Everything from gender in opera to the best queer anthem for a serotonin boost

Our recommendations for what’s up and what’s on, beginning Mar. 11

Welcome to Queer Culture Catch-up! I’m opinionated nerd S. Bear Bergman, and this is my new bi-weekly column. 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 idiosyncratic, a 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.

If you’re keen to discuss radical justice models

Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement

Beyond Survival book cover

Credit: Courtesy AK Press

This is today, Mar. 11, but it’s so good I don’t care. The amazing editors of Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories From The Transformative Justice Movement, Ejeris Dixon and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, will join a panel of smartypants guests for Transformative Justice in the Apocalypse: Beyond Survival One Year Later. Tune in for brilliant people talking about policing, prison abolition, movement building, justice and where we are now after this absolute goat rodeo of a year and what’s next. It’s free, with live transcription and ASL interpretation provided. Register at the link above (do it now; I’ll wait).

If you want to laugh, cry and smile in one sitting

Trans in Trumpland

Produced, directed by and starring trans people, the four-part documentary Trans In Trumpland is now streaming on Topic, a newer player in the streaming game. The doc is kind of heartbreaking in some ways but also incredibly hopeful in others (like everything right now, I know). But Trans In Trumpland will take you on an entire emotional journey and stamp every page of your passport. You can watch the first episode for free on Topic, and view the trailer on the doc’s website.

If you want to reminisce about your teen queer days or peek into modern queer teen drama


Justice Smith and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett in genera+ion
Justice Smith and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett star in ‘genera+ion.’

Credit: Courtesy HBO Max

HBO Max has just released Genera+ion, which, despite the silly styling of the title, looks really interesting. I came out as queer as a teen and had teenage queer friends, all of us holding on very tightly to each other and practising being brave and making questionable decisions, so— while I havent seen any of this one yet—I’m keen to. It stars excellent youngster Justice Smith, among others, and is made by two dads and their teenage daughter as a family project, making this the most wholesome origin story with fisting references (this month, anyhow)! 

If you want positive insight into sex work

We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival

Feminist Press just released We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival, edited by Natalie West, with Tina Horn. A title riffing on Tarana Burke’s Me Too movement, it’s full of essays by current and former sex workers about their work, about justice and about the ways sex work stigma and regressive criminalization laws mess things up. It’s also funny and fresh and very not the same story you might have heard about sex work before—the pieces feel complex and exciting.

If you didn’t know gender in opera was a burning issue

Gender and Opera

Last week, the Canadian Opera Company hosted a convo, Gender and Opera, featuring Aria Umezawa in her role as the company’s new disruptor-in-residence (a job title I feel very ready for if anyone has one that doesn’t require a knowledge of opera) and transfemme free-range disruptor Avery Jean Brennan. I don’t wish to overpraise COC for managing the basics, but I have become accustomed to organizations managing to talk all day about gender and never once ask anyone trans to participate, so I’m pretty into this and—bonus—the video is great.

If you could use some serotonin 

“Serotonin” by girl in red

girl in red
Marie Ulven, better known as girl in red.

Credit: Courtesy John Harvey Pegg

Finishing us off with a queer anthem to mental health meds and keeping your equilibrium however you have to is girl in red, a project of Marie Ulven, a young Norwegian with an album coming out next month. Ulven released this surprisingly perfect upbeat song about… feeling like shit, called “Serotonin.” Play this when you need a little serotonin boost or a reminder that Horrible Brain Weasels can tell you terrible lies. (Or if you want someone to know you’re a ‘mo. “Do you listen to girl in red?” is the new “are you a friend of Dorothy?”)


Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts

Pausing the stream of newness for a moment, I’ll use a little space each column to give some shine to at least one thing I don’t think got enough when it came out. Allow me to direct your attention to An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon, which actually did get a lot of love when it came out but it feels somehow like the exact wildly-hopeful-under-crushing-circumstances, misfit-saves-the-day book I really, really want right now as winter drips down my neck (and Solomon has a new book out in May, Sorrowland).

That’s the scoop for this round, friends. If you’re making a new thing and it’s queer or trans, and you’d like me to consider it for this column, let me know at info@xtramagazine.com. Enjoy, stay safe, be easy and see you next time.

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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