Guest post by Kamden Edwards, author of The One & Only Dylan St. Claire
Here he is boys! Here he is world! Meet The One & Only Dylan St. Claire! I felt the need to create Dylan because I grew up being unable to relate to any of the boys I saw on TV or in books. I would tie my baseball uniform up into a sports bra and sing Mariah Carey’s ‘Butterfly’ in hopes of luring one to my glove — but the boys on TV just hit the ball and ran. When I was 13 I begged my mom to let me sponge paint ‘DREAM’ in clouds on my bedroom wall — but the boys in my books left their clothes on the floor and toys in a pile.
Eventually this lack of representation paired with every kid’s desire to “fit in” led me to dial down my differences instead of celebrating them. Lucky for this next generation, being ashamed of your differences is SO 1994. Coming out of a time where boys were raised to catch a ball and choke back their emotions, Dylan St. Claire is the Kick-Ball-Change the future desperately needs!
Much like Beyonce has Sasha Fierce and Mariah Carey has MiMi; Dylan St. Claire is the unafraid, over the top, excitable, sensitive, confident, proud kid I wish I had the courage to be! Dylan does a Traveling Time-Step along the line society uses to define ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ behavior without a hint of insecurity or the faintest need of approval. Exploring the world through the lens of a child like Dylan brings a fresh new perspective that Children’s Entertainment currently lacks. Dylan will bring a detoxifying mud mask and humidifier on a camping trip, but also beat anyone in the timed mile. He allows himself to openly cry and express his emotions, but will also be the only boy to make it through a slasher film without closing his eyes. Dylan St. Claire gives a voice to a group of boys not yet represented authentically in Family Programming and embodies a healthy approach to a future artistic, non-violent and FABULOUS generation.
Creating this character was an absolute treat! I was able to go back and give myself the voice I wish I had as a kid with frosted tips and puka shells. I’m sure most gay men my age would share my frustration - or ‘Velvet Rage’ - with all the time wasted pretending to be someone we’re not. When I think of where I’d be today if I grew up without the shame and fear of being gay… I immediately need a dirty martini and a long hot bath. But the shift for children has already begun, YouTube is full of young superstars broadcasting from their bedrooms doing things I only dared to do behind a locked door.
Lip Syncs, Make Up Tutorials, Fashion Reviews! It’s beautiful to see what a child can do when they’re raised surrounded by support not stereotypes. I have big plans for Dylan’s future! His authenticity and wit make him entertaining for kids of all backgrounds and interests. I’ve made sure that this is not just a “book for gay boys”. This is a laugh out loud book about a live out loud boy that teaches kids to break down boundaries and color outside of the lines. My biggest hope for this book is that it gives kids everywhere the inspiration and permission to be 100% themselves and live their most FABULOUS life.
*The One & Only Dylan St. Claire is published by Doubleday Books - Penguin Random House and is available both online and in bookstores. If you have the chance, please support your local bookshops.