Freelance writer Lerone Landis usually writes about film, politics, pop culture and anything LGBT related. Now, Lerone has taken his critic hat off and put the cap of artist on with his first ever published book, the children’s book Gabrielle’s Gift. The Texas native holds a B.A in Radio, TV and Film broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas, loves to read, watch football, film, news junkie, cook, spending time with his family and friends, big animal lover, traveling and playing whatever part he can in making a difference for the betterment of the LGBT community. Most importantly, he absolutely relish’s in being a father. Lerone lives with his husband, Danny, whom he married in Vancouver, Canada and their daughter Gabrielle. Most recently, Gabrielle’s Gift won second place for the Purple Dragon Book awards (http://www.fivestarpublications.com/bookcontest/book-award-winners.html#2015pdbawin).
What motivated you to write books that specifically include LGBTQ families/issues?
There were several things that motivated my writing this book. First and foremost the biggest motivator was my daughter, it was a gift for her. I thought it was important for my daughter to see families similar to her own – whether that’s in real life settings or in a cartoon, a tv show, a movie or in books during those early formative years. While there are a number of great children’s books that feature LGBT families, I still didn’t see many (maybe one or two) with multi-racial and/or children who have same sex parents that are opposite of their own gender. Knowing that there are plenty of those families that exist, my hope was that perhaps those families would also appreciate seeing characters similar to theirs in a story book.
I also wanted to present a story in which a child’s having same sex parents was incidental to the bigger picture, a fun snapshot of a single day of our very varied life – just like anybody else’s family! Subsequently, any and all kids could relate to the story and get exposed to a diverse family without pontificating.
What do you personally feel makes a family?
I’ve always said that blood makes relatives, not necessarily a family. To say that love makes a family sounds warm and fuzzy and to a large extent is true. Yet there are other crucial pieces of the puzzle that make up a genuine family. Regardless of the structure – one mom, 2 dads, grandparents, a couple with no kids, etc., what matters is do these people not only love you but are they also committed in being a part of your life? Are they involved? Do they support you in great times and challenging times? Do they not only accept you for who are, totally embrace who you are? If you can say yes to those, then you have what I call, a family!
When everyone plays by and is bound by the exact same rules under the law, is what equality looks like. When the playing field has been leveled so that everyone has the same starting point, same opportunities and can therefore be free to exercise the same choices is what equality looks like. I sincerely feel that equality looks like a beautiful pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Hopefully one day will all be able to see it.
Whose books do you admire and why?
One of my most favorite books to read with my daughter has to be the children’s book I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll. It’s funny, just a tad bit scary with amazing illustrations that any kid can relate to it and it brings back the kid in adults. One of my other favorite books was given to me as a baby shower gift from a dear friend – the children’s book And Tango Makes Three. I adore and admire this book despite the fact that it unfortunately has been banned in some countries and has been challenged nearly every year since it was published according to the American Library Association. This book essentially describes my family dynamic in the form of animals. Due to the books controversy it may shock many to find that the story line is one of the most innocuous story lines ever. This is wonderful book for all and a great way to enlighten to young kids (and even some adults) on how some families came to be. And the best thing about the book is that is based on an absolute true story.
What’s coming up next for you?
If you’d asked me prior to my daughters’ birth if I ever plan on writing and publishing a children’s book I would’ve laughed answering with a resounding NO. So, for now all I can say is that I will continue exercise my creativity through writing in some form or fashion. I can’t promise another children’s book is coming and can’t promise that it will not.