bergman reveals with his signature wit, "in a bright pink envelope. And almost certainly with some glitter."
Expected titles include Catherine Hernandez's M is for Mustache, an ABC picture book filled with the images and values of Pride; a book by indigenous author Kiley May about a gender-independent boy finding strength in his long hair; and Bergman's Is That For a Boy or Girl?, which features twelve kids rhyming about their gender binary-defying interests.
To learn more about the project, watch the video of Bergman and his adorable son below.