• The Best Resource for Events in Kelowna, BC & the Okanagan and Your Source for LGBT2Q+ News

Category Archives: Kelowna.LGBT

BUILDING STRONG COMMUNITIES WITH DUSTYN BAULKHAM, FOUNDER OF REBELLIOUS UNICORNS

Rebellious Unicorns Production Company is a Kelowna-based event company focused on creating unique experiences to build stronger communities.

This summer, Rebellious Unicorns launched QUSIC, Kelowna’s first LGBTQ2+ programming featuring emerging musicians coming out and onto the B.C.’s music scene. The livestream series highlights emerging LGBT2Q+ artists in concert, along with an intimate conversation with the artist. Dustyn Baulkham is leading the way with the LGBTQ2+ community in Kelowna, creating inclusive spaces for LGBTQ2+ artists. We spoke with Dustyn about QUSIC and the importance of online communities during the pandemic.

BC Creates

To read more of this story, follow the link to BC Creates


(Image Credit: BC Creates)

Leigh Jarrett: Reinvigorating Romantic Fiction


So Long, Fabio:
Leigh Jarrett is serving up Queer Romantic Fiction for a New Audience With an Insatiable Appetite.


Traditional Romantic Fiction tends to conjure up the same image: yellowed and water-stained paperback novels, the covers of which feature The Bronzed and Chiseled Male Figure clutching in his bulging half-human/half-simian arms The Swept Away Female Figure. Her ample, milky white bosoms are so dangerously close to tumbling out of the torn bed sheet she’s haphazardly thrown on; her breasts glow and heave, as the Male’s throbbing manhood is undoubtedly pressed fervently against her hungry mound. The Male, who oozes testosterone and a litany of other injectables, gazes intensely at his Female prize, whose face wears a mask of mid-orgasm-delirium meets a did-I-leave-the-oven-on? look of confusion and fear (lest she burn the meatloaf). 

As surely as this trope persists, it’s refreshing to know that the genre is enjoying a breath of fresh, queer air thanks to literary minds like those of Taysha Jarrett. This is not your Aunt Martha’s Romantic Fiction. Then again, maybe it should be?  

Taysha Jarrett (she/he/they), who publishes under the nom de plume ‘Leigh Jarrett’, began writing Romantic Fiction for the LGBT2Q+ community 10 years ago. An unabashedly queer, quirky, and passionate author of LGBT2Q+ Romantic Fiction, her books embrace the full spectrum of the rainbow. Taysha’s published contemporary works include gritty and angst-filled romances featuring gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer characters, with plans for a lesbian romance in the future. And her fantasy series, “Drakkar Coven”, is brimming with lust driven vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters. 

View this post on Instagram

Tree hugger at heart. 💕

A post shared by Leigh Jarrett (@author.leighjarrett) on

Using a pseudonym isn’t unusual for authors; in Taysha’s case, however, there were some personal and maternal concerns about writing the type of romantic fiction she began to pen. 

“When I started writing my kids were very young,” explains Jarrett. “I didn’t want the parents of other kids at school to find out what I did for a living.” Taysha was still in a hetero marriage at the time, and even though her then-husband was supportive of her artistic pursuits, the worry was for the welfare of their children. “Kids are bullied enough,” she continues. “It was a non-issue for (my then-spouse), but I didn’t want anything brought down on the kids.” 

Taysha, who is austistic, was bullied as a child for her difference from others. Writing and publishing LGBT2Q+ Romantic Fiction has given her the opportunity to express her uniqueness within the LGBT2Q+ community that she calls home. Her books highlight the struggles of those who identify as LGBT2Q+, while celebrating their diversity and affirming the most basic of human rights: to love and be loved.

In the end, ironically it was their daughter that spilled the beans. Jarrett reveals with a proud laugh, “Yeah, my daughter just kind of ended up telling everyone anyway. Like kind of a ‘hey, guess what my Mom does kind of thing’…and in the end, no one said anything about it.” 

