Jillian Christmas’ queer femme slam poetry extravaganza

And other recommendations for what’s up and what’s on, beginning Oct. 7

Greetings, friends, Romans and countrypersons, and welcome to another installment of “Queer Culture Catch-Up,” the highly idiosyncratic series in which a selection of books, music, films and other content committed by our fellow members of the alphabet mafia take centre stage! I’m your host, noted nerd S. Bear Bergman, here to guide you through the thicket of items vying for your precious gay attentions. I promise I’ve chosen only the ripest, the juiciest and the most delectable creations (according to me, see dealer for details, your mileage may vary, void where prohibited). 

The Care We Dream Of edited by Zena Sharman

If you have ever been to visit a doctor, dentist, hospital or therapist, or had bodywork or acupuncture or any of that while also being out (either volitionally or because you were outed by circumstance, or just because your whole vibe is a ringing bell of queer embodiment), you probably have stories about it. The Care We Dream Of, edited by Zena Sharman, takes those difficult stories and spins them like straw into gold. This priceless volume is perfectly balanced, with many stops on the Emotional Superhighway—from righteously enraged to validating and tender. It contains not only essays about health care but also reflections, ruminations and proposed restorations to improve the care LGBTQ2S+ people receive in all facets of the health care system. Read The Care We Dream Of if you have a body and ever take it to the doctor at all.

Violet Hour Book Club

In transparency, I have not participated in The Violet Hour Book Club as my schedule is truly ridiculous but here I am, looking at the upcoming and recent books they’ve tackled and it makes my heart go pit-a-pat (Carmen Maria Machado, David Demchuk, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki? Uh, yes please). But it looks fun, and they are doing a hybrid of in-person and online meetings (based in Montreal) which I love them for doing. I love books and I love book clubs and so this whole situation makes me happy. Go and enjoy.

my body is home / mon corps est l’océan / mo lekor se enn zil by Kama La Makerel

Poet and performance artist Kama La Mackerel.

Credit: Noire Mouliom

This is a bit of an odd thing for me to recommend, as I’m not typically a wild fan of conceptual or performance art, but it just goes to show that some people can make anything interesting. my body is home / mon corps est l’océan / mo lekor se enn zil was created for the Momenta Bienniale, which celebrates the image writ broadly. With the sugar of the transatlantic slave trade, the salt of oceans, a radiant kind of love and an equally chilled and congealed grief, La Makerel creates a performance that’s sometimes so affecting you forget about the craft (and sometimes the other way around). It streams for free until Oct. 24, and because it was recorded live with some ambient wind and weather, I’m going to encourage you to turn on the captions so you can properly sink into the experience.

Reality Show Reject/L. Rogers

I feel completely unclear about why TikTok music maven Reality Show Reject, a.k.a. L. Rogers,  isn’t already a household name, at the very least in queer households. The singer combines a tremendous voice, a fully-automated queer camp aesthetic, and a musical imagination that contains as much whimsy as it does gravitas. Rogers hops from concept to concept, sometimes turning in note-perfect renditions and sometimes just playing with concepts like “every single John Mayer song done an octave higher sounds like a Disney princess.” (It’s true!) The musical fancies are very fun, and very queer. There are more polished situations in the world but Rogers is just an absolute delight (and babes, if I had a reality show, I would cast you in a hot second).

Lyrical Femmes, Jillian Christmas and Nisha Patel at LitFest

Poet Jillian Christmas.

Credit: Karen Ho

I am a huge Jillian Christmas fan—as in: the first time I heard her perform I maybe had to go have a cry for a bit by myself. Immediately after that I started asking her to make projects together because she is amazing (many other people share this opinion, including the Writers’ Trust, who gave the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for Emerging LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers to Christmas last year). I’d never heard of Nisha Patel until I saw she was performing with Christmas in this queer femme slam poetry extravaganza of joy, which I feel grouchy about because after a little light YouTubing, I am fully sold on Patel. Now I just regret the years I didn’t have any Nisha Patel in my poetry landscape. Lyrical Femmes, a duo poetry show of slam champions(!), is a LitFest event in collaboration with the Edmonton Poetry Festival, and you can watch it live on Oct. 23 at 9 p.m. EDT or at any point until the end of the festival on Oct. 25.

Trans Comedy Takeover (ICYMI)

Actress, writer and producer Rain Valdez.

Credit: Courtesy of rainvaldez.com

Having nothing whatsoever to do with any “comedian” who may or may not have a new Netflix special that takes repeated shots at queer and trans people for absolutely no fucking reason, I would like to remind you that last spring GLAAD, the LGBTQ2S+ media watchdog, made #transcomedytakeover, this curated Instagram of 17 trans comedians—and quite a few of them are really funny. As D’Lo, a longtime fave and one of said featured funny people says, “Trans folks actually CAN take a joke, it’s just that we’re too busy trying to stay alive sometimes to laugh at ill‑crafted, cheap‑shot humour. Trans folks are incredibly funny when you’re not ruining our lives.” Also please, whatever you’re doing this morning, if you have a minute and 18 seconds for pleasure (you do), watch Rain Valdez do this bit about if trans women flirted like cis men (I fully snortled).

That’s the lot for me, my plump and perfect cider donuts, except for the minor note that my own book, Special Topics In Being A Human, comes out next week, and it got a starred review in Publishers Weekly. So if you enjoy this sort of thing, you might well also enjoy that sort of thing (it’s a little less queer than this column, but frankly so are most things). In fact, may everything you have to interact with in the next two weeks be absolutely as queer as possible, and may someone invent glitter toothpaste soon, for all our sakes. As always, if you’re making something new and queer, email info@xtramagazine.com 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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