Thursday, 9 August 2012

An Evening With Kate

Over the past number of years, I have to grown to love the month of August in Vancouver for a few reasons. As far as social and cultural events, the month starts off with Pride week (my posts about this year's are below). Later on in August, there is Out On Screen's Queer Film Festival which has promised and delivered on fantastic LGBTQ films from around here and around the world for years. In between and overlapping with both events is the Queer Arts Festival, a series of exhibits and performances, held at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown.

This year, the sole event I went to see, with a group of friends, was Wednesday evening's performance of monologues by transexual artist, activist and gender theorist Kate Bornstein. The last time I met Kate was eleven years ago at the 2001 North American Conference on Bisexuality and Gender Diversity. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to see her perform, but I did buy one of her books (Gender Outlaw) and got her autograph which she signed "To a beautiful spirit!"

I have never forgotten that moment, nor any of her books that I have read. I eventually bought a copy of her My Gender Workbook and, a few years ago when I was not in a good way, I bought her Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws. The voice of that last book felt like that of a tough, street wise aunt with a huge heart, the kind who would invite her teenage niece in from the rain for a nice warm, bowl of soup and an afternoon of chatting and watching TV. The stunted "inner teenage niece" in me felt safe enough to come out while I read through the book which I could not put down until I had finished it.

Just over a month ago, I heard Kate on CBC Radio's Day 6 and found out that she had written a new book, a memoir called A Queer and Pleasant Danger which I have now added to my wish list. Seeing her performances about her life, family and various struggles was very moving. Her presence was a gift that I was treasure for years to come.

Thanks for your visit, Kate! Hope to see you again, someday!

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