By L.G. Parker
“I’m very inspired by fantasy,” Kendrick Daye, illustrator of Large Fears, shared with me in an interview.
“I never challenge a story that is very rooted in fantasy and filled with adventure, because it becomes a coping mechanism for kids growing up and struggling to be accepted.”
Jeremiah Nebula, a little black boy who likes pink, spent most of his days alone during recess and without friends, until Myles E. Johnson and Kendrick Daye decided to help him tell his story.
“We wanted to see a queer black boy represented in children’s books,” the team says on their Kickstarter campaign[LP1] , “and instead of waiting for it to come to be, we created it.”
Although the aesthetics of Jeremiah Nebula’s story are very fantastical, he has a lot in common with his creators. “Literature protected me,” Johnson says, “from a world that tried to reinforce that as a young queer black child, my story and experience wasn’t soaked in magic and opportunity for growth.”
“I think growing up and feeling like you’re misunderstood or marginalized,” Daye added, “you become a daydreamer naturally and create rich worlds where you’re always accepted, acknowledged and seen.”
Daye and Johnson have launched a thirty-day fundraiser through Kickstarter in order to print copies of the book and launch the Large Fears workshop series. “We wanted Large Fears to be more than a product that is sold,” Johnson explained, “but an experience.”
After launching the workshop in Atlanta in July 2015, the duo intends to travel to New York City and then San Francisco. Most funds raised will go towards workshops.
From the book to the workshops, Johnson says that he and Kendrick’s ultimate goal is “to see children with queer gender and sexuality stories participate in this, especially the ones of color, who will always be the focus of anything to do with Large Fears. We want queer children of color to know that their birthright is to take up space and live to their highest expression.”
Donate, today, to put Large Fears in the hands of black, queer youth and their parents.
L.G. Parker is a poet and writer living in Richmond, VA. She is a Callaloo fellow and regular contributor to Elixher Magazine, Blavity, and the Black Youth Project.