Blurring the Binary: David Bowie, Queer Activism, and the Lipstick Movement

    Yesterday, I sat down with Women and Gender’s studies student Aly Cameron to discuss the Gender and Women’s Studies Alliance (GWSA), Gender Performativity Awareness Week (G-PAW), and their upcoming David Bowie themed social. This group of students, mostly hailing from the gender studies department, was formed at Brandon University this year and have already been involved in many events both in the university, and out in the community.

    Aly and I started our discussion by talking about the Brandon queer activism scene overall. In my limited experience I could not tell if the community was rapidly growing, or if I was just becoming more aware of the events going on on around town with more progressive slants. According to Aly it is probably a bit of both, there has always been a bit of a “underground” activist community in Brandon, the events they host can just be difficult to find at times. 

    Relatively new additions to the community such as Dr. Corinne Mason of the Gender and Women’s studies and Sociology departments at BU, and Rune Breckon the LGBT Program Facilitator at SERC are attempting to reverse this, and have been doing great work to bring awareness to and making LGBTQA issues more accessible in small town Brandon. The GWSA hopes to be the student ambassadors for this activist scene.

    There are two main parts to the G-PAW week we are in the midst of. Today, the alliance is kicking off a social media campaign, the #Lipsticklove movement. This movement, brain child of the alliance’s president Teague Luhr, is based on self-love, and will be active at GWSA’s ticket booth. Members of the alliance will be encouraging people to don lipstick for the day, regardless of gender. This is meant to be a way to break down barriers, in a fun and simple rebellion against the rigid gender binary. 

    This Friday, the “Blurring the Binary” David Bowie tribute social will be taking place in the basement of the double decker. A location Aly promises will have some “very good vibes”.

The purpose of the Bowie social is to “open up a dialogue within the community” as well as to “celebrate diversity, and self-love of all regardless of gender expression”. One recurring theme in our conversation was how do these ideas transfer between spaces; from the university to the community, from a gender studies department to the public at large. In short, how do you take the ideas of academics such as Judith Butler, and make them accessible and fun for a general audience. 

    To Aly, David Bowie was very important to the modern queer community because of the way he “broke down gender norms” in both his appearance and presentation in public. Prominent non-binary musicians such as Rae Spoon weighed in this January to celebrate his life, and importance to their early identity formation. It is quite fitting then, that a social in Bowie’s honour, also functions as a cap to a week full of festivities that celebrate non-conforming, non-binary gender identities.

    Musical entertainment will be provided by DJ B Zwax (aka Blake Hamilton the local Community Gardener). There will gender neutral washrooms, pool/foosball, and a best Bowie costume contest. $5 from the GWSA’s table, or $6 at the door.

'Fired' Is Fired Up and Serving Great Pizza!

Brandon is home to so much great pizza, we could be called Manitoba's Little Italy. We're not though. No one calls us that. But we could be! 

Today, I went for a bite to eat at the new pizza place on Victoria Ave., 'Fired'. Hoping to crack the pizza market in Brandon by offering something a little different; 'Fired' is serving up great wood-fired pizza and street food fair.

Right away I was pleased to see that they did a great job redecorating and branding. Brick and wood were the theme for the little shop, with branding that invoked a fire-y street fair vibe.

I loved how the wood for the oven was right out in the open. It was cool to see the chefs grabbing wood right from the front of the shop. In an interview with the Westman Journal, owner Jamie Munro said he wanted to take 'pizza back to its roots', and having the wood out front certainly helps with the authentic atmosphere.

As far as food goes, I had the OMG!, and I have to say it lived up to it's name. Topped with mozzarella, roasted red pepper, sundried tomato, fresh basil, banana pepper, cured pepperoni, red onion, and feta cheese, the crust melted nicely in my mouth and overall I had a great pizza experience. 

I was impressed by the extent of their menu! 9 'Street Food' items from burritos to mac n cheese. 6 'Fresh Concept' dishes including trendy baja pickerel tacos, rice bowls, and salads. 10 extremely diverse appetizers. And of course 16 different, creative pizzas. 41 menu items and they offer gluten free options. Very impressive for their relatively small storefront! If everything on the menu is as good as the pizza, you bet I'll be back.

It's always great to see more local business in Brandon and I wish these guys and gals the best! So far they're doing everything right - great food, friendly staff, all day delivery - so now all they need is for you to get out an eat some pizza! I'm sure you won't take much convincing.