2023 Stonewall Book Award Speeches


In 2023, the American Library Association (ALA) awarded Love, Violet the Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s Literature Award. This was the honor of a lifetime! And it means many more children will enjoy Love, Violet — in spite of all the soft censorship and book bans.

Illustrator Charlene Chua and I share our acceptance speeches (slightly edited) in this video, including Charlene’s powerful comics and my voice recording (full text below). You can also watch it here on YouTube, with subtitles.

Illustrator Charlene Chua, Asian with brown skin and black bob tucked in a cap, smiling and wearing a mask and glasses, holds an award plaque with FSG editor Trisha de Guzman, brown skin, big smile, glasses and black bob and a lavender floral dress - in a conference room

Illustrator Charlene Chua and FSG editor Trisha de Guzman hold the 2023 Stonewall Book Award Plaque for LOVE, VIOLET at ALA 2023


Two ALA librarians from the Rainbow Roundtable - Stonewall Book Award Committee - holding copies of LOVE, VIOLET.Both are smiling, with peach skin and glasses and brown hair, one long the other pulled back.

Two ALA librarians from the Rainbow Roundtable – Stonewall Book Award Committee – holding copies of LOVE, VIOLET


LOVE, VIOLET bling! Librarian proudly wears tiny LOVE, VIOLET ear rings to ALA 2023! Close up of woman's ear, with many piercings and one dangling earring that looks like a copy of the book.

LOVE, VIOLET bling! Librarian proudly wears tiny LOVE, VIOLET ear rings to ALA 2023!


Charlotte Sullivan Wild’s 2023 Stonewall Acceptance Speech for Love, Violet (unedited):


I’m thrilled to be celebrating rainbow books with you! Like many of us, I grew up unable to even talk about queerness. And now, look at all these books! Thank you for honoring Love, Violet!

Warmest thanks to the ALA, Rainbow Round Table, and the Stonewall Award Committee. And especially to Mike Morgan and Larry Romans, and our queer elders, who have opened the way for us.

I’m indebted to my dear, patient writing friends, my faithful agent Minju Chang, who has believed in Love, Violet since 2013 – even when publishers kept telling us – sometimes directly, sometimes in code – that they couldn’t sell stories about queer kids. But editor Trisha de Guzman at Farrar, Straus & Giroux BYR joyfully changed that! Thanks to our amazing MacKids team: Aram Kim, Joy Peskin, life-saver Molly Ellis, Sara Elroubi, and so many others.

Two women smiling up at us with conference badges on, Minju Chang with long, straight black hair and olive skin, Charlotte with wavy honey hair, glasses

Minju and Charlotte at the 2016 Children’s Literature Conference hosted by The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

 And to Charlene Chua, painter of dreams, your luminous, heart-filled images gave this story life!

Illustrator Charlene Chua holds up a watercolor painting of two girls running through snowy woods with a sunset sky. (In this early version of the paintings, Violet's red hair is long and flowing - in the book it's short). Charlene, sitting in her home studio, has short, asymmetrical, black hair and glasses; their hand is held up to the painting as they talk.

Charlene Chua discussing an early test watercolor from LOVE, VIOLET in her home studio (from video: MAKING LOVE, VIOLET)

Deepest thanks to my family who have always supported my storytelling (sometimes embarrassingly so!) and who did the work to become allies even when it wasn’t easy.

Last, Love, Violet would not exist without my gal in cowgirl boots: Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition, love! (That was our code for “I love you” before we could be out. I think the cat’s out of the bag now!)

Author Charlotte Sullivan Wild, with long, wavy blonde hair and a blue cap and draping woodsy blue scarf kisses the side of her wife's face. Her wife has a big grin, with raised eyebrows. Her hair is short medium brown. She's in a black sweater

Kissing my favorite cowgirl



It’s impossible to sum up how personal Love, Violet is. Stories and histories are always personal. So is the harm of false myths used to demonize. Growing up in a family of Evangelical pastors and missionaries, my only words or images for queerness were the horror stories of male pedophiles pouring from our Christian radio station.

I longed to be good. Loved. Family. How could I be queer?

I couldn’t. So I tried not to be. I suppressed and repressed, until it was choking me. But then, in my 30s—not even divorce, not resigning a faculty position, or facing my Very Religious family could stop me.

