George M. Johnson’s bestselling memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue is being adapted for television.
Gabrielle Union’s I’ll Have Another Productions has optioned television rights to the memoir under a first-look deal with Sony Pictures TV.
In his book, published April 28 by Macmillan, journalist and LGBTQ+ activist Johnson explores his childhood and adolescence growing up in Plainfield, NJ as well as his college years attending an HBCU in Virginia. From memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five to his loving relationship with his grandmother whom he affectionately called “Nanny,” to his first sexual experience, the young adult memoir showcases the life of growing up under the duality of being black and queer. The stories wrestle with triumph and tragedy and cover heavy topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent and Black joy.
The title of the memoir is a play on gender reveals and the heteronormative association of the color blue for boys and pink for girls. It is also a nod to Johnson’s dad who was a cop and growing up in a “blue” household, beliefs surrounding queerness and blackness weren’t necessarily in line with one another. Blue also signifies a nod to the Oscar-winning film Moonlight which was extremely influential to Johnson’s personal life. He wanted to acknowledge the beauty of black boys looking blue in the moonlight.
“I wrote this memoir and shared these stories because of the importance and need to center black stories from the black perspective,” Johnson says. “I didn’t have stories like these growing up and honestly I don’t have many now so I knew I needed to do my part to make sure the next generation of black queer children had something they could relate to and connect with. There are days I look at TV and film and still don’t see myself represented. So, my ultimate goal was providing the story I didn’t have but always needed and to be the vessel so that so many can feel seen and heard.
Getting to work on this adaptation alongside LGBTQ+ ally and activist Gabrielle Union and her production company makes me incredibly excited, Johnson continued. “She’s someone who is not only a champion in the fight for supporting marginalized communities of color but the work she’s doing as a storyteller and producer is lifting every voice who hasn’t had the opportunity to be heard.”
The subject matter is personal to Union, who is a parent to a queer identifying daughter.
“Queer black existence has been here forever yet rarely has that experience been shown in literature or film and television,” Union said. “Being a parent to a queer identifying daughter has given me the platform to make sure that these stories are being told in a truthful and authentic way and George’s memoir gives you the blueprint for that and more. What I love about this book is that it not only offers a space for queer kids of color to be seen and heard but it also offers those who see themselves outside of that standpoint to be held accountable and help them better understand what it takes to truly have acceptance with someone who is considered other.”
Union’s I’ll Have Another is currently in development on several series set at HBO Max, Apple and Quibi, among others. Union recently wrapped production on season 2 of Spectrum’s hit series LA’s Finest.
The book deal was made by The Gotham Group. Johnson is repped by Eric Smith at P.S. Literary and attorney Anita Surendran of Granderson Des Rochers, LLP. Union is repped by CAA, Atlas Artists and attorney Patti Felker.
We love everything about this and can’t wait to see the series take shape. Congrats, George!
If you haven’t, pick up a copy of All Boys Aren’t Blue on Amazon.