Miss Major, Big Freedia, Dykanite and trans science fiction on deck for Pride Month

Plus queer poetry and two big film festivals online

Well, my delicious darlings, Pride Month is in full swing and my inbox is overflowing with LGBTQ2S+ content of all kinds—all type and manner of organizations, from film festivals to sex toy companies, are clamouring for queer attention to show their allyship with the lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer and Two-Spirit communities. While I certainly have my critiques of rainbow capitalism, I am also old enough to remember when being visibly queer got me kicked out of Macy’s in Boston for wanting to try on a suit, or when it was impossible to buy a dick that wasn’t a sad and veiny beige. So while we build the just and equitable world we want to live in, I forgive myself (and you) in advance for being excited about my choice of body-safe dildos in bi or rainbow flag colours from Fun Factory, or non-binary Ts from Phluid supporting a range of important orgs or Bombas socially-conscious Pride socks as we enjoy a big fat bonus Pride edition of Queer Culture Catch-Up.

Image+Nation Queer Short Film Festival

Short films remain one of my favourite ways to see fascinating queer and trans concepts brought to fruition in ways that feel immediate and honest—no need to convince a studio to give you a zillion dollars to explode a national landmark or hire Jamie Lee Curtis for your project, just grab your camcorder and go tell a story that interests you. The Image+Nation Queer Short Film Festival honours this intention by presenting their entire program of shorts on a pay-what-you-can basis from June 22 to 25 (online across Canada), and includes a selection of films that look sexy, hilarious, thoughtful and completely heartbreaking. While I haven’t been able to watch them all, I did get to see films in the A Question of Gender and the Ukrainian-focused Queer Fighters programs, which rocked my world in the best ways.

“Row, Row, Row Your Boat” remix, Gracie’s Corner with Big Freedia

Big Freedia joins Gracie’s Corner.

This may feel like a “kid in your life” entry to the column and to some degree it is, but honestly it’s also for the kid in all of us. Gracie’s Corner, an animated YouTube series featuring joyful encouraging songs with an all-Black cast, has invited New Orleans monarch of music and column fave Big Freedia to collaborate on a sissy bounce version of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and I am truly excited to both send this to all my parent friends and to see the eventual, delightful drag numbers it will doubtless produce.


Queer Poem A Day, Deerfield Public Library

Ruben Quesada Credit: Courtesy of Ruben Quesada

This podcast, from the Deerfield Public Library in Illinois, is doing a special Pride Month podcast series called Queer Poem A Day, curated by Lisa Hiton and Dylan Zavagno, featuring modern queer and trans poets reading their own work (and, in some of the later episodes called Lineages, also reading a queer poem that inspired their work). The short episodes take about as much time as folding a load of laundry or taking an after-lunch stroll, but you can do those things in the estimable company of poets like Eileen Myles, Chen Chen and Ruben Quesada (of whom I became an instant fan after being at a conference together last spring). It’s also the third season of this series, so if you’re just joining the poetry party now, there are weeks and weeks of poems waiting for you.

Miss Major Speaks, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and Toshio Meronek

Miss Major at San Francisco Pride in 2014. Credit: CC Quinn Dombrowski

It’s worth mentioning that I am, in every possible way, a lifetime fan of Miss Major and count a time when I had a few minutes to sit and talk with her at a conference among my most treasured memories (she had a bout of coughing, and I offered her a bottle of water or a throat lozenge and she laughed and accepted both and then patted the couch beside her and instructed me to sit with her—reader, I have rarely been so happy to obey). She has been the subject of myriad media projects, including this compelling short by Tourmaline and illustrated by Micah Bazant, documenting her tireless lifetime of trans activism. Now, I am literally breathless with excitement to report, she has published a book, Miss Major Speaks: Conversations with a Black Trans Revolutionary and it is everything I wanted and hoped for—her exact, take-no-shit-and-give-no-fucks brand of advocacy narrating the incredible story of her life. I can also hear her perfectly responding to that sentence by saying, “I just did what needed to be done,” which, not at all coincidentally, is what heroes always seem to say. If there’s one book I want you to read, give as a gift, smuggle into a library, or send to a prisoner for Pride, it’s this one.

Dykanite, lesbian geologist and TikToker

Credit: Courtesy of TikTok

My 13-year-old science-nerd child introduced me to the amazing TikTok account of Dykanite, a volcanology (I didn’t know that was a thing either, if we’re being honest) PhD student and A++ science communicator, currently counting down the top 10 gayest rocks in the world (I’m weirdly proud that I worked several summers in, I shit you not, Cummington, Massachusetts where #10, Cummingtonite, was discovered). There’s also a new Pride Month series on LGBTQ2S+ scientists they probably never bothered to teach you about in school. Partly I am into this for the glorious nerdery and partly for the possibility model—you too, young queer, can get a PhD in volcanoes and yell joyfully about rocks for a living.

Frameline Film Festival streams at home

Stephen Winter’s Chocolate Babies from 1996 screens at Frameline. Credit: Courtesy of Frameline

The Frameline Film Festival, now in its 47th year, is well-known for bringing the best and newest of queer films to its giant Bay Area audience (sometimes well ahead of their theatrical releases). Recently, Frameline has added an all-you-can-eat stream-at-home pass, from June 24 to July 2, if you wanted to enjoy your own tiny personalized film festival from your couch. While the pass doesn’t include some of the marquee in-person offerings, it does include a ton of amazing-looking films including a refreshed print of the 1996 film Chocolate Babies. Of the in-person films, should you be geographically-convenient, I am pretty excited about the film adaptation of Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s YA novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which I adored as a book and cannot wait to see as a movie (and the audiobook of which, I have just discovered, was narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda for some extra delight).

Ten Essential Short Stories by Trans Authors, Tor

I am not always the biggest science fiction/fantasy/speculative fiction fan, and I sometimes worry that those works don’t get the attention they deserve over here because I often have a hard time getting into them. Writer Nic Anstett has done me and you a favour by rounding up 10 brilliant sf/f stories by trans authors you can read online, right now, like a little digital anthology. People in these stories link minds, fight aliens, change sexes nightly and, of course, confront dragons, so if you like this sort of thing please allow me to recommend to you this excellent curation of things I think you will like.

And there you have it, my freedom rings (this is the original designer; accept no heterosexual substitutes), a set of fresh delights for your eyes and ears when you need a break from ogling cuties at your local Pride events. Don’t forget your sunscreen, stay hydrated, keep a sharp eye out for fascists and other evil-doers and if you’re making anything new and queer, drop me an email or DM about it? I love to hear 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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