Whether you’re commemorating Pride history or just wanna boogie, here’s our ultimate event list

Our recommendations for what’s happening for the second half of Pride month, beginning June 17

Well, my alphabet mafiosi, we at the Happy Home for Wholesome Homos are busy with gay papercrafts and trans anthems even as I feverishly type. The breezes are cool, the queers are hot and we are fully into Pride Month, honouring and continuing the fight for LGBTQ2S+ justice and freedom. Heralded by such liberatory moments as Walmart turning its logo to a rainbow flag on LinkedIn, it can be too easy to forget why we have Pride marches. So before we dig into some of the many, many, many Pride events let’s do a roundup: Why are we here?

Many of us have heard at least a little about the Stonewall uprising in June of 1969, where Stormé Delarverie was the first to fight back against a violent police raid of the New York City gay bar. But fewer know that other similar events have also galvanized Pride, including the queer insurrection at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco (watch the film Screaming Queens on Kanopy, free on many library systems), in which street queens and sex workers fought back against police harassment and brutality. 

In response to Toronto police’s Operation Soap, which led to the violent mass arrest of gay men in 1981, people took to the streets and marched in protest against police violence and behaviour meant to dehumanize the almost 300 gay men they arrested in the city’s bathhouses.

All of which points to why, today, many people are much more enthusiastic about including kink at Pride than police—and can you blame them?

In any event, here for your enjoyment and edification: an entire slate of Pride events and activities. Press play on this Pride track (with French and English verses) and read on!

Gather: Virtual LGBTQ Intergenerational Event

Are you in a gay rut, friends-wise? A little lesbian lag in your ability to expand your social circle? Want to make more connections with people who’ve lived through different parts of the struggle than you have? People who are older can hold a lot of history that hasn’t been written down, and people who are younger carry the energy (and fresh perspective) to imagine an even free-er future. Chicago’s Howard Brown Health hosts Gather, a monthly hangout for conversation (and, let’s be honest, flirting) online, with a special Pride edition on Thursday, June 17, at 5:30 p.m. CDT.


Blockorama and F*ck Shit Up

Fluffy Souffle & Babia Majora
Fluffy Souffle and Babia Majora present F*ck Shit Up! A Trans and Non-Binary Cabaret.

Credit: Nick Merzetti

For nearly a decade, BlockoStage and Trans Stage shared physical (and emotional and spiritual) space at Toronto Pride. In my mind, they will always go together, partly because we combined and conspired to get the most for our budget—or the best flavours of seltzer for our honoured performers—and partly because Black Trans Excellence remains very strong in Toronto. While there aren’t IRL stages this year, I still feel great love for the pairing and the events are always too much fun. Blockorama 2021: Black Is Love will bump and grind and wow and shine with hours of performances and DJ sets on Sunday, June 27, at 6 p.m. EDT. If you like it all mixed up, artistically and genderifically, there’s F*ck Shit Up: A Trans and Non-Binary Cabaret on Friday, June 25, at 4:30 p.m. EDT. Both are my priority picks for Pride events, but check out Pride Toronto’s whole schedule. In or near Toronto and ready to take a physically distanced walk? Check out the ON FOOT self-guided music tour of the Church/Wellesley Village, which is available all day on Thursday, June 24.

The Racist Origins of Homophobia

Aria Sa'id
Aria Sa’id leads the workshop “The Racist Origins of Homophobia.”

Credit: Dustin Cunningham

For some real talk about how racism harms all of us under the rainbow umbrella and what we can do to take our histories back, register for a workshop on Tuesday, June 22, at 3 p.m. EDT to learn about The Racist Origins of Homophobia. Led by Aria Sa’id, executive director of the Compton’s Transgender Cultural District in San Francisco, California, this queer history series digs into the ways that racism and homophobia are inextricably intertwined (hello, settler colonialism, thanks for yet another “gift”) and how successfully colonization has erased community knowledge of LGBTQ2S+ language and histories.

