Sewing the Rainbow

Written By: Gayle E. Pitman

Illustrated by: Holly Clifton-Brown

For Ages: 5 and up (mention of military and illustrations of guns)

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ History, Pacifism, Pride Flag, Historical Figure.

Summary: This story tells the life of Gilbert Baker, the man who sewed the first rainbow Pride flag for the LGBTQ community. For #sweetsandoscialjustice this week I tried my hand at something Lee and I had at our wedding instead of a cake-friend Portuguese Malasadas! Unfortunately, we didn’t have some of the ingredients at home and with the pandemic seeing a steep uptick, I decided to fry some pizza dough from the freezer and toss them in maple sugar. They were incredibly delicious and ridiculously easy!

While Gilbert was growing up, he didn’t care for the stereotypical “boy” activities and instead enjoyed drawing and spending time with his grandmother, who was a seamstress. His father was not supportive in the least, and destroyed his artwork and supplies. Gilbert was miserable. When Gilbert was 18, he was drafted into the army and continued to be miserable. After refusing to shoot a gun, he was transferred to San Francisco and was a medic. This turned out to be the most serendipitous transfer of Gilbert’s life. Once there, Gilbert found the colorful world that he always wanted to immerse himself in. He began to sew clothing and protest banners, and caught the attention of Harvey Milk, who asked him to make the first Pride flag!

This book is wonderful for understanding LGBTQ history and the importance of embracing who a child is, whatever they choose for hobbies or methods of self-expression. Gilbert and his father had a fraught for relationship, because of how Gilbert expressed himself. There is an extensive note in the back giving more LGBTQ historical context and background on Gilbert.

I planned to use the recipe found here, since it would have been my first time making them at home!

Gayle E. Pitman

Gayle E. Pitman, PHD teaches Psychology and Women/Gender Studies by day at Sacramento City College. By night, she writes children’s books and engages in other forms of subversive creativity. Her debut picture book, This Day in June, won the 2015 ALA Stonewall Award, was a Rainbow List Top Ten pick, and won the IRA’s 2014 Notable Books for a Global Society Award. How’s that for her first shot at writing children’s books! Her books, teaching, and general commentary have been featured in publications ranging from School Library Journal to The Advocate. She has also been interviewed on National Public Radio, the BBC News, “Good Day Sacramento,” and various podcasts.

Holly Clifton-Brown

Holly Clifton-Brown’s home base is London, England. She earned her degree in illustration from the University of the West of England. Recently, Holly traveled through Ladkah and North Spain with her husband, furthering her yoga practice and love of surfing. Holly likes walks with her dog, Olive, growing vegetables, and picture books.

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