The 10 best events at literary festival Naked Heart

The largest LGBTQ literary festival in the world is happening in Toronto on November 10-12

The largest LGBTQ literary festival in the world returns to Toronto from Friday to Sunday (November 10-12).

Presented by Glad Day Bookshop, Naked Heart also has had the most women and people of colour represented in its lineup of any Canadian lit fest for the past two years, according to organizer Michael Erickson, and more than half of the 90 authors attending are new or unpublished.

Lit stars like Amber Dawn, Casey Plett, Alok Vaid-Menon and Trish Salah are also on the bill.

Featuring panels, readings and workshops, the festival takes place in and around the Church and Wellesley gay village, with Glad Day Bookshop (499 Church) acting as the festival hub.

A pass is available, but most sessions also have individual pricing and sliding scale rates.

If you want to hone your writing skills, schmooze with authors or expand your mind, these are the 10 events you need to hit.


Christopher Samuel’s Conform, Fail, Repeat: How Power Distorts Collective Action

Kick off the festival at this book launch, where Samuel and long-time activist and author of Queer Progress Tim McCaskell will discuss politics, strategy, global movements and struggles for justice by linking LGBTQ activism, G20 protests and more.

Friday (November 10), 7:30-8:30 pm. Glad Day Bookshop. Free.


Marrow And Memory

Indigenous writers Cherie Dimaline – winner of the 2017 Governor General’s Award for English-language Children’s Literature – Arielle Twist, Michaela Washburn and Nathan Niigan Noodin Adler reflect on relationships between storytelling, memory, love, justice and possibility.

Saturday (November 11), 12:30-1:45 pm. 562 Church. $5, or free with festival pass.

Building Family: In Writing And In Life

For many LGBTQ people, family can cause pain but also healing. Chosen families become central, so how do LGBTQ writers imagine and create family, real or imagined, chosen or blood? Find out in this discussion with Jessica L. Webb, Jin Haritaworn, Jody Chan, Shaunga Tagore and Steven Sanchez.

Saturday (November 11), 5:15-6:30 pm. 562 Church. $5, or free with festival pass.


Confessional Poetry 101: Writing Against Erasure, with Gwendolywn Benaway

Benaway’s writing is personal, vulnerable and raw. She refuses to shy away from difficult topics, challenging normative and colonial narratives. Her poetry embodies a voice of ownership and power laced with intentional healing. In this workshop, you’ll learn to refine your most vulnerable, confessional voice from one of the best.

Saturday (November 11), 2:15-3:30 pm. 562 Church. $10, or free with festival pass.

Queer Futures: Writing Possibility

Eli Tareq Lynch and Sasha Tate-Horwarth facilitate a workshop about community, future writing possibilities and making space for individual and collective reflection and sharing. Drawing from participants’ ideas, this session with rely on imagination around what communities, bodies, communication and love may look like in the future.

Saturday (November 11), 3:45-5 pm. Glad Day Bookshop. $10, or free with festival pass.

Shadow Writing, with Hannah Harris-Sutro

In knowledge and transformation, there is liberation. Harris-Sutro will guide participants through a journey of encounters with shadow selves and inner monsters, listening carefully and intentionally for the voices that exist deep within us. Using writing, embodied practice and collective wisdom, participants will find ways into new relationships with these places and parts, turning hidden secrets into stories.

Sunday (November 12), 12-1:30 pm. 562 Church. $10, or free with festival pass.

Feelings, with Alok Vaid-Menon

How many of us have relied on theory to legitimize our feelings? How many big words have we developed to keep from saying, “I’m scared?” What happens when we recognize feelings are valid unto themselves? Vaid-Menon uses power and vulnerability in their practice as a gender-non-conforming performance artist, writer, educator and entertainer.

Sunday (November 12), 2-3:15 pm. 562 Church. $15, or free with festival pass.



If you can attend only one reading at Naked Heart, this should be it. Bricolage means “to create something from a diverse range of available things,” and this event includes a range of voices: Canadian trans lit darlings Casey Plett and Jia Qing Wilson-Yang, academic Faye Chisholm Guenther and comedian Michaela Washburn, among others. These writers represent an increasingly diversifying Can Lit community whose stories come from a place of intersectionality.

Saturday (November 11), 7-8:30 pm. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander). $5, or free with festival pass.

Racialized Is A Verb: A Night Of QTPOC Readings

This showcase of less well-known POC writers includes creative coach and tarot reader Shaunga Tagore, academic and artist Tara Atluri, filmmaker Omar Ramirez, refugee-rights activist Ahmad Danny Ramadan, as well as Steven Sanchez, Natalie Wee and Sanchari Sur. Drawing from their diverse practices, the writers will discuss diaspora, migration and racialization.

Sunday (November 12), 7-8:15 pm. Glad Day Bookshop. $5, or free with festival pass.

Blazing Femme

Naked Heart comes to a fiery close: with 10 radical, queer, femme writers including Alok Vaid-Menon, Arielle Twist, Clementine Morrigan, Jody Chan, Kai Cheng Thom, Kama La MacKerel and others. Expect spoken word, poetry and fiction that captures what it means to be femme in 2017.

Sunday (November 12), 8:30-10:15 pm. Glad Day Bookshop. $5, or free with festival pass.

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