For those of us book-inclined queer folks, pride season not only means parades and general fuzzy feelings of being surrounded by queer family, but awesome literary events featuring some of the best in queer writing, storytelling, theatre, poetry, and more. Canadian pride weeks often feature all Canadian writers at these kinds of events. One event I wish I could go to–damn this country’s massive size!–is in Toronto this week. The Proud Voices reading series happening at Glad Day bookstore this year has an awesome line-up, mostly filled with Torontonian queers. This is the event that I recently reported Nalo Hopkinson withdrew from because of “poorly handled labour issues” associated with the bookstore that she didn’t want to support. I did some searching about what exactly these issues are, to no avail, so I’m annoyed that Hopkinson made this public but didn’t provide more of an explanation or a source for her information. If you’re going to make the decision not to support the oldest queer bookstore in the world–yes, this is Glad Day bookshop–and to publicly proclaim this, you need to give people the information so that they can make an informed decision. I would continue to support the store, especially since it’s under new ownership after having nearly been shut down earlier this year, until I hear something solid about what actually happened.
I would especially recommend seeing the Proud Voices panel this Saturaday night, which features Farzana Doctor, whose latest novel Six Metres of Pavement recently won the Lambda literary award for lesbian fiction. The novel tracks Fatima, a young queer activist, and her friendship with an older divorced transportation engingeer who becomes her unlikely ally. Kristyn Dunnion, whose gritty short story collection The Dirt Chronicles–published by the ever-fabulous Arsenal Pulp Press–was up for the same award, will also be reading. If you’re into queer mysteries, there’s also a reading earlier that morning featuring Liz Bugg, the author of the Calli Barnow mystery series. I’m also curious to see Nina Arsenault, who is reading on Friday night from the collection of essays dedicated to her, Trans(per)forming Nina Arsenault: An Unreasonable Body of Work. She’ll be reading a story about her transsexual “spiritual mother” and I love hearing about folks’ queer parents/mentors.
The festivities are also starting in the much sleepier west coast town of Victoria. I love Victoria Pride because it feels so down-to-earth, low-key, and activist compared to the gigantic corporate-fueled extravaganzas in Vancouver and Toronto. Definitely don’t miss the drag ball–kings against queens–on July 1st. Their event Pride and the Word has been great in the past, featuring none other than Ivan E. Coyote, but they don’t have this year’s performers listed yet, so stay tuned for more info on that!