From Black lesbian thinkers to the hottest Hot Docs

Our recommendations for what’s up and what’s on, beginning Apr. 22

Hello again, friends and lovers and probably also nemeses! I’m S. Bear Bergman, queer nerd about town, and I am charged by our friends at Xtra to spend each fortnight scouring the internet for all the very best in trans and queer cultural items: Music, books, films, events, podcasts and more. We’ve got a hot and heavy slate this time out, so fire up your calendars and book in for some of these amazing things (even if it means blocking off a few hours just to sit and read).

Reading group with Dr. Jules Gill-Peterson

Are you very ready to hear someone talk about trans kids who actually knows things? Me too, friends, me too. To help with this, I bring to your attention the incredible Jules Gill-Peterson, author of the amazing book Histories of the Transgender Child (full of decisive proof that being a trans, non-binary or gender-independent child is not remotely a new situation in the world, as she’s discussed in many interviews recently). While definitely an academic book, Gill-Peterson is not only a great researcher but a great writer, so the book is accessible and interesting whether or not you know your hegemony from your heuristic. She’s speaking at Queen’s University (via Zoom, like everything right now) on Friday, Apr. 23 at 3 p.m. Register for free to join in and listen to her brilliance live

QueerCab: Transitory Present

QueerCab: Transitory Present

Credit: Courtesy Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

If we’re all supposed to be living in the moment, these fine folks are making art about moments. QueerCab: Transitory Present kicks off an eight-day run on Friday, Apr. 30, at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre (in the windows in Toronto and online, too). This chapter of the QueerCab series looks at fleeting moments, surprises and more through a variety of artistic lenses. Curated by Heather Caplap and Adjani Poirier—who also host the opening night event (in for my gaymers and the gaymer-curious out there)—QueerCab: Transitory Present talks about how the wild warp and weft of time has left us wondering how to understand time at all. It looks queer and delicious, both leisurely and urgent, so I’ll see you in the tiny pixels at the opening. For extra credit, pair with Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art’s exhibit Remote Intimacies; although the events happened last year, transcripts and videos are available for your reading and imagining pleasure.


Youth (and multi-generational) events and conversations

Are you an LGBTQ2S+ young person, or do you know one? Then join some amazing artistic events this spring! The designation of “youth” in these recommendations reaches to 25 or sometimes even 29, depending who you ask (organizationally speaking). Since a lot of queer and trans youth are having an extra rough time right now—especially those forced to go back and live with families of origin—let’s round up some rad queer artistic and cultural events that are youth-centred or explicitly multigenerational, shall we? ACAS is hosting a free improv class for queer Asian youth on Sunday, Apr. 25 at 1 p.m. Here’s an online book club hosted by San Mateo Pride in California (this month, they’re reading the biography Troublemaker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the March on Washington). Meanwhile, our fabulous friends at Youth Project in Halifax have an entire slate of events, monthly support groups and more to check out. Also, this column started juuuuust after Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance’s residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario, but they make a lot of youth events, so follow them on Instagram to keep track of the next and newest.

Mouths of Rain

Book cover for Mouths of Rain

Credit: Courtesy The New Press

If you’re blocking off your calendar, block some time for an amazing new anthology of Black lesbian writing. Holy pancakes, friends, Briona Simone Jones has just released Mouths of Rain: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought and it’s glorious. Jones has collected the works of Black lesbians (leaving the category wide and welcoming to include many flavours of queer expression) going back a century, while inviting modern Black lesbians to comment, contextualize and trouble it as time marches forward. Come for the gorgeous poetry and affecting prose, stay for the dawning realization of how much early Black lesbian feminist work became the unacknowledged (and uncredited) cornerstone of modern feminist thought.

Hot Docs Toronto International Film Festival

Film still of two men embracing

Credit: Courtesy Hutong Productions

Grease up the popcorn bowl, it’s film festival season! If you’re jonesing now that Toronto Queer Film Festival has just wrapped up, good news: It’s Hot Docs o’clock! There are a range of queer-flavoured films to check out that will appear in future Xtra coverage, but definitely check out Acts of Love, an experimental and admittedly chaotic (but strangely charming) attempt by pretty French filmmaker Isidore Bethel to figure out his romantic and sexual life using a few apps and… his mother’s help? Also have a look at two intimate shorts: Body Politics, a portrait of Black queer fat activist and member of Ontario’s provincial parliament, Dr. Jill Andrew; and Into Light, a tender little picture of a single mom and her trans daughter, navigating all manner of struggles and triumphs. 


Were we just discussing the ways that Black queer work has pushed our thinking and our movements forward? Check out the 2019 film Happy Birthday, Marsha, available for rent on Vimeo or on Amazon Prime in some areas. The film got somewhat overshadowed by a Marsha P. Johnson film by another director whose process raised a lot of questions. This beautiful short, made by Sasha Wortzel and Tourmaline, feels like the love letter it is, and the one Marsha P. Johnson deserved.

That’s that for this time, bunnies and badgers and birdies galore. Enjoy the spring sunshine, support your local queer artists, get yourself a little treat and I’ll see you next time. As always, if you’re working on something new and exciting, let me know about it! Email or DM me on Twitter with your news. 

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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