Authors Kevin and Basil Sylvester, Ryka Aoki and SJ Sindu

And other recommendations for what’s up and what’s on, beginning Oct. 21

A fine harvest morning to you, my pumpkins and cranberries and pies and tarts (especially the tarts), and welcome to another edition of “Queer Culture Catch-Up,” where we reap what our fellow homos have sown and revel in the abundance with which we are presented, while also being thoughtful about resource-sharing. I’m your wildcrafted host, S. Bear Bergman, out picking and packing and grading the crop to bring you only the best in queer and trans artistic and cultural work for your precious pieholes.

Tease Me 2Spirit Indigiqueer BIPOC Cabaret

Presented by our wonderful friends at the Indigenous Curatorial Collective and with 10 (!) performers to kick off the 2021 ICCA Digital Gathering, this collection of obviously tremendous performers includes Mx. Bukuru, Keenan Simik Komaksiutiksak and more! Reveals are ongoing over at the ICCA Instagram but here’s the first teaser trailer to enjoy. The Indigenous Curatorial Collective works across so-called Canada to connect, support and present Indigenous artists and artworks. Everything I have ever seen presented by them has been thoughtful and dynamic. The Tease Me cabaret is the first in weeks of digital programming, and happens Friday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m. EST. You can register for the cabaret and all of their 2021 Solidarity Across Space events right here!

The Fabulous Zed Watson (and more!) at Toronto International Festival of Authors

The Toronto International Festival of Authors (running Oct. 21 to 31) regularly presents a slate of amazing queer work, and this year is no exception. In addition to events with queer geniuses like Nalo Hopkinson, Zoe Whittall, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Syrus Marcus Ware, as well as the FLUP Poetry Slam featuring LGBTQ2S+ poets in Portugese (and me!), they are presenting the brilliant middle-grade novel The Fabulous Adventures of Zed Watson and its authors, parent-child duo Kevin and Basil Sylvester. The book features a non-binary main character who goes on a roadtrip adventure with their best friend and their older sister as they follow a range of exciting clues in search of a lost book. Zed Watson is one of the first and only books that portrayed a non-binary kid character in a way that made my own, internal non-binary 11-year-old self feel happy and excited, and on the strength of combined enjoyment I commend it to your attention.

 

For the Boys

Credit: Courtesy of SLAY.TV

I am late to this one, for which I apologize and take full responsibility. At least I have set you up for a brilliant binge situation. SLAY.TV, amplifiers of the voices and culture of queer and trans people of colour (and decidedly NOT Netflix, ugh), have been making the web series For the Boys since March, and it’s so good. The whole first season is now on YouTube, along with music videos, comedy and older web series (including No Shade in which, despite wonky production value, the creativity still shines bright). For the Boys follows Brooklyn friends Jamal, Anthony and Syed through their dating trials and triumphs, engagements with a hostile world, cut-ups and outfits. The show’s story arcs are smart, well-written and clearly created with a Black queer audience at the forefront thanks to co-creators Mehkai Lee and Ellis C. Dawson, both experienced Broadway and national tour actors. 

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Credit: Courtesy of macmillan.com

Ryka Aoki’s recent novel Light From Uncommon Stars debuted a few months ago but I have been saving it to savour before presenting it here—and oh my holy happy donuts, am I glad I did because now I can shower it with praise. I love Aoki as a writer, poet and person but this book is so unrepentantly joyful and just weird enough that it is perhaps her best writing yet. The story follows a runaway trans girl violinist, a family of aliens, a reaper of souls… and I really can’t give you many more details because the twists and turns are so delicious, I want you to enjoy it yourselves. 

Blue-Skinned Gods by SJ Sindu

Credit: Courtesy of penguinrandomhouse.com

Speaking of amazing books with many twists and turns, let me also recommend Blue-Skinned Gods by SJ Sindu, a writer I was introduced to for a different assignment and who absolutely blew me away. Her latest is a wild book about a boy who is worshipped as a living god for his entire life, and who, at a certain point, begins to doubt his own divinity. It’s such a tangled and complex book, full of binaries broken and relationships woven and everything I love and value in queer work (including how the queerness of the book blooms slowly, slowly). Blue-Skinned Gods comes out Nov. 4, so there’s still time to pre-order—and you should.

Noodle, the oracle of TikTok

https://www.tiktok.com/@jongraz/video/7019298458678856965?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc&web_id6937681783694493189

In case you haven’t heard, the new astrology is a 13-year-old pug named Noodle who lets us know what kind of a day we’ll have when he rises (or declines to rise) in the morning. Noodle is the owner of a very nice gay named Jonathan Graziano, and has spawned an internet sensation. Since queers have always led the way in astrology, tarot and other forms of divination, it seems only appropriate that Noodle was entrusted by the universe to Graziano, an able (and adorable) steward. The creativity that surrounds Noodle’s predictions is a whole situation unto itself, so hop over to his TikTok account for some help understanding what kind of a day it’s going to be. 


Well, my loves, that ought to be enough to keep your eyes and ears (and bones) alert to the possibility of joy for today. Until we meet again, may you have dry socks and/or martinis, and may your cakes rise and your crusts come together. As always, if you’re making something new and queer, email info@xtramagazine.com or DM me on Twitter with your news—I love to hear from you.

S Bear Bergman

S. Bear Bergman is a writer, educator and advice columnist. His ninth book, Special Topics In Being A Human, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in the fall of 2021.

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