LGBTQ characters in book Makers

The Maiden Voyage, an LGBTQ Children’s Book

In a land far, far away, women fell in love with other women and it was perfectly alright.

The second children’s book in an inclusive series about LGBTQ adventurers debuts in June 2018, after their November Kickstarter campaign raised $4,000 more than their $40,000 goal. Readers have been waiting for this story for a very long time.

The Maiden Voyage is a fairytale following a fisherman’s daughter, Ru, who is given a treasure map by her father and joins a crew of sailors, captained by the charismatic Freya. Throughout their adventures and escapades together, the two fall in love.

“It’s important for young people to feel included, that they have a place in the world and something they can relate to in Maiden Voyage” co-author Jaimee Poipoi told NBC News. “If they can identify themselves within a story, that empowers them to be who they are.”

The book comes on the heels of Promised Land – an illustrated love story between a prince and a farmer – created by Maiden Voyage’s other co-authors Adam Reynolds and Chaz Harris. The book was also funded through a Kickstarter campaign. A Kindle edition of this story can be found on Amazon.


promised land LGBT Childrens book


A 2011 Florida State University study found that children’s books are severely lacking female characters, let alone LGBTQ characters. Male characters, unsurprisingly, dominated.

The Maiden Voyage is trying to turn these statistics on their heads, highlighting brave and badass LGBTQ and POC characters in their books.

“Girls need to grow up knowing they can be a powerful queen, a brave sea captain, or anything else they set their minds to,” Harris told Upworthy.

For these three authors, giving children representation in the media will offer them the confidence to explore who they truly want to become when they grow up.

“We invite you to step aboard and join us on this journey to bring a little more kindness and love into the world,” their Kickstarter reads. “Because love is love, and everyone deserves to live happily ever after.”


LGBT Children's book authors
Maiden Voyage authors Adam Reynolds, Chaz Harris, and Jaimee Poipoi. Photo: Maiden Voyage Kickstarter.

Q&A: Mer Young on Making Art to Respect Those Who Came Before Us

“Open your eyes to a world beyond your own" – Mer Young

Mer Young is a California-based artist of mixed descent who is best known for her colorful collages including folks of indigenous descent. Our conversation with her was spurred from a mutual desire to remember our past and use it as guidance for the future.

Young currently has some pieces on exhibition at Kaleidoscope Kollective in Echo Park, LA, and ChimMaya Gallery in East LA.

Do peep her Instagram and online store.


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Young in her element. Photo: Courtesy of Mer Young


New Sincerity: Tell me a little who you are and where you’re from?

Mer Young: I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend; I come from generations of fighters for change and makers. I come from the womb of my mother and walk amongst the earth with the guidance of my ancestors.

NS: Talk about your work as an artist – what or who inspires you? What messages are you trying to tell?

MY: I am only a vessel – the work I do is for the eyes and mind of and for people to interpret. Everything that is and was, the planet, the moon, the stars, soil, water, insects, animals, people, all inspire me. The message is to acknowledge and elevate those who have come before us.

NS: I notice a lot of your work involves indigenous, women, and children, combined with mixed media images of cosmic scapes and florals. These images are very haunting (in a good way). Can you speak to why you chose these themes, especially in how they work together?

MY: I centralize the image to pay homage, to bring about the importance and celebration of indigenous cultures, of women and women with children. The arrangements work together because these cosmic scapes and florals, as in nature, are already amongst us. I am just interpreting, what I experience, that is already in nature through my own lens. These elements bring about life and we need to remember our position as humans on this turning plant and respect it.

MY: Pick a favorite piece and give me a little backstory on it.

MY: Each piece is special, with a different story. To pick is like choosing a single flower in a flower field, but if I were to choose it would be the Wishham piece. The image is a replica, I found, by photographer Edward S. Curtis circa 1910 photo entitled Wishham Young Woman. I painted the background with gold acrylic paint to symbolize enlightenment and to mock the illumination of the sun, with light brings life. Aloe Vera has healing properties and is symbolic to enduring life, as does the cactus flowers. But the cactus flower also symbolizes warmth, protection, maternal love because of its endurance and ability to thrive in harsh conditions.

Mer Young artist

NS: Tell us about how you use your ancestors as guidance. And, how can our country be more mindful of our ancestors and the people who came before us?

MY: My ancestors as guidance: I listen, I abide, I learn, I counsel with, I take heed, I respect, and I call upon them. I believe, as a whole, that we need to teach our children of true past events, pass on understanding, and instruct them of how to be sensible and sensitive. It means to instill wisdom in them that has been bestowed upon us when we were young.

NS: When you’re not making art, what are you doing?

MY: Caring, loving, learning, sipping on earl gray tea and star gazing.

NS: What about the future excites you?

MY: The possibility of change for unity and peace.

NS: Advice on how to make social progress?

MY: Be selfless.

Rise Up

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