Joanna McClintick is a children's book author and social worker at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center in Manhattan. Photo: Joanna McClintick

Together we are strong, is the unifying message of Joanna McClintick’s debut children’s book Twas the Night Before Pride,” based on a poem McClintick wrote when they were still hoping to start their own family.

As they prepared to become a parent, they found it increasingly problematic that most of the children’s books they encountered, mostly only mentioned he/him pronouns and the characters were mostly only animals in the portrayal of family dynamics.

“There are a lot of books that highlight LGBTQ+ characters and those books are great, but I felt like there weren’t any books that talked about the history of LGBTQ+ resistance and that it’s not just a celebration on the street,” said McClintick.

McClintick’s book does what many others don’t. It brings up heavy subjects to children such as AIDS marches and the Stonewall riots in a way that prepares them for the type of negative rhetoric they will encounter as they grow up as part of a nontraditional family or begin to identify as queer or trans. 

McClintick created this book during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and says they believe this was their way of creating justice. They believe that children need to see and read about more valid representation that is not just presented in a covert way by using animals. McClintick and Juana Medina, the book’s illustrator, purposely decided to use illustrations of human people in the book to portray a more realistic take on these subjects. 

“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ was just a clear, short summary of what’s going to happen,” said McClintick. So, they decided to create their book with the same rhyme. ‘Twas the Night Before Pride’ was written as a historical and joyful homage to a day dedicated to diversity, love, community and queer resistance. A day McClintick refers to as the gay national holiday. 

Joanna McClintick and Juana Medina tell the story of a queer family heading out to spend the day at Pride. Photo: Joanna McClintick

McClintick lives in Brooklyn with their family and works as a social worker at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center in Manhattan. Their work inspired them to learn the history of organizing in New York City and how much of pride started off as a protest in support of the AIDS crisis.

“When I was young, I didn’t know anything about that. I didn’t have any access to any of those [resources],” said McClintick. “I didn’t really read queer books or see any queer TV shows.”

McClintick didn’t get to experience Pride until they were in college. “It was so totally mind blowing. It was just so groundbreaking to my sense of visibility,” said McClintick. 

They hope to take on more opportunities and collaborate with other LGBTQ+ creatives to further their storytelling and validate LGBTQ+ youth. 

This story is made possible with support from Comcast Corporation.