THE STORY BEHIND THE BIG GAY ALPHABET COLORING BOOK

Gay has been used for decades as a negative slur to denote something as ugly, weird or uncool. In my circle of Queer friends, we have reclaimed the statements “you’re so gay” and “that’s so gay” to mean that something is AWESOME, perfect, extremely good or delightful. So that got me thinking about all the amazing things that have come out of or are associated with LGBTQP culture: rainbows, musicals, glitter, unicorns, activism, and on and on! There are all these things that just wouldn’t be here without Queer people. Would we have jazz hands if it were not for all the gay choreographers? Who are the biggest, most exuberant fans of the movies Roller Derby and Beaches?

 
 

 

Since 2001, I have been collaborating with different artists, making coloring books that celebrate feminist, queer and trans people and ideas. I started making them because I didn’t see myself or my friends anywhere in media that was made for children. We were all children once and if you grow up not seeing a representation of your family, your feelings, your crushes, or your loves in ANY media at all, it is really hard to keep your head held high, let alone keep your tiara in place. In children’s movies, video games, books and TV, heterosexuality is not just the norm, it is very near the only way romantic love is ever represented. As an educator, I have spent many years working with kids of all ages who were literally dying to be seen and heard, overcoming abuse, neglect, homelessness and torture simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. I wanted to create books which offered a fresh way for people to look at stereotypes and oppression. If you can get people to laugh at themselves and at cultural expectations, their hearts will be more receptive to taking a hard look at difficult issues. Once you have opened someone's heart with a joke or a good laugh, you are better able to do the hard work of liberation together. Though my work directly draws from feminist, queer, and transgender scholarship and activism, I try to make it accessible to people of all ages via the familiarity of coloring books. I LOVE COLORING, I always have. It is relaxing, creative and fun….  And above all, I just want people to be proud of themselves.

When I decided to make The Big Gay Alphabet Coloring Book, I approached it a bit differently than my other three books. With those books, I paid less attention to the design and more attention to the content. I just wanted to get the message to people. By the time the idea for this book came about, I had spent several years studying vintage books, art and design and wanted to incorporate a bit of what I had always loved about certain design into a book. I spent a week in my friend Neko Case’s library of old books, taking notes, snapping photos, and collecting ideas for what would become this book. She has a beautiful farm in Vermont. It’s not a bad place to spend a week working! And then I reached out to Leela Corman, who I had met 13 years ago at a writing retreat with Lynda Barry. We had stayed in touch through the years and I had followed her work. I was blown away when she published Unterzakhn, a hauntingly gorgeous graphic novel about two sisters growing up in New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1900s. When she said that she would love to illustrate The Big Gay Alphabet Coloring Book, we set out collaborating by sending ideas through email and setting up shared documents that we could work on from two different states. It took over a year, and luckily my publisher, PM Press/Reach and Teach was psyched about the project.

When you look at the history of the word Gay, it meant “exuberant, bright, attractive, lively, happy…” The antonyms for Gay are “joyless, depressed, lifeless, spiritless…” So the next time someone says “you’re so gay” to you, say “thanks”.

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BIG GAY ALPHABET TEACHES YOU THE ABCs!

Confession: it has been 5 years since my last coloring book.

When I first met Leela Corman over 10 years ago at a Lynda Barry Writing the Unthinkable retreat, I never dreamed that we would one day create a book of ABCs together.  I have come to be a great admirer of her and her work. And there is a very special photo of her pre-teen self in the back of our new book. You should buy it just for that.

A is for Astrology. B is for Beaches. C is for City Hall... Sixty-four pages illustrating 26 words highlighting memorable victories, collective moments and ordinary schemes in LGBTQP culture. As you crack the spine on this book, we hope you are left asking, “Isn't everything fabulous in this world just a little bit gay?” You must have already wondered that anyway, right? This question is celebrated on every page.

I am enduringly grateful to PM Press and Reach & Teach who continue to say yes to to my irreverent field studies. They are the embodiment of the perfect publishers, growing wildly in an age where indie print media has taken a nose dive. I love them and all the revolutionary writers they support. Take a look at their catalog when you have a chance.

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Mountainous gratitude goes out to Serena Rodriguez who sat for unnamed hours with me in my living room and helped me turn my sketches and brain dreams into a print media reality. ALSO immense love to Julie Novak who can go back and forth with me for hours out-gaying one another. It is because of friends like her that I can even think of things like this. Colossal appreciation for Neko Case who let me run rampant in her gorgeous library of vintage books so I could take notes, snap photos and study as I made preparations for this book. These people are all so supremely good, through and through.

Most of all, thank YOU! Maybe you bought a book directly from me and sent it to your niece. Maybe you came to one of my workshops and made me cry with your vast amounts of love & creativity. Maybe you sent me a nice letter. Maybe you told me what a difference my book made to your family. YOU keep me going, filled with support and encouragement.

The best place to buy the book is from my etsy shop, but it will also be online anywhere you find books.

