RAINBOW READS | Pocketmags.com

6 mins


There is a thriving community of LGTBTQ+ creatives in Ireland making amazing, diverse and inclusive books for children. Just in time for Pride, here are a few suggestions to fill you bookshelves.

For a long time it was rare to see positive LGBTQ+ representation in books for adults, never mind for younger readers, so it is heartening to see stories by and for LGBTQ+ people now filling the shelves.

Claire Hourihane from Children’s Books Ireland said it best: “These books aren’t just a welcome reflection of the many different types of families that children encounter, but an important tool in empowering them to be themselves, whether at home, in school or with their friends…there is such power in seeing yourself in a book.”

Let’s take a look at just a handful of LGBTQ+ creators, see what inspires them, and what messages they have for their younger readers.

Bob Johnston, who will be familiar to patrons of the wonderful Gutter Bookshop, is the writer of Our Big Day, created alongside illustrator Michael Emberly. It’s a celebration of love, family and same-sex weddings.

“Our Big Day is a children’s picturebook aimed at the 3-7 years age group and celebrates a same-sex wedding in a fun and lively story about a little girl, a big black dog called Bear, and some missing wedding rings! It’s illustrated by the wonderful Michael Emberley and was inspired by my own wedding to the artist Leon McAleenan in 2016 following the passing of the Marriage Equality Referendum in May 2015.

“I wanted our story to be full of love, celebration, family, friends and happiness and I hope that’s what we’ve managed to capture in this book. I grew up at a time when there wasn’t any representation in children’s books of different kinds of families and love and I really wish there had been, it would have really helped me to realise that living as an LGBT person can mean a normal life with all the love and stability that brings. It’s great that young people today can see LGBT lives represented in the books that they read and the TV and films that they watch. I hope that kids and adults alike enjoy the story of Our Big Day and laugh along with Bear’s antics as well as seeing that love is love and different kinds of relationships are not only normal, but something to be celebrated.”

Amongst other works, Adiba Jaigirdar is the writer of the YA queer love story, Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating, and the Dublin-set charmer, The Henna Wars.

“My inspiration comes from a lot of places. I’ve grown up in a culture that really loves and celebrates storytelling so wanting to create my own stories definitely comes from having grown up in this culture. But I’ve also been motivated by the fact that so many of the stories that I read in books, or watched in TV shows or movies, never really reflected any part of my own identity. In fact, growing up I consumed a lot of media that perpetuated a lot of harm, specifically towards people of colour and LGBTQ+ people, or both at once.

“I’ve always wanted to be able to read a book that speaks to who I am and what my experiences are. Unfortunately, until I wrote that book myself, it didn’t happen.

“I think that being a teenager is difficult in so many ways because it’s when we’re trying to figure out who we are in relation to the world around us. But I know that being a marginalised teen is even more difficult, because oftentimes, we feel like we are so alone in who we are and in the things that we experience. So, to my younger readers I would like to say that even if it feels like we are alone in our experiences, we aren’t. The world is a lot bigger than we think it is when we’re young. When I was young, books were a way for me to feel less alone, but sometimes they made me feel even more alone because what I thought was always reflected back at me: nobody in books looked like me, nobody had a name like mine, nobody was from my cultures (or if they were, it was seen as a bad thing). But I know that things have come a long way since then, and I hope that my books, along with all of the wonderfully diverse books being published right now, can make you feel a little less alone.”

Fatti Burke is a much-celebrated illustrator whose work is instantly recognisable. She teamed with John Burke for the must-have Michael Collins, the People’s Peacemaker.

“I would say I’m an observational person – Ilike to sit back and take things in, so as a result I’m left with a bundle of ideas whirling around in my head at all times: something that made me laugh, a beautiful word I just learned, a colour that I keep seeing everywhere. Without my creative work my head would genuinely be a mess of clutter, so drawing and writing is my way of releasing these stories and pictures and making room for something new.

“I think the most important thing is to listen to your gut. There will be times in your life when you will be steered away from your dreams in order to try please other people, well-intentioned as they may be. It is an act of bravery to be your own cheerleader and to navigate life’s weird wobbles in a way that feels right for you.”

The amazing novel Gut Feelings by CG Moore is filling a very important gap in terms of representation –young LGBTQ+ people navigating life while dealing with a chronic illness.