I’d never felt more liberated. Joyful! Myself.


But unlike many kids today, when I saw the disgust disfigure my grandmother’s usually loving face, I was grown. Physically safe. Surrounded by other support.

Many kids are not.

So, I wrote Love, Violet directly to them. Around the politics and terms and slurs. I wanted to break the silence with a love story.

I wanted to give kids words for themselves like: MAGNIFICENT. DREAM. ADVENTURE.

Violet (white, short red hair, pants and hat) and Mira (dark skin and thick, curly black hair, more feminine clothes) - in a series of adventures Violet is imagining: Swinging together from a vine, sailing a pirate ship together, riding a horse togther, floating in space in space suits, Violet in a purple heroic cape and armor presenting treasure to Mira, who is in a royal golden dress

(c) Charlene Chua 2022, from Love, Violet. Violet dreams of adventures with Mira


And, the word for how we thrive—TOGETHER.

Mira and Violet run toward us, holding hands and arms outstretched in the snowy woods with golden sunset sky and kids and animals playing in the background. Mira has dark skin and thick curly black hair; Violet has short red hair and pants, boots and her signature white cowgirl hat. It's snowing!

(c) Charlene Chua 2022, from Love Violet. Mira and Violet run into the sunset – TOGETHER


I wrote the truest story I could about what young love feels like. That awe, being dazzled.

And I wove in the gender expressions of many I love and myself. Growing up, I hadn’t seen gender nonconforming gals portrayed as tender; or feminine ones as sporty or queer. Or queer people of color honored EVER. Yet there we were.

And now, here we ARE. With all these books.

Image of the 10 books that received 2023 Stonewall Book Awards and Honors

2023 Winners of the Stonewall Book Awards and Honors – Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Awards


With Charlene’s evocative, honoring images.

And a story about the most human thing we do: LOVE.


But not everyone wants to acknowledge our shared humanity.

Image of a news article title with a photo of LGBTQ+ children's and YA books standing up in a library

Not surprisingly, Love, Violet and several other rainbow picture books have been named in a lawsuit seeking to “protect” kids. Meanwhile, a trans teen has already left the same district because of death threats.

Protection? No, this is something else.


Unmaking our stories.


It’s strange. I used to be the kid carrying hand-written notes to school, asking to skip activities for religious reasons. I know this earnestness. It’s sincere.

But how can one be excused from our shared humanity?

What of the queer children in these families?

Their peers witnessing themselves described as dangerous monsters?

As I wrote in an essay for We Need Diverse Books,

Banner from We Need Diverse Books website and essay post title: "No More Ghosts! A (Queer) Picture Book Love Story" Background with brith colored shapes, image of the cover of the picture book LOVE, VIOLET and close author headshot of woman laughing, with wavy blond hair

 erasing or defacing any group’s humanity is a genocidal wish.

A task easily outsourced to the playground, school boards and legislators, parents and police, frightened folks with guns. And too often, the instruction to not exist hits home.

These stakes are so high.

That’s why we’re here.

Throwing everything we have into this work, especially for our kids of color, Native and trans kids.


And you know what? In that same Maryland community, members of the Rainbow Defense Coalition have organized to gather at drag story times and pride events. To actually protect kids. While hate groups scream at children, punch the air with fists, these neighbors pop open rainbow parasols, turn up the music LOUD. With their bodies and joy, they shield and surround these kids with safety and Love.

Diverse group of people including drag queens holding rainbow umbrellas

They say:

Soak up these stories, darlings. Drink in the pictures.

So, when the stones fly, you’ll already know who you are:

Beautiful. Precious. Family.


That’s what you do every day.

Open umbrellas of love.

Create safe havens for kids, for healthy escape, and discovery,

and maps of how to survive.



Thank you for sharing this mission, our books, your hearts.

Our kids need you. They need you. They need you.


Mira, with brown skin, rosy cheeks and thick curly dark hair, purple winter hat and coat, holds up a glittery scrap of a valentine to us, with a big smile, sunset colors behind her.

(c) Charlene Chua 2022, from Love, Violet



*Below is the condensed speech actually played at ALA, as there were many beautiful books to honor! (2:46)

All art used with permission.