Queer-affirming observances, Broadway online and new Aiyana-Lee

Plus other recommendations for what’s up and what’s on, beginning April 14

Well, my wonderful pocket friends, the ground is thawing and the crocus flowers and snowdrops are poking their pretty heads above the soil and my seasonal allergies are in full swing. This tells me two critical queer things: our sap is rising, and we are keen for beauty. It’s also the season of big-deal holidays (Passover, Ramadan and Easter all overlap this year) and big-time sensuality for which we have a feast for you, whether you have it with a service, after sunset, or with some hot cross buns.

Welcoming and celebratory observances

This isn’t for everyone, certainly, as so many of us have been harmed by religion, and I sure as hell don’t blame you if you gave it up for a lifetime. But if you want to join a queer-affirming seder, iftar or other service, we here at “Queer Culture Catch-Up” have got you covered. Congregation Beit Simchat Torah offers a streaming Passover seder (as well as one in-person, if you’re in New York City) along with a little primer about Passover prep. The Lighthouse Church of Chicago, a predominantly Black congregation of the United Church of Christ led by Pastor Jamie Frazier, streams a regular Sunday service and has special worship for Easter. And el-Tawhid Juma Circle will stream a selection of Ramadan offerings, as well as an Eid al-Fitr observance at the conclusion of the holy month. It’s also worth mentioning that each of these is a specifically LGBTQ2S+ project; they aren’t the services of tolerance or even of acceptance, but rather spaces where queer and trans people are centred and celebrated. If you’ve never had that experience, I recommend it.

Dear Jean Pierre: The David Wojnarowicz Correspondence with Jean Pierre Delage, 1979-1982

This feels like such an exciting, behind-the-scenes peek into a great artist’s life that I’m fairly busting to share it. PPOW, one of my favorite NYC galleries (also the one that introduced me to the work of Sandow Birk) is hosting an exhibition of Wojnarowicz’s correspondence and small art, ideas and experiments with an early lover, Jean Pierre Delage. They’ve put a lot of the pieces online for you to peruse quietly (perhaps one a day as a meditation on love and longing?), as well as an interview with Delage in which he reflects on his relationship with a young Wojnarowicz and talks about why, after all this time, he was ready to exhibit this beautiful and important correspondence.

 

“Make You Love Me,” Aiyana-Lee

Queer pop/soul/R&B powerhouse vocalist Aiyana-Lee has a new EP out, Wednesday’s Child, and although the modern rhyme says Wednesday’s Child is full of woe, the traditional version says she’s merry and gay, which this EP certainly is. The audio gains a very hot video for catchy track “Make You Love Me” as of today (never let it be said I don’t bring you the absolute freshest, friends), and this luscious video is a vintage fantasy come to life. Aiyana-Lee, who is essentially music royalty as the niece of David Ruffin (that’s him with the iconic lead vocal) and the granddaughter of pathfinder Jimmy Ruffin, obviously inherited both the family pipes and the stage presence. Now she’s giving it a Black queer femme twist and I, for one, am very enthusiastic. 

Broadway, from home

If travel restrictions have you down in the dumps, or if you’re longing for a return to theatre but not ready to breathe other people’s air quite yet—or even if you just missed some things that have closed—there’s good news. The nice folks over at Broadway HD offer, by subscription, the opportunity to stream high-quality recordings of Broadway plays and musicals, including Falsettos, Kinky Boots, and Leave It On The Floor, as well as lesser-known queer plays like Bright Colors And Bold Patterns and even concerts (Liza With A Z in HD, anyone?). There’s a free trial if you’re responsible enough to remember to cancel, but if you (like me) regularly forget to, at least the monthly tariff of $11.99 isn’t too steep, and you can program a whole month of gay joy. 

I Need Space by Donja R. Love

This web series is a film-theatre hybrid situation that I am very excited about, treating themes of isolation, loss, hope and community in a way that doesn’t veer into the didactic or tiresome. I Need Space by Donja R. Love contains no “this is how you should feel” business, but rather an emotionally truthful and complex exploration of one specific character’s internal landscape about connection and belonging—or lack thereof. Sometimes sad, sometimes sexy, definitely compelling and just a little raw, Love threads that needle like a pro. Also, the talented cast includes Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, so obviously rush right out because when her name appears we go. It’s the rule.

And that, my beloveds, is a fortnight of queer and trans pleasures you can enjoy from home with friends beside you, to guide you, to hold you and to scold you (though not too many friends, please, and maybe a rapid test beforehand just to keep every possible beloved queer and trans person safe, which has been my life’s work, really). Look out for yourselves and each other, check in on that one friend who is always checking in on you, and I will see you gorgeous humans next time on “Queer Culture Catch-Up.” As always, if you’re making something new, drop me an email or DM me the details—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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