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A Point of Pride

Jun/07/2024 / by Abhijit Masih

A new book documents the ABCs of Queer History

Emmy Award-winning journalist, medical doctor and Professor Dr. Seema Yasmin grew up without the books she wishes she had as a young queer person—so she decided to write one. In her latest picture book, The ABCs of Queer History, readers ages 5 and up can learn concepts beyond simple ABC words to explore what it means to be accepting, brave, compassionate and inclusive. She spoke with SEEMA about the book and its journey into the world. 

What inspired you to write The ABCs of Queer History?

I’m very much inspired by Toni Morrison who said in a speech in 1981: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” My hope is that any queer person – kids and adults, who sees this book, sees some part of themselves or their community reflected in it. 

It’s a real book about real people with big dreams for inclusion and equity. It’s also full of surprising stories of badass people who lived their lives as they pleased, even back in the 1800s! The ABCs of Queer History is brimming with the inspiration to live our truest, fullest, most authentic lives.  

What’s the importance of educating children about queer history and LGBTQ+ identities from a young age? 

The book begins with: “A is for always because we are not new. We have been here forever since the sky has been blue.“ It’s a way of reminding ourselves that our existence isn’t novel—we’ve been here! 

Queer people have made huge contributions to society that has been erased from the history books. This book corrects those grave omissions and shows children that being queer is being human, and vice versa. There are still too many stories of young lives cut short because of feelings of alienation and rejection. This book says “enough.” Let’s live our lives with pride. Let’s build a world in which every child feels loved. 

What role do you believe educators and parents play in facilitating conversations about LGBTQ+ issues? 

Adults have great power in how children and young people understand queer issues, and how they process conversations around differences and inclusion. But I’ve spoken to so many adults, including teachers and librarians, who say they feel underequipped, especially in the current climate, to properly engage in these important, often life-affirming or even life-saving conversations. 

That’s the beauty of picture books: they’re accessible, they’re fun, they educate you without feeling like a lecture! The back section of The ABCs of Queer History includes helpful language for adults to get into these important conversations. 

Can you share any feedback you’ve received from readers about the book? 

People tell me that when they were a kid and felt rejected, it was a book that stopped them from ending their life — a book in which queer characters lived full lives. That might be hard to imagine if you’ve grown up with a consistent sense of belonging, but for those who haven’t, literature offers a glimpse into another future, a future in which queer kids thrive and laugh and live big lives.

Seema

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