A favourable outcome, to be sure: there wasn’t any backlash, and she nor the children were ostracized. It may now seem like unfounded concern, but queer Romantic Fiction isn’t necessarily as widely known or accepted as it’s cis and hetero predecessor. 

When asked about the main source from which she draws her inspiration for characters and story arcs, Jarrett reveals simply, “From life. I watch interactions between people, observe what they do, where they are doing it…in everyday life…and I wonder ‘What if’.”

Rather than two-dimensional stereotypes, her subjects are also fully realized characters who aren’t solely defined by their sexuality or gender identity, who Jarrett strongly feels have experienced real-life situations as they may relate to those in the LGBT2Q+ community.


Case in point: the inspiration for one of her novels, Shadows On My Soul, came from watching construction workers around town. The creative cogs began turning as she wondered ‘what if’ any of these guys decided they had a ‘thing’ for each other; and, ‘what if’ they began exploring that attraction? And, ‘what if’ one of those men were sexually assaulted by another man? What then? The narrative of Shadows On My Soul follows the story of Derek and Justin, who fall for one another and begin a romance. Derek identifies as gay, while Justin identifies as bisexual; Justin is sexualy assaulted, which leaves the two at odds and leaves the new relationship hanging in the balance as they struggle to deal with the fallout. 

“It’s not widely known, but 1 out of 25 reported rapes are committed against men,” explains Jarrett. “Seventy-five percent of the book sale proceeds went to a sexual assault hotline when it first came out. I had a lot of people buy it but said they wouldn’t read it because it was too triggering.”

Another novel, Simply Marvelous, features a trans character in the lead named Attila. A complex narrative with many storylines, Attila’s tale is full of unease, disquiet and struggle–not unlike that of most people who identify as trans. The tone of Jarrett’s work can, in her words, “sometimes can be angsty…at some point in the story there are challenges that need to be faced and it can get very serious.” 

The queer community has been overall receptive to her work, as she’s received many positive emails from readers and has had inspiring interactions with other queer folx. “Most readers feel they understand and relate to the characters, or say ‘I identify with this person, I know how they feel’,” says Taysha. According to her, the only negative comments are from straight people who say that the situations and storylines are unrealistic, which could be attributed to  a complete misunderstanding of the queer experience rather than unbelievability of the prose. 

Surprisingly, the audience for most gay romance is middle-aged straight women. “I think they got bored with Harlequin and picked up a gay romance to see what was up. They love men — what’s better than two hot men?” she muses. 


Taysha is currently working on the third and final book of the “Drakkar Coven” series, Alexander, Prince of the North, which is set for publication in early October 2020. Intrigue, romance, vampires, wolves and shifters abound, with a conclusion to the saga promising to free the title character from devastating heartache.

While queer storylines are cropping up more and more, Jarrett shares, “I’d definitely like to see more everyday, contemporary romance incorporate queer love, queer characters, and queer stories.” She reiterates, “Maybe not everyone knows that they have these kinds of people in their lives, but LGBT2Q+ people exist! We have real relationships; it’s not always just about sex. These are real feelings, real people, and real love.” 


Aside from ‘Leigh Jarrett’, Taysha also writes under two other pen names: ‘Gavin E. Black’, writer of Hot Gay Erotica with a slice of romance (because every girl needs a naughty alter-ego) and ‘Sara J. Miller’, as she tries her hand at young/new adult fiction with Halo in the Snow, a first-love gay romance.

All of Leigh’s titles are available in digital copy and in paperback from Amazon. For more information, visit www.leighjarrett.com. You can follow her on Instagram @author.leighjarrett, on Twitter @LeighJarrett, and on Facebook @leighjarrett.author; to join her mailing list, click here

lgbt business directory image

LGBT2Q+ Business Directory Promo Has Been Extended

Kelowna.LGBT has a new business directory focused on queer and ally owned businesses that you’ll want to be listed in.

*Register your business or service by September 30, 2020 and use promo code fresh2020 for 20% off your first listing payment. 