“As a rule, you’re supposed to write for your reader but I write for myself. I try to be vulnerable and bring my own personal experiences to my writing to show young readers that it’s okay to be who you are. Whether it’s chronic illness, identity or accepting yourself, I am excited in being able to explore these themes from my own lived experiences and challenge myself to write in a way that engages readers.

“I think it’s really important to embrace and accept who you are. It’s not an easy journey but being true to yourself will attract real friends and chosen family.

“Life is paved with setbacks but if we don’t experience the bad, we can never bask in those truly joyous moments. It took me almost ten years to get published. Just because you don’t see someone like you succeeding in life doesn’t mean that you can’t too. You can be a trailblazer if you work hard and believe in yourself.”

Another book that comes highly recommended is the beautiful Why the Moon Travels by Oein Debhairduin - a collection of folk stories from the Minceir community. Illustrated by Leanne McDonagh, the book of contemporary and ancient tales which describes the heart of the Traveller community as “a bonfire of remembrance and connection”, are interspersed with glimpses of a love-soaked childhood.

This gorgeous selection of books are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what talented Irish LGBTQ+ creatives are making for younger readers. Take these recommendations as a starting point to build up your bookshelves for the Pride season and read, read, read!

Happy Pride, dear readers.

This article appears in 372

Go to Page View
This article appears in...
Go to Page View
Welcome, dear reader, to the very special Pride edition of GCN!
What are you most looking forward to about being able to celebrate Pride together this year?
NXF in conversation with Misha Tumasov
Give the Gift of Pride
As Pride gets ever closer, many of us are looking forward to reconnecting with friends and marching the streets once again surrounded by rainbow flags.
Preserving Our History
Over 34 years, the lives of LGBTQ+ people, their stories, successes and struggles have been captured in the pages of GCN magazine.
Trans Equality Together
A coalition working to create an Ireland where Trans and nonbinary people are equal, safe and valued will be officially launched this month.
As he takes the reins of the much-beloved LGBTQ+ community space located in the heart of Dublin, Oisin O’Reilly shares with Ethan Moser his vision for the future of Outhouse.
I still find it hard to locate my 'queerness' at times. I genuinely worry about it. Is it at the bottom of a pint in the gay bars or clubs I frequent? Or did I leave it in my house next to my keys?
The work to disregard historic convictions of gay and bisexual men.
This month, our beautiful green country celebrates every colour of the Pride rainbow. Pride has become a glorious country-wide annual occasion full of festivities, fun and jubilation.
In light of plans to open a new pub in The Liberties, Keev Boyle Darby caughtup with John Keelan, a beloved ally and bouncer on Dublin’s LGBTQ+ scene to chat about his addition to the city: All My Friends. Portrait by Hazel Coonagh
Non-binary Lesbians: Identity Based on Inclusion
Lesbianism has an intricate and mixed history, particularly when it comes to gender identity and presentation. Many modern views on lesbianism, however, appear to be attempting to erase this. Leighton Gray and Em O’Connell discuss that, whether done consciously or unconsciously as a means of defence, current views on the community are becoming far too simplistic and stagnant.
The Beat Goes On!
There are icons and then there’s Cher. Conor Behan got a tour behind the scenes of a new must-see stage musical based on the life of one of pop’s greatest stars.
Battling the myth that Disabled People are unhappy, Alannah Murray speaks to friends to find out what sparks joy and how they celebrate their community.
DISSOLVED GIRL : Learning to Live Without Compromise
In a quarantine hotel room in Hong Kong, Nat Mak finally decided they were void.
With Pride season upon us, Saoirse Schad spoke to Matt and Róisín about their experience of being ‘hidden’ during this most colourful and rainbow-filled time of the year.
With over 40 years of support for LGBTQ+ rights in Ireland coming from the Trade Unions movement, Beatrice Fanucci looks back on a lesser known ally for our community.
Making an exhibition
In February 2022, a report in The Journal highlighted the awarding of a café and services tender to Aramark by The National Gallery of Ireland. Artist Brian Teeling explains why this struck a nerve across the country.
Despite many queer women representing Ireland on an international sporting level, the lack of openly queer men has raised questions about whether the male sporting sphere is inherently homophobic. Alice Linehan takes a closer look
