The German word zugunruhe translates as the “stirring before moving.” It’s used to describe birds and herds of animals, like wildebeests, before the great migration. Though Jules Torti is neither German nor a wildebeest, she understands this marrow-deep anxiousness all too well; she is just someone looking for a home.
Free to a Good Home is evidence of Torti’s life-long commitment to feeling at home where it mattered most: within herself. At eighteen, with one thousand dollars in her bank account, she moved to the West Coast from Ontario to find “her people.” She headed specifically to Davie Street—that’s where all the gays were! Finding a girlfriend proved to be elusive, but she learned a lot of Pet Shop Boys lyrics and studied everything by Jane Rule and Chrystos for guidance.
Torti continued searching. Whether prepping chimpanzees breakfast in the Congo, searching for her own breakfast in the dumpsters of Vancouver’s back alleys or seeking a permanent address in Ontario’s unforgiving real estate market—with many other worldly adventures in between—Torti found that homesickness took up its own residence in her identity. While she longed for a home of bricks and mortar (or log or stone), she knew her greatest sense of home was to be found in a person, the missing her.
For many, the path to home is never linear. If Torti began her memoir in Amsterdam, you might not follow. If she began in Uganda, you might get it. If she started with her time spent in the soggy Costa Rican jungle, you’d have a better understanding. But, if she scrolled back to her tomboy self at age six, then you’d see. Logically, this is where she begins her memoir of emotional geography: on an unpaved country side road in Southwestern Ontario, among the corn and tobacco-fringed fields of Mount Pleasant, where she grew up. At turns poignant, hilarious and uncannily familiar, Free to a Good Home explores what it means to call a place home when life oddly mirrors a choose-your-own-adventure storybook.
Chenille or Silk is a startling first collection of confessional poetry examining the slippery relations of desire, class, embodiment and trauma. Emma McKenna’s writing traverses the bounds and the wounds of a family marked by poverty and intergenerational trauma. The collection asserts the primacy of intimacy and sexuality to subjectivity, as the poems move through the struggle to find identity, love and belonging in an urban queer community’s ever-shifting economy of desire. Striking, brave and at times uncomfortable, Chenille or Silk captures the ambivalence—and the hope—of possibility.
There’s no straightforward path to LGBTQ2 parenthood and just as every queer person has their own coming out story, every LGBTQ2 family has a unique conception or adoption story.
In Swelling with Pride: Queer Conception and Adoption Stories, creative non-fiction writers celebrate LGBTQ2 families and the myriad of ways we embark upon our parenting journeys. These honest, heartfelt, unabashedly queer stories cover a gamut of issues and experiences, including the varied paths to queer conception—from DIY methods at home with the so-called “turkey baster” to pricey medical interventions at the fertility clinic—and the daunting task of choosing a sperm donor. This groundbreaking anthology portrays the journeys to LGBTQ2 parenthood that start or end with adoption and the countless hurdles that go along with it: from surviving the home study process and dealing with systemic homophobia to transitioning an adopted child into a new home. There are tales of shared nursing, blended families, communal parenting and non-binary pregnancy. There are also stories of grief, all too often suffered in silence, such as coping with infertility, pregnancy loss, stillbirth and adoption breakdown. These are the journeys of the early mavericks that formed families under the radar when fertility clinics were not open to singles and lesbians, as well as the Gen X and Millennial queers who’ve become parents during the current “gayby” boom.
Editor and proud queer mom Sara Graefe has assembled more than twenty-five creative non-fiction LGBTQ2 authors from across North America, both well-known and up-and-coming, including Andrea Bennett, Marusya Bociurkiw, Jane Byers, Susan G. Cole, Caitlin Crawshaw, Rachel Epstein, Terrie Hamazaki, Nicola Harwood, Natalie Meisner and many more. Together, their candid, moving, thought-provoking stories celebrate what it is to be queer and give voice to both the challenges and joys of building a LGBTQ2 family in a predominantly straight, cis-gendered world.
How can a god-fearing Catholic, immigrant mother and her godless, bohemian daughter possibly find common ground? Food Was Her Country is the story of a mother, her queer daughter and their tempestuous culinary relationship. From accounts of 1970s’ macrobiotic potlucks to a dangerous mother-daughter road trip in search of lunch, this book is funny, dark and tender in turn.
Bociurkiw’s Ukraine-born mother is a devotee of the Food Channel and a consummate cook. When she gets cancer of the larynx, she must learn how to eat and speak all over again. Her daughter learns how to feed her mother, but, more crucially, how to let her mother feed her. Food Was Her Country explores a daughter’s journey of grieving and reconciliation, uncovering the truth of her relationship with her mother only after her death.
Marusya Bociurkiw’s Comfort Food for Breakups: The Memoir of a Hungry Girlwas a food writing phenomenon: the world’s first LGBTQ food memoir. With this long-awaited follow-up, Food Was Her Country draws upon a queer archive of art and activism, stories from her popular food blog, Recipes for Trouble, as well as social histories of food, evoking new beginnings and fresh ways of tasting the world.
