From the ultimate James Baldwin playlist to a juicy plus-sized cabaret

Our recommendations for what’s up and what’s on, beginning July 1

Hello, my nutritious and delicious delicacies. Congratulations to us all: we made it through Pride month! Now just wrath, sloth, gluttony, lust and some boring ones left to go. While we work our way through our sins—making sure they’re as original as possible, thank you very much—I’m truly pleased to continue serving as your queer culture nerd, bringing you a fresh and fruity selection of options for you to gorge yourself upon until the juice drips down your chin.

James Baldwin’s Record Collection

James Baldwin
Like James Baldwin’s writing? Let Ikechúkwú Onyewuenyi introduce you to his taste in music.

Credit: Allan Warren

Okay, so: Ikechúkwú Onyewuenyi, a curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, was doing research on James Baldwin’s unfinished play, The Welcome Table. Part of that included  looking at photos of Baldwin’s record collection from his house in Provence, France, and this absolute hero decided to compile a 32-hour playlist of all the music in Baldwin’s house. Through the incredible work of Onyewuenyi and the magic of the internet, you can listen to exactly what James Baldwin listened to as he wrote (or, at least, as much of it as is on Spotify) via the playlist “Chez Baldwin.”

The Kitchen & Jorn Show

Kristin Chirico and Jen Ruggirello star in YouTube's Kitchen and Jorn Show.
Kristin Chirico and Jen Ruggirello star in YouTube’s Kitchen & Jorn Show.

Credit: Kitchen & Jorn Show

Buzzfeed expatriates Kristin Chirico and Jen Ruggirello have what I can only describe as “a vibe,” in the same way The Try Guys do: somehow everything is 72 percent funnier when they do it on camera together. Their Kitchen & Jorn Show is full of nonsense and antics (not to mention shenanigans) and wholly, wholesomely queer. All the episodes are deeply charming, but the newest entry, in which the dykenamic duo style Kristin’s girlfriend Brie (who is trans and adorkable and can 100 percent rock a rainbow), just gives me such happy feeeeeeeeeelings. 


Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane and Blue

Still from Derek Jarman's Sebastiane
Derek Jarman’s debut feature, “Sebastiane,” was revolutionary for its time.

Credit: Derek Jarman Films

Our friends over at are adding Derek Jarman’s first and last feature films to their streaming service beginning on Wednesday, July 7, and though I’ve seen Blue a few times over the years I had never seen Sebastiane, Jarman’s first feature. Whew, is Sebastiane a wild ride. Roman baths, punishment, exile, masks, broad satire, a lot of sweat and a whole lot of naked men. Also it’s in Latin, with English subtitles? I couldn’t say I enjoyed it, exactly, but I was glad to have seen it and to feel like I had a grasp on Jarman’s trajectory as a filmmaker from beginning to untimely, agonizing end. 

Untold Stories: Beyond the Binary

Xtra editor and multi-hyphenate Tre’vell Anderson has a podcast out, Untold Stories: Beyond the Binary, with Entertainment Weekly. Once I got over my shock that a magazine I used to buy for my Nana at the Stop ’n’ Shop was making work about trans and non-binary people, I hastened my happy gay ass over to check it out and, oh, the smartness. The assembled guests have so much to say and the conversations are thoughtful, wide-ranging and studded with queer quips. If you’re not well-versed in non-binary identity, aesthetic and vibe, here’s a range of smartypantses from ALOK to Demi Lovato to tell you about it.

Juicy Jems Cabaret 

Mx Bukuru
Mx. Bukuru is one of the performers featured in the one-night-only Juicy Jems Cabaret.

Credit: Natalie Taylor

For everyone who likes their lovers (or eye candy) luscious, abundant and fabulously fat, I have excellent news: you can catch a hot and thick half hour of burlesque, drag, spoken word and more at Juicy Jems Cabaret on Thursday, July 2, at 7 p.m. PDT. This Vancouver-based troupe will water the thirsty and afflict the comfortable in a dazzling show beamed right to your own living room (or bathtub—we won’t judge) which, to my mind, is one of the few upsides to pandemic closures. In the before times, I never would have been able to see this one-night-only performance. And now? You bet your size 14 heels I’ll be parked happily in front of it.

Rise to the Sun and Out of Character

If you didn’t know, Tuesdays are book release days and Tuesday, July 6, is the book birthday of two queer romances I absolutely inhaled when they arrived. Rise to the Sun, by Leah Johnson (author of the absolutely amazing You Should See Me in a Crown) is a Black queer romance set at a music festival, and while it does include some rough themes, it retains an optimism (to say nothing of a lyricism) that makes it eminently readable and truly satisfying. Out of Character, a cute, gay enemies-to-lovers story by Annabeth Albert that hops from trope to trope, comes out the same day. While the two books are about as different as happily-ever-after romances can be, I’m honestly just so happy to have gay beach books besides Maurice, again


I was telling a friend the other day about my affection for the strange but appealing movie Boy Culture, directed by Q. Allan Brocka and based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Rettenmund. It’s a love story, a sex work story and a chosen family story. I find myself drawn back to it surprisingly often, I think, because emotionally, it feels completely truthful. I’ve had those feelings, I know those people (sometimes I have been those people) and sometimes on a muggy summer night (like last week) I’m drawn back to a bowl of popcorn and the boys and all their feelings, their triumphs and trials, all over again.

That’s what I have for you this week, my dear and wonderful woodwind ensemble. I hope it carries you forward into the great and wild July.

Meanwhile, take a cue from my dog: lie in a cool patch of clover for a while, and then lick the hell out of someone you love. 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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