Two Spirit: A Conversation on the LGBTQ Identity Amongst the Indigenous Community

Want to soak in Indigenous history and learn about some of the broken threads that many of us don’t yet understand and appreciate? Tune in on Friday, June 18, at 2 p.m. EDT to hear Osage and Peoria member John Hawk Co-Cke’, a cloth dancer and a traditional pipe carrier for the Two-Spirit pipe, speak about the traditional roles and value of Two-Spirit people. Come and vibe with a critical piece of our history or pick up some teachings to carry forward when people start acting like trans and non-binary folks were invented the day before yesterday and you need them to just stop. Want to go even deeper? Check out this five-part web series featuring education and panel discussions about Two-Spirit topics; it’s pre-recorded, so you won’t get the pleasure of meeting people over Zoom, but you will get a quintuple-helping of knowledge and joy.

We Love Like Barnacles

Poster for "We Love Like Barnacles"
Sins Invalid present their “We Love Like Barnacles.”

Credit: Micah Bazant

Our hard-working and hard-wearing friends at Sins Invalid, a disability performance troupe that centres the experiences of queer and trans disabled people, is offering a Pride Month encore of their performance We Love Like Barnacles, about crip lives under climate change and the ways we connect and collaborate to survive and fight beautifully. If you’re already in love with Sins Invalid, this will be more of the same gorgeous resistance, along with shattering truth-telling. If you’re new, you’ll be joining us in the love aisle soon. Catch it Friday, June 25, at 10 p.m. EDT and Saturday, June 26, at 4 p.m. EDT on both days. In English, Spanish and ASL with audio descriptions and captioning available.

Butch Voices Presents: Stonewall Veteran Jay Toole

Stonewall veteran Jay Toole
Stonewall veteran Jay Toole.

Credit: Micah Bazant

I love stories, period. I especially love stories of the good old, bad old, queer old days. Even the awful ones leave me feeling connected in ways that few other things do. Storytelling from someone who lived and fought through it? Very yes. On Saturday, June 19, at 3 p.m. EDT, Butch Voices presents “superbutch” Jay Toole, with stories of Stonewall and her journey as a longtime activist and advocate for liberation. Butch Voices hold space for butches, studs, aggressives and other masculine of centre identities (a term coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project) with the goal of increasing positive visibility for all. Like many other organizations presenting work around Pride, they work all year ’round creating opportunities for us to learn, laugh and yes, love together.

A World of Connections to LGBTQ Jewish Pride

LGBTQ organization Keshet convenes an international Pride panel this year, celebrating queer and trans Jewish activists from the United States, Mexico, South Africa and the United Kingdom. These tireless campaigners will share their challenges and successes both within and beyond the Jewish community on Wednesday, June 23, at 12 p.m. EDT. If you’re working in a religious community and trying to make sense of next steps as religion and queerness keep getting sold as opposites, here’s a balm for your tired queer soul. 

Human Lights Festival, 7 Stages

Renowned, boundary-pushing theatre 7 Stages of Atlanta is hosting two weekends of thematic, theatrical performances from a wide collection of international artists, covering the topics of awakening, rage, rebellion, deconstruction, hope, reconstruction and change. A truly dizzying array of online and in-person performances, films and interactive experiences, presented over seven days between June 18-20 and June 24-27, are available for your Pride delectation. While not all of them are specifically queer, many are. What feels more important to me is that they all engage us in the moments of envisioning a future that’s just and free. If you want to go to Black queer poetry church, see this recorded performance of Then They’ll Tell You It’s All in Your Head by one of my longtime favourites, Theresa Davis.

To be honest, daddies and beauty queens, there is a stunning array of cultural and artistic Pride events on the short horizon. It was hard as hell to choose just a few to offer for your wisdom, wellness and wonder—even if you can’t get wet and wild in the streets.
Let me take this moment to encourage you to check out something new, something unfamiliar, maybe even something a little challenging. Even if you can’t soak up the Pride sunshine in the company of several hundred thousand of your closest friends, you surely can (and should, I say!) let yourself soak in the moment of productive discomfort that change is made of. Next column we’ll be back to more in films, music, books and more. So email info@xtramagazine.com or DM me on Twitter with your news and, in the meantime, I hope you have a joyful and political Pride.

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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