If crack-smoking mayor Rob Ford is all you know about Toronto, then you have a lot to learn. While the Canadian city has become internationally infamous for the disturbing antics of its unfortunate mayor, Toronto has cultivated one of the most exciting and diverse queer feminist art scene in recent years. From last Halloween’s Lesbian Feminist Haunted House to numerous experimental queer bands, Toronto has a community that supports media makers who push the political and artistic envelope.
The literary world gained a valuable new addition last week with the launch of new literary journal THEM, which focuses on the work of transgender writers.
Debuting on December 13, THEM proclaims itself to be the nation's first literary journal to specifically focus on trans* voices. While there arenumerous literary journals that highlight LGBT issues and writers, and a couple trans*-focusedanthologies, THEM is the first American journal that publishes only the work of people who identify as "within the trans* umbrella" (using the term "trans*" with the asterisk to include who have non-binary transgender identities). The volunteer-run biannual journal features writers from around the country, seeking to create a space that amplifies trans* voices.
Guinevere Turner first made a name for herself with her debut film, Go Fish, cowritten with director and then-girlfriend (although they broke up mid-shooting) Rose Troche. Turner went on to direct many short films, wrote for The L Word (and played the elusive heartbreaker Gabby Deveaux), not to mention cowriting the scripts of American Psychoand The Notorious Bettie Page.
Turner is now working on her feature length directorial debut with Creeps, a film about a chosen family of somewhat aimless twenty and thirty-something friends living in L.A. in the nineties. I had the privilege of interviewing Turner about Creeps, and the ongoing Indiegogo campaign to crowd-fund the project—it's over in four days!
By the time it won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, the French film Blue is the Warmest Color was well on its way to being one of the most highly praised—and most controversial—films of the year.
When Star Trek first appeared on screen in 1966, it set the model for all sorts of shows to follow—including the theme of unrequited homoerotic relationships. The devotion of Kirk and Spock, full of longing glances and a sexless intimacy, sparked a whole new genre of queer fanfiction and, to this day, keeps fans rabid for every small moment between the two.
These days, TV is full of couples like Kirk and Spock. While these close same-sex relationships can be sweet portraits of loving friendships, they can also cross a line to be queerbating—shows create queer subtext but yank it away before getting to actual feelings, actions, or any clear understanding of the relationship.
Every year on Halloween, evangelical religious groups set up hell houses: horrific theatrical events that showcase sins like fornication, abortion, and same-sex relationships—sounds like a scarring experience for those who don’t take shame in these ‘sins.’ Yet for the participants in these hell houses, their artistic efforts are a form of activism. This year, Toronto-based feminist artist Allyson Mitchell, along with a crowd of community members, constructed and performed Kill Joy’s Kastle: A Lesbian-Feminist Haunted House. Outlining the horrors of feminist pasts and presents, the hand-made installation and queer-crafted performance exorcised from the grave things which scare those both outside and inside of Mitchell’s artist, activist, and academic community.
I took a trip to the lesbian-feminist haunted house to experience the spookiness.
Racism is an integral part of US culture, but the shape and nature of racism changes with every generation. This country’s roots in slavery and colonization gave way to Jim Crow, reservations, and racist immigration policies. Since the late 1960s, we’ve been living in the post-integration era where real progress in a few areas has created a pretense that racism is over. This things-are-so-much-better-now narrative continues in spite of people of color continuing to testify about how racism still affects every aspect of our lives on a daily basis.
As the context of racism changes, what it means to be a white anti-racist “ally” has transformed, as well.
Photo: Dr. Josephine Baker, an accomplished early 20th century scientist who lived with female partners all her life.
Coming out in any workplace can be a daunting task. With all the recent discussion around the lack of women in science, I got interested in investigating the experiences of queer women in science. So in the spirit of National Coming Out Day this month, I interviewed ten queer professionals and students working across science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields about how they decided to come out or stay in the closet at work.
Formed in response to the fact that the world needs more art, music and culture made by and for queers, Not Enough! Queer Music and Arts festival is a celebration of all new and collaborative bands, film, performances and visual art made by queer folk!
This marks the festival's 4th year. During the last three years, artists and musicians have created 47 bands and performances (as well as multiple films and visual art pieces) specifically for the festival. Many of these groups have gone on to continue to perform and record. Inspired by the Portland festival, Not Enough Fests have happened in New Orleans and Winnipeg.
This year's festival will happen on October 19th at SMYRC in Portland, OR. Read more info on dates and times and how to attend at NotEnoughPDX.com.
Amy Rubin is the creator of the hit web series Little Horribles. The series has been called "The lesbian alternative to Girls," which I suppose is an adequate comparison, although what really fascinates me about Rubin's work is her grassroots approach. She achieves high production value, quality dialogue, and great acting without the backing of a network like HBO or a producer like Judd Apatow.