ST. GEORGE — A St. George author and an illustrator have launched a Kickstarter campaign to promote their new book, “Out, Not In!” The book is a two-years-in-the-making project to spread love and offer a helping hand to LGBTQ youth and their families.
“Out, Not In!” is a collection of notes, thoughts and insights from the mind of author Josh Pedersen. He told St. George News that it became clear that he needed to write a book after receiving hundreds of calls and messages from friends and parents of friends who were struggling with the coming out process.
“I wanted to make it for literally everyone, and that is hard,” Pedersen said. “I wanted everyone that read it to feel like it’s for them. There’s still a pretty big deficit in literature for LGBTQ people, there’s not a lot of it, especially for all ages.”
To help him create the perfect book for all ages and genders, Pedersen enlisted the help of his former student Faith Henke, who took one of his design classes at Dixie State University. As a student, Henke’s skills blew Pedersen away, he said, and she was an obvious choice for a partner.
“I own a company called Artsy Affirmations and a lot of the work that I create there is geared toward kindness and showing love, so it was a no-brainer when Josh approached me about illustrating ‘Out, Not In!’, a book literally geared toward garnering more empathy,” Henke told St. George News in an email. “It’s such a personal project for Josh, so it was flattering to be asked to work on it and help bring it to life.”
Creating the book was no easy feat, and not only because of the time commitment. From the beginning, Pedersen knew that he didn’t want any creatures, humans or animals in the illustrations. The tone of the book is anonymous and gender-neutral, so anyone could be telling the story, Pedersen said.
Although the book will not be printed and released until October, people can celebrate Pride Month now by pledging to support it. The book is meant for the entire LGBTQ community, including allies, and Henke said that she hopes it will help allies and parents show empathy toward their loved ones.
Pedersen hoped to create a book worthy of any coffee table, library or classroom, he said. He also hopes to donate as many copies as possible to libraries, schools and centers for LGBTQ youth like Encircle. On Wednesday, he presented the book to a group of young people at Encircle’s St. George location, and he hopes to do more presentations and readings for schools, youth groups and over YouTube.
“I plan on doing it a lot more in the future,” he said. “If we have a hard copy, I can donate. Here’s a box of a hundred books, to each home, and then kids can have them.”
Pedersen and Henke chose a printer in Salt Lake City to print the book and launched the Kickstarter campaign to raise the money they need. If the campaign doesn’t reach its goal by July 7, all of the money will be returned to the donors and the book will not be published. Anyone can support or donate to the project, with the option of donating a certain amount to receive a copy of the book, a sticker, an enamel pin or a swag bundle.
“You actually get a book and then we are able to donate two books to libraries and public schools,” Pedersen said. “We’re starting with Utah first, and then if we get bigger, then any extra money we make will go to another run of the book and we will again donate to libraries and public schools.”
If the Kickstarter campaign reaches its goal, up to 12,000 copies of the book will be printed. Donors can donate $5 and receive a vinyl sticker, donate $15 and receive a pin, donate $25 for a copy of the book or $100 for two copies, a sticker and a pin. People can also donate any amount they wish and receiving books or items is not required.
“With June being Pride month, I think it’s especially important to let people in your life know that you are a safe place and that you’re going to love them, regardless of how they identify,” Henke said. “‘Out, Not In!’ is a great place to start for both people in and out of the LGBTQ community who want to show and feel more empathy toward everyone in their lives.”
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