The Kelowna.LGBT Business Directory is the Okanagan’s premiere guide to LGBT2Q+ businesses and professional services owned, managed, or provided by members of the LGBT2Q+ community and our allies. Ensure your business or service is widely recognized as friendly to the queer community by securing your listing in the directory!

Increase your visibility by becoming a Featured Listing: you’ll receive additional exposure via a focus article on Kelowna.LGBT (within 4 months of sign up) along with a social media push across several of Rebellious Unicorns’ platforms.*

*Business receives 1 social media mention on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for Kelowna.LGBT. 

Take a look at the directory

lgbt business directory image

New LGBT2Q+ Business Directory

Kelowna.LGBT has a new business directory focused on queer and ally owned businesses that you’ll want to be listed in.

The Kelowna.LGBT Business Directory is the Okanagan’s premiere guide to LGBT2Q+ businesses and professional services owned, managed, or provided by members of the LGBT2Q+ community and our allies. Ensure your business or service is widely recognized as friendly to the queer community by securing your listing in the directory!

Increase your visibility by becoming a Featured Listing: you’ll receive additional exposure via a focus article on Kelowna.LGBT (within 4 months of sign up) along with a social media push across several of Rebellious Unicorns’ platforms.*

Register your business or service by September 7, 2020 and use promo code fresh2020 for 20% off your first listing payment. 

*Business receives 1 social media mention on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for Kelowna.LGBT. 

Take a look at the directory

Get Ready To MX. It Up With Room to Roam!

Summer hasn’t exactly gotten off to the brilliant start we are used to here in the sunny Okanagan. However, it is summer and there are few things better during this time of year than getting together with friends in the evening to mix, mingle, and catch up. Rebellious Unicorns Production Company Inc. is pleased to announce that we’re bringing back the original MX. on Thursday, July 23, 2020! Well, maybe not exactly “The MX. OG”…read on!

We’re thrilled to invite you to join us at Dunnenzie’s Pizza Co. in the Lower Mission (4638 Lakeshore Rd) from 5:30-7:30 pm. We’ll be keeping it social and keeping it safe; physical distancing measures will be in place ‘MXing’ it up with creative ways for everyone to get a chance to meet and make new connections.

Rather than our usual “food station” set-up, Dunnenzie’s (our gracious Host Partner who is providing the snacks and a welcome beverage for all in attendance) will offer a variety of appy plates upon arrival; register, grab your food and a drink, and get mingling! 

Not familiar with The MX.? The MX. was created as an opportunity for the LGBT2Q+ community to network, gather, and socialize. This is also an opportunity to meet like minded people away from those lovely apps. Allies are encouraged to join; the more, the merrier! 

In addition to meeting super fab people, the MX. also fundraises for the Etcetera Youth Group and 100% of the entrance fee will be donated to them. Space is available on a first come first serve basis. Please register in advance so we can let Dunnenzie’s know how much food should be prepared for our guests. Suggested donation for admission is $10 (or $5 for students (19+) with valid student ID).

Dunnenzie’s will also be assisting us in our on-going fundraising efforts for Etcetera by creating a “Mystery Prize Table”. For $20 per ticket, you’ll have the chance to win…something fabulous! Or, something else. Dunnenzie’s generous suppliers and partner merchants will be providing the prizes–what the prizes may be is for us to know and for you to find out!

If you’re planning on joining us, we hope you’ll reach out to some of your friends and work colleagues and consider safe carpooling. Parking at this location can be challenging, and keep in mind that they will be open to the public as well. 

The MX. is presented by TD Bank, and proudly supported by Okanagan Young Professionals Collective, Sarah Sucloy Real Estate, Friends of Dorothy and EzTix.

We look forward to seeing you for our garden party at The MX. on Thursday, July 23, 2020 from 5:30-7:30pm at Dunnenzie’s in the Lower Mission. Questions? Please reach out to Kris Johnson, Manager of Logistics & Partnerships for Rebellious Unicorns Production Company Inc. by email kris@rebelliousunicorns.com

The MX. is held on the unceded, traditional territory of the syilx (Okanagan) people.