A Peacock Among Pigeons is Tyler Curry’s first entry into the children’s book genre.
And his first effort is for any child who feels different. Gay kids will certainly relate to flamboyant Peter the Peacock, but any child who doesn’t look like or act like the rest of the crowd should love these lovely birds, too.
The story isn’t The Ugly Duckling who grows up to become a beautiful swan. Each of the birds in Curry’s world start with something special about them — Owen the Owl is smart and sophisticated, and Penny the Parrot is nice and loves to talk, while Craig the Cardinal is sassy and bold.
Curry simply wants to celebrate what’s special about each child and for every child to understand there’s something special about them. In recognizing those special traits in other children, they’ll accept what’s special about themselves.
“Everyone is Peter at one time,” Curry said.
While he describes Peter as flashy and flamboyant, he never calls him gay. However, gay kids will surely see themselves in him.
Curry said he read the book to a class of fifth graders and many of them saw themselves in Peter — they were too tall, too short, different races. But each was a peacock in some way. So while Peter’s obviously gay, he’s only obviously gay to a gay kid.
“I switched school twice because the teasing was so bad,” Curry said, describing his own childhood.
While other kids he knew in his school were gay, he said, they found their safe place in band or choir.
“I was an athlete,” he said. “And I was target No. 1.”
He said he really wanted to dance, but he was taught boys don’t do that in Texas. And even though he was on the soccer team, he said, other children always made fun of him.
“Older classmates would stop me and ask me if I was a boy or a girl,” he said. “I was terrified of my own shadow.”
So while Curry said he wrote the book for his second grade self, he didn’t realize he was fabulous Peter the Peacock until he was an adult. It’s a message he’d like children to get at a much younger age.
Because the book doesn’t mention gay, his publisher didn’t want him to classify the book as LGBT.
“I’ve been consuming books that were not meant for me,” Curry said, and insisted on the LGBT label.
Curry said he doesn’t live in a closet and does, in fact, mention being gay in the page of acknowledgements where he thanks his boyfriend.
While Curry hopes any child who’s been bullied for any reason will see himself as a beautiful peacock with something special to share, he’s passionate about telling LGBT kids who are being picked on like he was that they’re great, and he hopes to get this book gets into their hands.
The book is beautifully illustrated by Clarione Gutierrez.
Curry is the editor of HIV Equal Online, writes for The Advocate and has written for Dallas Voice. He said he has at least two more children’s books in the works as well as a book for young adults. He is researching that book now and called it a young adult coming of age story with a gay character.
“Less about coming out,” he said, “and more about being out.”
The official publication date for Peacock is Nov. 3, but is already going into its second printing.
A Peacock Among Pigeons is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble or may be ordered at ApeacockAmongPigeons.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 30, 2015.