Check out this joyous book for tweens, ‘This Is Our Rainbow’

And other recommendations for what’s up and what’s on, beginning Nov. 4

Hello and good day, my snugglebugs and cuddle sluts and cuffing season captains all, welcome to “Queer Culture Catch-Up!” I’ve dusted off my cardigan and broken out the cocoa to bring you this decidedly cozy collection of hand-picked, organic, local queer and trans cultural business. This time we’re focusing on the ways we connect, engage and understand each other, so let’s get into it!

Groundswell Festival at Nightwood Theatre

Teiya Kasahara is photographed leaning forward, grimacing.
Theatre artist Teiya Kasahara.

Credit: Courtesy of Teiya Kasahara

As part of their commitment to amplify emerging playwrights and marginalized voices through their Write from the Hip program, Toronto’s Nightwood Theatre is presenting a whole festival of readings from new works featuring some stellar LGBTQ2S+ content—and much of it streaming online. You definitely don’t want to miss it: the Groundswell lineup features many explicitly queer plays that look amazing, and the format really encourages exploration. I’m especially excited for several of the new works, including Messy: a Chaotic Black Femme Rage Musical written by Kitoko Mai and directed by perennial Toronto theatre standout Sedina Fiati. Fiati is also at the helm of Breton Lalama’s THE LAST SHOW ON EARTH!™ and holds the post of Nightwood’s first-ever Artist-Activist in Residence. Though I’ve never seen any of their work, I’m also pretty excited for 夜 YORU (or, WHEN THE NIGHT BECOMES ONE SOUND) by Teiya Kasahara (笠原貞野) based on the description: “collides at the intersection of binary gender expectations, and eastern and western cultures and musical forms.” Also: fave Bilal Baig (who is absolutely owning everything on CBC’s Sort Of right now) is in yet another exciting-looking gender-themed piece for Nightwood, SOWWY. So basically what I’m saying here is that these streaming daytime performances will keep your queer spirits up no matter how ennervating your work situation may be (at least from Nov. 10 to 17). You can register for free right here, so click now and enjoy the art, the politics, the gender-bending energy and the peerless satisfaction of saying, in several years: “Oh, yes, that’s wonderful. I saw it as a workshop.”

Planned Parenthood Toronto virtual drop-in programs


As the cooler weather rolls in and outdoor, physically-distant hangs become extended improvisations in modern dance, Planned Parenthood Toronto is hard at work trying to break the isolation with a selection of drop-in programs organized with younger people in mind. For 16- to 26-year-olds, check out a selection of programs, including Young Men and Masculine Youth Project for peer-led workshops on safer sex, relationships, masculinity and more on Fridays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m ET (email the facilitator for more information); NBD (Nonbinary BIPOC Drop-in) on alternating Mondays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET; and for even younger folks, The Black Youth Mental Health Initiative (BYMHI) is offering a series of virtual workshops for Black youth between ages 13 and 29 into December. All of the groups feature a range of conversation, guest speakers, skill sharing, artistic opportunities and more. A challenge many young people face with these programs is that they simply never hear about them, so your task for today is to let a young person know about these opportunities for peer support, leadership mentoring and a safe place to talk all about it. 

This Is Our Rainbow

 Mark Oshio is photographed holding a bouquet of flowers and a garland of flowers wrapped around his head.
Author Mark Oshio.

Credit: Zoraida Córdova

Also for that younger set: Instead of—or in addition to—a welcoming group, how about a welcoming book? This Is Our Rainbow, edited by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby, contains 16 stories of queer and trans joy for young readers (and includes a new comic by perennial household fave Molly Ostertag, and one of the most charming and unexpected coming out stories I have ever read from Mark Oshiro). I especially appreciate how this collection takes a hard left out of the constant bullying narratives of so much work created for queer young people and instead allows so much space for joy, pleasure and humour! 

Queer Nightlife

Perhaps you, like me, long for your clubbing days pre-pandemic, pre-kids, pre-bad-back-and-dodgy knees. While we wait for the safety to return so that we can shake our asses and sweat on each other, we can at least dip back into it with this amazing looking discussion of how vital our queer gathering spaces are and have always been. CLAGS, the Center for LGBTQ Studies at New York University, hosts co-editors Kemi Adeyemi and Kareem Khubchandani as they discuss how queer and trans people of colour use these spaces, creating performances and aesthetics that can change the world. Monday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. EDT with ASL interpretation provided.

Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League

Credit: Courtesy of

This brand-new book by Britni de la Cretaz and Lyndsey D’Arcangelo is beautifully written, meticulously researched and packed full of exactly as much queer content as you’d hope for from a story about women and football (and the images, omg). Hail Mary includes both reporting and commentary in the style of a (very) long-form feature of the sort we’ve all grown to love—a deep dive into all the factors and foibles. The authors are also appearing at several events both live and virtually; follow them on Twitter for details about what is guaranteed to be a lively series of conversations.

Romanovsky & Phillips (ICYMI)

Before Madonna told us to express ourselves, before Gaga proclaimed were were born this way, before Lil Nas X encouraged us to call him when we wanted him, gay folk duo Romanovsky & Phillips were releasing entire albums of topical and extremely gay songs that floated above the gay beaches so we could echo-locate our fellow ’mos. The tunes range from difficult (“Homophobia,” how little has changed…) to delightful (the timeless anthem “Don’t Use Your Penis for a Brain”) and while some of the language can feel a little dated, there’s something about returning to the first explicitly gay tunes I ever heard. (This was around the same time I sat with my ear pressed to the radio to hear if Erasure was really, actually singing “mein Herr” in that one song, as we all searched for scraps of queer representation.) 

And that, my cider cozies, is the lot for this bracing edition of “Queer Culture Catch-Up.” I hope your wool socks are toasty and your grey sweatpants are hanging just right as we enter the time of holiday lights (and holiday stress). May your tootsies stay warm and your laptops stay cool, until we meet again. As always, if you’re making something new and queer, email 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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