Growing up during the 50s and 60s in small town Alberta, Pam was keenly aware, by the age of nine, that she was a lesbian. And she also knew well to hide this about herself. Pam would search for books on ‘The Island of Lesbos’, only to return from the library with a copy of Little Women. In between the vast spaces of dust and dugouts, she grows up and grows old, playing her saxophone in deep, blaring notes. Age is a constant marker throughout these poems for an otherwise long and lonely time of waiting for queer rights, for acceptance, for love. Poet Tina Biello unearths just about everything from beneath the Alberta ground: dinosaur bones, a family’s firstborn, missing cows. A voice from within the Prairies, Playing into Silence is a look back at a dry time in lesbian identity.
In All Violet, a young woman chronicles the experience of living on the margins, in spaces and places where body and mind are flayed by guilt, disappointments and betrayals. Her poems record the shattering trauma of struggling to survive through periods of doubt, fear, rage and pain, creating a narrative of disconnection, indignation, alienation and emptiness, the extremes of suffering and desperation.
Employing lyrical free verse, Rani Rivera has skillfully employed the short line to pinpoint moments of acute perception.
Unadorned, taut and precise cries of pain, loss and fury draw the reader deeper and deeper inside this in-your-face confrontation with a dark world of foreboding alleviated by flashes of mordant wit and grace under fire.
Butch: Not Like the Other Girls is a photographic exploration of the liminal spaces occupied by female masculinity in contemporary communities. Its first incarnation exhibited as a public art project in transit shelters around Vancouver in March-April 2013, with a simultaneous gallery show at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre (the Cultch). According to Cultch administrators, the opening night (which attracted over 500 attendees and spilled out into the street for half a block) was the largest visual art opening in their 35-year history. The project caused an internet sensation, generating thousands of posts and shares on social media, blog posts as far away as Germany and Denmark, and interest for further exhibitions across Canada and the United States.
This project delineates Butch as an inclusive site of resistance to limitations on the way women, gender, and sexuality are still defined. The images honour the beauty, power, and diversity of women who transgress the gender binary, interspersed with text written by the photographic subjects themselves. The transversal dialectic of female masculinity is celebrated here — unapologetic and undiluted.
The author positions Butch as intrinsically queer. They explore the complex and contradictory natures of butch, “glorying in our mercurial and perhaps sometimes confusing natures.” Butch not only forces a reassessment of the body and the queer subject, it dismantles socialized, role-defined, gender appropriate behaviour. The queer cultures in which Butch is situated are constantly changing, and the author captures a diverse range of portrayals that celebrate and reflect butch identities. In the context of transgender movements, intersex activism, and genderqueer dialogues, a project like Butch on picturing and mirroring butch finds an important place.
This mouthwatering, intimate, and sensual memoir traces Monica Meneghetti’s unique life journey through her relationship with food, family and love. As the youngest child of a traditional Italian-Catholic immigrant family, Monica learns the intimacy of the dinner table and the ritual of meals, along with the requirements of conformity both at the table and in life. Monica is thirteen when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoes a mastectomy. When her mother dies three years later, Monica considers the existence of her own breasts and her emerging sexuality in the context of grief and the disintegration of her sense of family.
As Monica becomes an adult, she discovers a part of her self that rebels against the rigours of her traditional upbringing. And as the layers of her sexuality are revealed she begins to understand that like herbs infusing a sauce with flavour, her differences add a delicious complexity to her life.
But in coming to terms with her place in the margins of the margins, Monica must also face the challenge of coming out while living in a small town, years before same-sex marriage and amendments to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms created safer spaces for queers. Through risk, courage, and heartbreak, she ultimately redefines and recreates family and identity according to her own alternative vision.
Jane Byers’ Acquired Community is both a collection of narrative poems about seminal moments in North American lesbian and gay history, mostly post-World War II, and a series of first person poems that act as a touchstone to compare the narrator’s coming out experience within the larger context of the gay liberation movement.
The “parade” poems such as “Celebration Was a Side Effect, 1992” explores the important role parades have played in the queer movement and how they have transformed from activism to celebration. “St Patrick’s Day Parade, 2014” takes the Boston St. Patrick’s Day committee’s homophobia to task, reminding us that this is not ancient history, but an ever-transforming experience. In her long poem, “Keen,” Byers imagines a dialogue between a young queer university student and Michael Lynch, an AIDS activist, poet and scholar who helped found many gay community institutions. In this compelling poem we are reminded that the AIDS epidemic had a rippling effect, touching the lives of everyone within the gay community and well beyond.
In this second book by Byers her poems go beyond the historical perspective of LGBT rights and are living examples of progress. Acquired Community examines and celebrates community resilience.
— Winner of the 2017 Goldie Award for Poetry