New Book From Author of “All Boys Aren't Blue ”Hopes to Give LGBTQ+ Youth 'A Roadmap I Didn't Have' (Exclusive)

Get a peek inside George M. Johnson's newest illustrated nonfiction, 'Flamboyants: the Queer Harlem Renaissance I Wish I'd Known,' just in time for Pride month

<p>Vincent Marc; Macmillan Children

Vincent Marc; Macmillan Children's Publishing Group

'Flamboyant' by George M. Johnson

George M. Johnson, author of the young adult memoir-manifesto All Boys Aren't Blue, has a new book coming out that they hope gives young people "a roadmap that I didn't have."

Their new book, Flamboyants: the Queer Harlem Renaissance I Wish I'd Known comes out in September from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. In a series of essays and poetry accompanied by art from award-winning illustrator Charly Palmer, the book celebrates the iconic queer Black writers, performers and activists from the 1920s who have shaped Black American history.

<p>Charly Palmer</p> The cover of 'Flamboyant' illustrated by Charly Palmer

Charly Palmer

The cover of 'Flamboyant' illustrated by Charly Palmer

Johnson, whose first book is one of the most-banned books in the country, was partly inspired to write this one by feedback from young readers. "When it came to me telling my story, and seeing how so many people felt seen or heard for the first time in a book, it was a bittersweet moment, because I'm like well, books have been around for centuries, and so when when people are still saying, 'This is my first time feeling like a book reaches me,' that's a lot to swallow," they explain.

Related: Essential Reading for Pride: PEOPLE Picks Our Favorite LGBTQ+ Books For Adults

<p>Charly Palmer</p> Ethel Waters in 'Flamboyants'

Charly Palmer

Ethel Waters in 'Flamboyants'

"But the other thing that it indicated to me was that we have the stories of people from the past, who were also queer, and who were also complicated and nuanced, and went through a lot of things," Johnson continues. "And I was realizing that when I was taught about those people, they always left that part out."

<p>Charly Palmer</p> Josephine Baker in 'Flamboyants'

Charly Palmer

Josephine Baker in 'Flamboyants'

The author wanted to show young readers — especially those who might have been told they're too loud, too flamboyant or that their passion for art isn't a worthwhile career path — that there are people who came before them and had some of those same struggles.

<p>Charly Palmer</p> Ma Rainey in 'Flamboyants'

Charly Palmer

Ma Rainey in 'Flamboyants'

"In many ways, my heroes in many ways were stolen from me because I didn't get to learn about them when I was 10, and know that oh, there was someone a hundred years ago who felt the same way I felt, or that I connect to or latch onto," the author explains. "This is for young adults who deserve to understand who these people were and get to explore worlds that they didn't know existed."

Related: PEOPLE’s Picks for the Best LGBTQ+ Kids Books for Pride Month

<p>Charly Palmer</p> Gladys Bentley in 'Flamboyants'

Charly Palmer

Gladys Bentley in 'Flamboyants'

The author hopes that when young readers pick up the book, which features greats like Langston Hughes, Josephine Baker, Zora Neale Hurston and Ma Rainey, they'll be inspired to do further research on their own. He also imagines that, much like the cover art for his first book, people will recreate some of Palmer's colorful imagery in their own way.

"Putting my words to Charley's images, because the images in that book are just as important as the book itself in many ways...that's when the magic started," they say. And the feeling from the award-winning illustrator is mutual.

<p>Charly Palmer</p> Langston Hughes in 'Flamboyants'

Charly Palmer

Langston Hughes in 'Flamboyants'

"George is confidence. George is beauty and I’m truly inspired by their words and by their presence," Palmer said in a statement. "The people that George wrote about were my heroes too and so it was a no-brainer to be a part of this; I’m honored."

But most of all, Johnson wants Flamboyants to forge a path for kids who don't have one or can't see it from where they're standing.

<p>Charly Palmer</p> Jimmie Daniels in 'Flamboyants'

Charly Palmer

Jimmie Daniels in 'Flamboyants'

"There were people before you who were just like you, and had many of those same issues and struggles and crises," they say. "And they paved the way for you so that you wouldn't have to go through those many same things."

Flamboyants: The Queer Harlem Renaissance I Wish I'd Known comes out September 24 and is available for preorder now, wherever books are sold.

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