The Time for a Trans + Non-Binary Performer Cabaret is Now!
The world of events is ever-evolving, with curators always on the lookout for new ideas, new venues, and new ways to gather their communities together. Sometimes those ideas are especially resonant—something just clicks at the right place at the right time—and it’s especially exciting to see it all unfold and come together.
One of those “aha! We need to do this now!” moments just happened for Caitlin and Kaleb, the two amazing curators and performers organizing the upcoming F*ck Sh*t Up: Trans + Non-binary performer cabaret here at the Gladstone. They’ve worked together before, hosting workshops on gender & performance at Girls Rock Camp, a summer rock camp for girls and trans/non-binary kids in the city.
Now they’re bringing a talented list of performers to the December 13th edition of the Gladstone’s Thursday Night Cabaret series, and so far the response from the community has been electric.
We sat down with Caitlin and Kaleb to chat about the upcoming event, why they’re so excited for it, and where they hope it will go from here.
Why do you think it’s so important to have this cabaret happening right now? People are really excited for it— what does it mean for the community?
Caitlin: The political climate is an obvious reason. It’s such an important time for something like this to happen, we need to make ourselves visible. Kaleb and I have been talking about doing an event for a year, including potentially doing a partnership with Inside Out, but with everything that’s happening with Doug Ford right now, we felt like we didn’t want to wait anymore. We also released the info for the show on Trans Day of Remembrance because that felt like the right timing.
Kaleb: With all the stuff going on around government policy & the vocal anti-Trans/LGBT people out there, we really need fun and positive ways to support trans and non-binary people, so coming up with a cabaret seemed natural. It wasn’t even hard to come up with a list of performers — it was easy to put together a diverse and talented group of people.
How does F*ck Sh!t up fit into/relate to/respond to the cabaret scene in the city?
C: It often seems like trans/non-binary performers are a checkmark on the diversity checklist, but at this event, they’re the centre of focus.
K: We also want to show other people in town that you CAN do this. If anyone out there has a line-up that’s all white cis/binary people, they need to look at how to be more inclusive. There are lots of people, like Dainty Smith of Les Femme Fatales and Zyra Lee Vanity, already doing amazing work in the burlesque world.
What about venue spaces, are there enough venues supporting the trans community in the city?
C: We’re just losing spacing everywhere. Creating a queer space where POC can feel safe it’s really important because we’ve lost four venues this year. While Glad Day has been making an effort to create safe spaces for all LGBTQ community on Church, there are many people who don’t feel comfortable in the village period. I don’t go to the village unless it’s for a specific event because I feel that the spaces aren’t designed to be inclusive (I performed at Woody’s once, and I had cis-gay-males heckling from the audience), and that almost all Church St spaces are physically inaccessible. A lot of us are west end babies too, so it’s really important for us to create these spaces close to home. Having the support of established spaces is really important as well because it adds some stability, knowing that the venue won’t close.
Does the same go for the DIY scene/spaces too?
C: It seems like we don’t have any anymore! There’s Unit 2, where Bricks & Glitter was based out of, and they’re wonderful, but it’s hard to do big parties there. It might be the only place left that is truly DIY in Toronto; just keeping doors open and lights on can be a struggle here. There is Genderfuck Halifax that features trans & non-binary performers — it’s in some ways way easier to do there. We’ve actually been talking about doing a touring show, with local performers from Montreal, Toronto and Halifax teaming up, which would be exciting.
Are there any other events you’re excited for in the city in December?
C: December is a bit of a strange time of year for events, but Halal Bae’s In Living Colour at the Beaver is coming up and I’ll be performing, so I’m really excited. It’s all POC performers and last month it was all trans performers. It’s always really exciting to have a space that’s all POC & trans performers. Les Femmes Fatales women of colour burlesque troupe also have a show December 9 at The Pilot.