A special Pride edition of Bushwig at the ruins at Knockdown Center
An intimate evening of queer discourse with author Paul Tran followed by a reception at Bacari in Silver Lake
Alok Vaid-Menon (they/them) is a multi-genre performance artist. They have headlined the New York Comedy Festival and Vancouver’s Just for Laughs Festival, authored a prose book, Beyond the Gender Binary (2020), published two poetry books, Femme in Public (2017) and Your Wound / My Garden (2021), and they’ve appeared on Netflix and HBO shows. Multiplicity is at the root of their sense of possibility. For Vaid-Menon the term means “being able to creatively self-fashion our identities and lives, not merely being offered pre-formatted categories and templates. It means affirming our continual potential for transformation and transcendence.”
One way that Vaid-Menon affirms the potential for transformation is by calling for an end to the unjust marginalization, within the queer community itself, that has historically harmed trans and non-binary people the most. When asked how they would like to see the queer community have grown by next year’s Pride, the artist urged, “I would like there to be unflinching solidarity for trans and non-binary people. Despite the fact that it was trans and gender-non-conforming people who started Pride, our communities have historically been scapegoated and demonized even within the queer community. That intimate betrayal is heartbreaking and disappointing and must be healed.” They added, “One thing I want to keep is all the dancing. We always need more spaces to dance!”
Vaid-Menon is as committed to dancing as they are to self-love. “I didn’t expect to learn how much courage it truly takes to love — especially to love oneself,” they admit. …
An intimate evening of queer discourse with authors Meredith Talusan, Vivek Shraya, Raquel Willis, Qween Jean, Tourmaline, West Dakota and many more...
Isaac Fitzsimons (he/him) is the author of The Passing Playbook, a young-adult novel about a trans soccer star confronting whether to stay benched or fight for his right to play. The writer knows how important it is to find yourself on a bookshelf. When asked what library he first loved, Isaac recounted, “There’s a children’s library in the neighborhood where I grew up called Noyes Library. It’s housed in a one-room building in the historical part of town and looks like a fairytale cottage. I have memories of walking there with my mom and my brother and feeling like I was stepping into a storybook. For a child in a world that’s so big, having something made just for you feels really special.”
Remembering those who helped him see his own identity, Fitzsimons pays it forward. While some of his fictional characters deal with religious trauma, the author is fortunate to not have experienced this first hand, “in large part due to the rector of the church I attended in high school,” he explained. “Even though I wasn’t out as anything back then, seeing a proud gay man preach from the pulpit meant that I’ve never felt like I must choose between my identity and my faith. As I get older, I realize how privileged I am in that regard.” This role model was who Fitzsimons said he’d like to give flowers: “I’d send a truckload of lilies to Father Beddingfield as a thank you.”
Outside of writing, Fitzsimons likes to spend time in the water, swearing by aquatic exercise as self-care. …
Paul Tran (they/them) has had dreams come true. Their debut poetry collection, All the Flowers Kneeling, was released earlier this year by Penguin-Random House in the U.S. and the U.K., and their work has been featured widely, from the pages of The New Yorkerto the soundtrack of the movie Love Beats Rhymes starring Azealia Banks. When we asked the writer to whom they’d like to give flowers, Tran was emphatic: “My mother deserves all the flowers in the world. She came to the United States from Vietnam in 1989. She raised me on her own and made it possible for me to be the first in my family to graduate high school and go to college. Now I’m a tenure-track assistant professor of English and Asian American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Everything I do is driven by my hope to give us a life we can be proud of. My book is titled All the Flowers Kneeling, and when I think of who the flowers kneel for, I always first think of her.”
