From an Alok Vaid-Menon performance to Black queer folk rock, everything to get you through the pandemic

Our recommendations for what’s up and what’s on, beginning Mar. 25

Welcome to this week’s edition of Queer Culture Catch-up! I’m opinionated nerd S. Bear Bergman, and every other Thursday, you’ll get a buffet of LGBTQ2S+ cultural products and events that might not have reached your radar yet—books, music, theatre, film, podcasts, online events and more. Will they be an idiosyncratic hearty blend of all sorts from across the range of pitch and tone? Yes. Will they all be things I’m excited about? Also yes. It’s okay, we’ll get used to each other.

Ready to be visible (or admire someone who is) for Trans Day of Visibility on Mar. 31? 🏳️‍⚧️

Alok Vaid-Menon performs, experts discuss decolonizing trans health and more!

Alok Vaid-Menon

Credit: Courtesy Alok Vaid-Menon

You can check out this timeline of Canadian trans milestones; watch a panel of experts discuss decolonizing trans health; drink in some trans portraiture at Radical Tenderness, presented by the New York Public Library; watch a performance by Alok Vaid-Menon; join a dance and makeup party with the Trans Empowerment Project; spend the day with trans Jews and more. Check out #TDOV2021 on social media to find events that suit your vibe, or ask your trans or non-binary friends what they think you should check out.

For musical theatre gays pining for the stage

Into the archives with Anything Goes

The Broadway Podcast Network, bless them to the second reprise, has been getting dusty (in the archives) to bring us Anything Goes, a blast-from-the-past podcast of interviews by Paul Lazarus originally made for WBAI-FM in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Find conversations with Steven Sondheim, Steven Schwartz, Ethel Merman, Alan Menken (before he was famous), composers singing songs that got cut from musicals and more, with new episodes dropping weekly.

Appetite for cinema whetted now? No need to be left unsatisfied!

Toronto Queer Film Festival 2021

Toronto Queer Film Festival

Credit: Courtesy Toronto Queer Film Festival

The Toronto Queer Film Festival’s 2021 program, Queer Emergencies, looks amazing. This year, it features the silly, the sexy, the sentimental and more—including a feature presentation of Dionne Brand’s 1993 Afro-Canadian lesbian film Long Time Comin’. Passes for the festival are pay what you can and include the whole delicious queer business. The program runs the whole weekend of Mar. 25-28, so don’t sleep on this.

International human rights films from the comfort of your couch? FLARE says yes

FLARE, London’s annual queer film fest

The British Film Institute, which presents FLARE, London’s annual LGBTIQ+ film festival, has made their human rights program, Five Films for Freedom, (a) free and (b) internationally available this year. With films from India, Spain, Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S., the festival is full of amazing offerings for British friends. But for the Canucks, the Five Films for Freedom series is available on the British Council Arts Youtube channel until Mar. 28.

Best of queer lit? So many choices! Here’s a hot high five seven (I couldn’t pick just five)

Lambda Literary Awards nominees

Love After The End book

Credit: Courtesy Arsenal Pulp Press

The Lambda Literary Awards released their shortlist this week, and my to-be-read pile grew three sizes. Of the books I’ve read already, loved and wish to recommend to you, dear readers, are: Bestiary by K-Ming Chang; More Than Organs by Kay Ulanday Barrett; Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit & Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction, edited by recent Canada Reads winner Joshua Whitehead; You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson; Spellbound by Bishakh Som; and, of course, Here For It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America by R. Eric Thomas. Another book I learned about from Lambda’s list that I’m now very excited about: This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope by Shayla Lawson (whose articles I’ve read but I still somehow managed to miss this book).

Did you need some Black queer folk rock to get you through your week, month, lockdown, life? I think you do

Joy Oladokun

Arizona singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun is giving a lot of joy with her new work—a new video, a new single collab featuring Jensen McRae, an appearance on The Tonight Show—with her gorgeous voice and thoughtful lyrics that explore Blackness, Christianity, queer identity, love, loss and longing. There’s a new album in the works, too, due later in the spring, so follow her on Spotify now—that way you won’t have to live a minute without it. 

A quick pandemic pick me up for your oh-shit-this-again? moments

Madam Adam

I love a foul-mouthed and tender-hearted queer, I love a witch, I love a fast-talker and I love Madam Adam on TikTok in the mornings. They also read tarot, which seems cool, but it’s the 60-second thoroughly queer pep talk complete with flying F-bombs and flowy robes for me. 

Hearing some racist and whorephobic takes after the Atlanta massacre but not sure quite how to organize your response argument? 

Red Canary Song, Butterfly and more

NYC-based Red Canary Song (RCS), an Asian American-led sex worker justice and advocacy organization, has a statement and links to survivor fundraisers. Toronto-based Butterfly, which supports Asian and migrant sex workers, has a list of demands and a petition you can sign. There’s also an NPR interview with Yves Nguyen of RCS about the killings and a brilliant article in Chatelaine by Elene Lam, Chanelle Gallant and Vincent Wong. I’ll add a timely reminder that policing bodies and sexuality by the state is policing bodies and sexuality by the state no matter whom, so: LGBTQ2S+ people are already fully enmeshed with the struggle for full decriminalization of sex work, even if we don’t always think about it that way.

ICYMI (this is where I put an item or two that’s not new but is delightful and relevant regardless)

Kumu Hina

Kumu Hina

Credit: Courtesy PBS

The 2015 documentary Kumu Hina, about māhū hula teacher Hinaleimoana Kwai Kong Wong-Kalu, is a longtime fave—partly because she’s so talented and so smart, but also because Wong-Kalu is actually the subject of this decolonial Hawai’ian documentary and not just an object of interest or a screen upon which people can project their feelings about transness or fetishizing “the Other.” Watch for free here with your library card, or watch her TedX talk here. Either way, you’re going to have the shivers. 

That’s me for this Thursday, t-squares and protractors and slide rules of all sizes. Stay safe, stay kind, stay connected and keep me posted—if you’re up to something new, I want to hear all about it via email ( or slide into my DMs.

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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