Written by Treyvone Moosa
Authors: Chanél Mansfield and Luther Galloway
What is the name of the project and what is the inspiration behind it?
We are writing and publishing a children’s picture book called ‘What’s Wrong With Glitter?’. The book is inspired by my best friend and co-author Luther Galloway. We have been friends since our school days, and I have experienced his journey of coming out and embracing who he is. Once I started my publishing company, What Now Publishers, I knew publishing this book with Luther was absolutely necessary. There are too few children’s books involving queer mentors and Luther and I both have young children in our lives, and we want to encourage their understanding and appreciation of all people. We are responsible for the new generation and their wellbeing and that is best shown through inclusive narratives.
What is the story about, without spoilers?
Uncle Kelly is a drag performer who lives with his nephew Eli. Eli is about to start school and he has a birthmark on his face that he is afraid he will be bullied about. Uncle Kelly helps Eli find his confidence and encourages him to love himself as he is. Eli finds a creative way of owning his insecurity and with his new confidence makes friends and inspires other children to accept their peers, and to even express their own creativity.
One of the central figures in the book is gay, why was it important for you to centre queer narratives in the work?
More often than not, children’s books are centred around the traditional family structure and the mentors in these books almost never expand beyond parental figures. With the world is evolving, people are embracing who they are, and I believe, as a mother it is my responsibility to teach my daughter the value in people, no matter their preferences. With the book we aim to shatter the queer stereotypes and break barriers. I always tell Luther that being queer is only one aspect of who he is. He is many things beyond that, he is a stylist, he is a make-up artist, and an all round caring and funny person. We want to break the habit of referring to a queer person as, ‘the gay make-up artist’ or ‘the gay engineer’ and so on. Queer people are mentors that are often overlooked due to preconceived teachings, that have resulted in many negative connotations, that we believe need a voice especially in a transmuting South Africa and the world.
As a writer, are you not apprehensive about how parents and educators may find a book that features queerness?
The simple answer is, No. The time for protecting conservative perspectives and values has passed. Those that feel uncomfortable with the content are the ones who need to read the book most. Again, the book is not centred primarily around queerness, the book is about illustrating how a queer person has more to them than just being queer. They are uncles, moms, mentors, that have important and exciting gems of knowledge they should be shared with everyone.
One of the themes in the writing seems to be about othering and the acceptance of self. Why is that important?
Most of us, at one point or another in our lives, have felt uncomfortable or insecure about ourselves, and that feeling can do immense harm to a person. Learning how to love and accept yourself first will lead to having better relationships with others. Your younger years are paramount in your development, and by reaching out to children – and their parents – we have an opportunity to positively influence growth in the early stages of their lives. We see far too many people battling, mentally, with who they are because they have been conditioned to believe they are unimportant or too different and it has such a negative ripple effect on other areas of their lives. We need to start respecting, embracing others, and protecting each other. We need to allow love and appreciation to overshadow hate and disapproval.
What can we expect next out of the series?
Uncle Kelly, the main mentor, will be used throughout the series to help teach children, and hopefully some adults about various social issues. Each book will focus on a particular issue and Uncle Kelly will guide a child through it. We want to keep the series fun, bright and lovable (and almost ageless). We want people to fall in love with Uncle Kelly and his love and leadership.
Where will the project launch and where will it be available?
The book will be available on the What Now Publishers website (www.whatnowpublishers.com) and we are in talks with having the book distributed into several retail stores. We constantly do updates on all our social media platforms about the book and we will most certainly promote where it will be available and when. The book will be available at the end of March 2021.
Follow us on
@whatnowpublishers (Instagram and Facebook)
@l8bluumer (Luther Galloway)
@chaneljmansfield (Chanél Mansfield)
Synopsis of What’s Wrong With Glitter?