“Just two gay lads having a cup of tea and talking shit at the kitchen table.” That’s how PJ Kirby described to Peter Dunne the show he and Kevin Twomey have created. But while it may have come from humble beginnings, I’m Grand Mam has taken the podcast world by storm and shown that nothing brings us together better than laughter
In 1982, Declan Flynn was murdered by a gang of five homophobic men in Fairview park. The tragedy sparked outcry from the LGBTQ+ community, and is seen as a key moment in the development of the country’s queer rights movement, including the emergence of the Dublin Pride parade. 40 years on, as Alice Linehan describes, it is abundantly clear that Pride is as necessary as ever as Ireland is experiencing an alarming rise in homophobic violence.
Dating and Difference AGE
Dating based on demographic status is nothing new. It is nowhere more prevalent than the online dating world. Granted, for the most part, this world mostly stays away from problematic selection processes that may be deemed discriminatory (disability, economic status, etc), though this is an ongoing evolution. Race, for example, has only been removed from the Grindr search filters within the last few years. But almost all dating platforms will ask what age range you’re willing to date within; this, apparently, is more acceptable, describes Adrian Colwell.
Life After Life
Tír na mBeo - The Land of the Living is a new documentary film highlighting LGBTQ+ people in Ireland during lockdown. Its creator, Pradeep Mahadeshwar, shares the journey of making a window into queer lives during a troubled time
Absolutely no regrets
The monumental new photobook by the incredible Niamh Barry, No Queer Apologies, questions the ways in which queerness exists, permeates, and even reshapes the space around us. We are delighted to share its beauty.
Chemsex, also referred to as the After Party scene, has inspired many a conversation amongst the queer community. Naturally, a scene involving drugs and sex will provoke certain perceptions to those who don’t partake, but there is more to it than an easy judgement would suggest. Brian Dillon spoke to the queer creatives looking at the scene head on in a potent new show.
In recent years, the visibility and representation of Transgender people has increased. Across pop culture, sports, politics and the news media, Trans people are more seen and talked about than ever before. This of course, doesn’t come without its downsides, as Ezra Maloney discusses.
It has been 20 years since Eddie McGuiness, his then-partner Paul O’Connor, and artivist and designer Will St Leger launched a brand new publishing venture: a glossy LGBTQ+ culture bible in B5 format called FREE! Magazine. Alan Kelly looks back at a magazine that proved so popular it expanded into the world of telly, extended its reach to the UK, and featured Westlife in their first-ever interview for a gay magazine.
For years now, many queer readers have been focused on the ‘issue’ of presumably straight women writing books about, specifically, gay men...
There is a thriving community of LGTBTQ+ creatives in Ireland making amazing, diverse and inclusive books for children. Just in time for Pride, here are a few suggestions to fill you bookshelves.
‘My Own Personal Sligo’ will be forever rainbow-strewn
Izzy Kamikaze shares a personal journey through the LGBTQ+ agony and ecstasy of a town that could be any town.
Crushing on Queers
It can be exciting when we meet people who buzz off something creative in the same way we do. It’s like a fast-track to some sort of immediate bond. Adrian Colwell shares how this feeling led to the creation of the new social event, Queer Crushes.
The founder of QAPI, Pradeep Mahadeshwar, shares why the organisation is necessary and how to get involved.
From rocks carved into penises to steam-powered vibrators, Louise Blake gives just the tip on a brief history of sex toys that will leave you yearning to know more.
Sports & Fitness
Inspiring the LGBT+ community to be active
Exploring LGBTQI+Healthcare in Ireland
Dr John P Gilmore is Assistant Professor in Nursing at University College Dublin. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Fulbright HRB Health Impact Scholar award which will support him to travel to San Francisco next year to research models of community-led LGBTQI+ healthcare
Highlighting LGBTQ+ Creatives
Fans of queer comics may already have come across the work of Floatyspacecat. For those who haven’t, here’s the perfect introduction. Jacob L awrence, the artist behind it all, caught up with GCN and shared their journey
Highlighting LGBTQ+ Creatives
Daniel Mooney is the illustrator behind Mundomoo and this U=U artwork which he made in collaboration with Veda and the Poz Vibe podcast
Looking for back issues?
Browse the Archive >

Previous Article Next Article
Page 104