The elements that Tran alchemizes to create magic are love, language, and time. Meditating on the idea of possibility, Tran explained, “I used to think that, if I could, I would go back in time and change the course of my life. I’d tell myself, and those I love, that we were doing our best, and I’d tell us that a better life was yet to come. But, now, I think that possibility means going forward, to keep going forward, daring and dreaming, and to keep seeing what extraordinary magic we can make happen with this life.” …
Vivek Shraya (she/her) is a chameleonic artist who has produced award-nominated albums like 2019’s Part-Time Woman, best-selling books like 2018’s I’m Afraid of Men, and a publishing imprint of her own, VS Books. In I’m Afraid of Men, Shraya shares her record of the traumas that homophobia, misogyny, and transphobia inflict. Her talent for pulling off whatever genre best frames her creative vision has long been nurtured by regular trips to the library. “Being an introvert,” Shraya recalled, “I wasn’t drawn to the so-called cool places in the mall, but I loved the Edmonton Public Library (which was also in malls!) because it was a quiet place full of adventure and discovery, where I could access dozens of books filled with knock-knock jokes, origami instructions, and detective stories. That library was a portal — I could go anywhere, try anything, be anyone — and for free, which was especially useful being from an immigrant household.”
The multidisciplinary artist’s commitment to community shines through when asked what changes she’d like to see by next year’s Pride. Highlighting values like respect and generosity, Shraya revealed, “I would love to see our communities address lateral violence more head-on. How do we find ways to be kinder to each other and if we need to hold each other accountable, how do we do this with respect and generosity?” This sense of responsibility is nourished by the wisdom that to care for the self is to care for others. , “A self-care practice that I’m deeply invested in,” Shraya shared, “is my friendships (and doing what I can not to just center romantic intimacy). …
The Aesop queer library is now open! This Pride initiative by the beloved beauty brand Aesop, is the kind of pride programming we can get behind. Instead of slapping a couple of rainbows on the side of their Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash, and calling it a day, the brand is putting their dollars to truly good use. For pride they are turning some of their stores around the world (Williamsburg, New York, Silver Lake, L.A. and Queen Street West, Toronto) into actual queer libraries. Each store will stock over 140 titles by talented queer writers like Paul Tran, Vivek Shraya, Isaac Fitzsimons, Alok Vaid-Menon, Meredith Talusan and many others.
According to the brand “The library is fuelled by a belief in the transformative power of queer storytelling: its ability to broaden minds, embolden individuals and unite the community and its allies.” Any young queer kid who was able to find queer stories when they were learning about their gender expression and sexuality knows how valuable the written word can be. Books have the power to introduce us to new worlds, and new ways of thinking that can be life lines for many people. With new bans on queer books in repressive states across the U.S. it’s more important than ever to elevate queer voices.
This year the library is putting a focus on voices that explore the BIPOC trans experience. The Aesop Queer Library is a meaningful way to support our community and probably the nerdiest Pride event you’ll ever find — which is obviously why we love it, and why we feel so honored to be a part of it. …
An event presented by Horrorchata with shows by La Zavaleta, Pixie Aventura, Warhola Pop, Freeda Kulo and Jenn D Role at C'mon Everybody, Brooklyn, NY.
Charli XCX has always had a plan. It’s been that way ever since she started making music in her bedroom in Essex, England as a young teen. At 15 she convinced her parents to loan her money to record her songs in a professional studio. They also chaperoned her to illegal warehouse parties where she would perform her music to zonked out ravers, often not heading home until sunrise. When she was signed to a major record label at 16, one of the first things she did was pay back the money she’d borrowed from her parents.
Five albums later — her newest, titled Crash, is the last in her record deal — and she’s still calling all the shots. Charli XCX has deconstructed the female pop star and reconstructed her with only the parts she most likes. She’s gone through many iterations, her most recent is the sexed-up bombshell who knows she’s hot and isn’t afraid to flaunt it. After speaking with some of her fans, it’s clear that one of the most compelling things about Charli is her vulnerability. She’s long been vocal about the ups and downs of pop stardom. In 2020 she shared her struggles with anxiety in a documentary that chronicled her writing and recording an album in only five weeks during lockdown. In our conversation she credits that experience, and starting therapy, for her newfound confidence in embracing her body and sexual energy.
We photographed the 29-year-old pop star one early fall day at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles’ Victor Heights neighborhood. …
Hosted by Roopal Patel + Jonathan Anderson with a special performance by Justin Vivian Bond at Joe's Pub