 
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WILL WORK FOR LOVE

REPOSTED FROM KEIKO SONO'S BLOG:

Jacinta Bunnell is a fabulous example of creative and energetic people found in our Hudson Valley community. She is a productive artist and children’s book author, and an assistant 2nd grade teacher at High Meadow School in Stone Ridge, New York. She is also a co-founder of the Hudson Valley Broads’ Regional Arm Wrestling League (BRAWL), where she is known as Magenta Delecta.

There is no better proof that art is life, not a profession or commodity, than Jacinta. Her house, her life, her wardrobe, even her friends are all colorful, vibrant, and fun. Her artworks reflect events and pieces of her life, and her life is full of her artistic sensibility. She incorporates works by children in her work; she uses paint samples to create a garland to decorate her house. She even created artworks out of a tragedy. In 2011, the house she and her partner Michael were renting was flooded in Hurricane Irene. So much of their belongings were damaged. Her friends poured their support in the days following the storm, cleaning and drying damaged belongings, including stacks of paper which were laid out on the lawn to dry and photographed by Michael Asbill. Later she used those sheets of paper to create a map of Stone Ridge, which hangs in their new house.

The Hudson Valley BRAWL also blurs the line between art and life. Ordinary people like teachers, accountants, and nurses, adopt alter-personas like Accupunisher and Pushy Galore, clad themselves in elaborate costumes and put on a show with entourages, who collect money from the audience to raise fund for a charity, different at each event. “The BRAWL planning committee is made up of working class people. We are not your typical philanthropists, but we do this because it is important community work.” Being at the BRAWL always makes me wonder what art is.

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EIGHT TRACKS TO FREEDOM: A CONVERSATION WITH NEKO CASE

REPOSTED FROM A HUDSON VALLEY SEED LIBRARY GUEST BLOG:

Jacinta: Fixed in my mind are the memories of driving around town with my mother listening to The Sound of Music, Paint Your Wagon, and Blood on the Tracks on the 8-track player in our car.  My mom was and still is a great fan of musicals and Bob Dylan. We had a humble collection of well-loved 8-tracks, more like relatives than collections of songs because of the way they were woven into the fundamental nature of family life. As much as I adore the ease and comfort of my life now, I find myself hankering for certain aspects of an extraordinarily vivid and simple past, a time when I did not have thousands of songs in a digital library I can carry anywhere, when the only periodical to choose was Mad Magazine, when I would stretch the coiled phone cord into the other room to have a private conversation with a girlfriend. I could be ever so satisfied with a life surrounded by heirlooms. When I was young, my mother feared I would be crushed eventually by my collection of all things baby and all things old. I wanted to be surrounded by old details like grandmas, Roman numerals and oak iceboxes. Baby everything (game pieces, furry animals and sequins) have always been irresistible to me. Heirloom seeds are the perfect combination of baby and old: a single seed contains ancient shared intelligence that each of us can tap into and yet is not even in the infancy of its growth: all at the same time!  When planning a visit to see my friend Neko Case at her farm in rural Vermont, I wanted to bring her a personalized gift.  I knew she had a huge garden filled with heirloom vegetables that was her solace after long exhausting weeks of travel as a touring musician. So I re-purposed a vintage 8-track cassette case for Neko and filled it with many of my favorite Hudson Valley Seed Library seed packets. On the inside of the box, I carefully wrote the word “heirloom” in a script inspired by old-fashioned handwriting. I even prefer old lettering to new. Upon receiving the gift, she added to its riches with her existing collection of heirloom seed packets without delay. Later that weekend, she proudly showed me around her garden as we harvested that evening’s dinner. Of the treasured growth, there was none she was more proud of than the beans she had grown from saving last year’s seeds.

Neko: Receiving the 8-track seed case was like getting the most custom-made personal gift ever. Jacinta knows how I feel about heirloom seeds so it was the most hopeful and super joyful gift anyone could get. The 8-track player was a huge part of my childhood and I have always bought those 8-track carriers at thrift stores. I would feel bad throwing out the organizing slots because I am not a thrower-away of stuff. But seed packets fit perfectly! I am not surprised that Jacinta came up with this idea because she is a super clever person. It is one of those times when you feel like a total a-hole for not coming up with it yourself!  I come from a farming family. All I am thinking about right now is this particular time we live in and what rebellion means within that context. The most subversive thing you can do in the U.S. is to grow your own food. It is traditional, therapeutic and grounding. Feeding people is the greatest feeling. Seeds are about community, even if you are just growing for yourself. Growing plants that are native to your region gives you a real respect for your food. It is our most basic need next to air and water.  When I received the 8-track seed case I thought about how Fred Flintstone always bought Wilma a bowling ball for her birthday because it was what he wanted, not what she wanted...and how Jacinta’s gift was exactly the opposite of that. It made me realize how much someone really cares about me and knows me. It is a f*ing genius idea!

Neko Case is a musician and gardener who lives in rural Vermont.

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Source: http://www.seedlibrary.org/blog/eight-trac...

WE LOVE MARGARET CHO

Recently, our friend Jon Wurster of Superchunk gifted Margaret Cho a set of our coloring books. Here she is modeling them. We think she's pretty adorbs. And fantastic. Who isn't a fan of Margaret Cho?

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