Love is in the Hair, by artist/ activist/ educator Syrus Marcus Ware, is a charming little children’s book. Released through Flamingo Rampant in 2015, it tells the story of a young girl, Carter, who can’t sleep due to excitement for her new sibling’s arrival, who asks her uncles for a bedtime story.
Flamingo Rampant’s goal is to provide audiences with children’s literature that normalizes queer lives, queer relationships, marginalized lives, and marginalized relationships. The micropress, founded by S. Bear Bergman, is in its fifth year of operations, with Love is in the Hair being a release from their first year up and running.
“What is your favourite memory? What do you use to remember it by?” asks Uncle Marcus towards the end of the book. The uncles’ method of storytelling and recounting memory is done through hair—specifically, through Jeff’s hair which, according to Carter, is “full of beads, fabric, shells and jewels, memories and stories and magic.” Jeff tells the story of Carter’s birth through one bead, and tells the story of “the day [he and Marcus] decided to be each other’s family” with another. There is genuine warmth and affection between the three characters, and the love that they express for one another is a wonderful, healthy exemplification of a queer family dynamic.
Black hair has always had roots in storytelling, and has had the ability to convey marital status, class, age, and history. The importance and history behind black hair was excellently exemplified at a special exhibit at The ArQuives in January titled Parting the Roots, put on by Simone Wright. In the exhibit, Wright examined how black hair has been hidden, shamed, celebrated, and appropriated over the years. In Ware’s book, Jeff’s hair becomes its own archive of moments and memories that are special to him, which he records through beads, cuffs, and shells.
Ware’s book, at 28 pages and displaying beautiful, vibrant artwork, nonchalantly addresses the intersections of identity and how they play out within this fictional family, and he’s created a cute, heartwarming bedtime story for any audience with it.
S. Bear Bergman created Flamingo Rampant in response to not only the minimal queer representation in children’s books, but on the emphasis on overcoming bullying in those books that did exist. The ArQuives holds a modest collection of queer positive children’s books, among them: Are you a Boy or a Girl?, Mom and Mum are Getting Married, Zack’s Story: Growing up with Same-sex Parents, Ulysse et Alice, How Would you feel if your Dad was Gay?, Amy asks a Question: Grandma, What’s a Lesbian?, and Moondragon in the Mosque Garden. Flamingo Rampant will be releasing a new series of books in 2019, which we hope to be able to add to our collection!