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Confessions of an Enthusiastic Yet Reluctant TV Host

The host of Unicorns.LIVE’s QUSIC reflects on the journey thus far, and where he hopes the show will go…

Here we are — the middle of October 2020 already, and just about at the end of the first season of QUSIC. It’s safe to say that none of us expected this year to turn out the way it has; life in 2020 has really become synonymous with that old gem “rolling with the punches”. When I look back on what has been an extremely challenging year, I have to say that hosting QUSIC has certainly been one of the highlights. 

When QUSIC was first proposed, I was ecstatic. The opportunity to work with and promote the talents of LGBT2Q+ musicians was incredibly appealing, and hot off the heels of several very successful Peak Pride events I was basking in the after-glow of being surrounded by other queer folx as well as incredibly supportive allies. The overall concept of QUSIC is absolute genius: if you’re as yet unfamiliar with what the show is about, here are the historical details…  

QUSIC is a new LGBT2Q+ Artist Music Series, in which all presenting artists identify under the LGBT2Q+ spectrum. QUSIC celebrates the LGBT2Q+ community, which includes individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit as well as a range of other gender and sexual identities. The show features solo performers, duos or group acts, provided that the majority of the band and the headlining artist identifies as LGBTQ2+. QUSIC has been streaming live on Unicorns.LIVE (watch.unicorns.live) every second Wednesday at 7:00 pm (PST) since May 27, 2020 with episodes available to subscribers to the streaming platform after they air. 

This, however, was not always the plan: enter COVID-19, stage right…

As is the case for all of us on Planet Earth 2020, the pandemic brought everything to a screeching halt. For us at Rebellious Unicorns Production Company Inc.  (aka, RUPC, the company behind QUSIC and Unicorns.LIVE) every project we were working on was disrupted, put on hold, or had to be reimagined. Luckily, we were able to make some tasty lemonade out of the rotten, shitty batch of lemons the Universe had just handed us.

“What now? What do we do? How do we make sure these artists are getting paid? How do we get their music out to the intended audience? What does the show even look like?” These were among myriad questions that dominated our conversations. QUSIC, which was meant to be a multi-city performance opportunity for LGBT2Q+ musicians, suddenly became something very different than how it was originally conceived. And yet, it was somehow perfect for the strange world we suddenly found ourselves in. 

To be honest, it took a bit of courage for me to outright ask for the hosting job. Despite how I may sometimes come across to people who watch the show, I don’t enjoy the spotlight. I’d rather be a facilitator in helping others tell their stories, putting the details together, or assisting others along the way during their journey to wherever they’re headed. Given the situation, I knew I had the chops for the gig — I started a career in broadcasting when I was just 19 years old. While I haven’t worked exclusively in this field, I’m blessed with the ability to connect and converse with others quite easily and enjoyably. 

One of my greatest joys as host of QUSIC has been connecting with the artists, getting to know them and their music, and becoming a fan of their work.

It has been an absolute privilege to interview every single one of our guests, and then sit back and listen/watch them express exactly what they need to in that moment. I’ve sometimes been brought to tears (happy or sad); listened to the stories of how they express themselves through song; learned about other sexual and gender identities; and I’ve been forced to examine the relationship with my own queerness. I’ve been given this incredible opportunity to become a part of these people’s stories, and their music has completely enriched my life. This I know unequivocally. 

And yet, a degree of frustration exists. I find myself becoming so angry with current musical content because everything sounds irritatingly familiar, like it’s all been done before. So much of what I hear or see in pop media has just become regurgitated and rebooted bullshit. I love a good remix or a solid cover, but for the love of all that is holy: where is the originality?Where are the new voices? Where are the stories that we can connect with and move us to think and feel and evolve? QUSIC — that’s where. It might not be the entire answer, but it’s certainly a major part of it. When I’ve had the privilege of watching those who have performed on QUSIC, I’ve quite often asked myself, “Why does the world not know more of you?”. 

Let me be clear: this is not a broad criticism of everything that becomes widely popular, and I’ve not calling for an all-out queer takeover of the music industry. But the time is nigh for queer artists producing original, musical content to have their moment. Not all stories that need to be told are straight, white, male, and cis-gender. I’m so incredibly passionate about what I do with QUSIC because, from what I’ve been exposed to thus far in my journey with QUSIC, there are many tales (IMHO) that more people in general should be listening to and learning from. Music is music is music. As humans, we have been gifted the ability to create this wondrous artform that allows us to express so many thoughts and feelings, at times even empowering disenfranchised groups in society to bring about change. And, sometimes, maybe that wondrous artform just allows us to enjoy love for the sake of love, or experience anguish because it hurts…because we are all human. 

We’ve come a long way since debuting this show in May 2020 during a pandemic. I’m so grateful to the team I work with to create this project, and I can’t wait to discover what we have in store for the next series. QUSIC, like life, is a work in progress. Moving forward, I’d really like to see this show become a true vehicle for emerging artists’ careers, a place where past guests feel they want to return to, and a platform that attracts established artists to share their stories and songs. I’ve already been so impressed with the calibre of talent we’ve hosted during Season One; I’d really like to see QUSIC become an entity that enters the conversation in the music world and in the larger community. Season One is winding down, but I hope the audiences, viewers, and the artists (the reason we do this in the first place) are ready to strap in alongside me for the musical rollercoaster ride that is yet to begin. 

QUSIC will air three more regular season episodes through mid-November on select Wednesdays at 7:00 pm (PST); on October 14, October 28, and November 18, 2020. A special Season Finale is in the works for December; stay tuned for details.

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October is Small Business Month.

Kelowna LGBT directory offering a special discount on business listings for the month of October.

Sign up your LGBT owned or allied business for a listing on Kelowna.LGBT. Gain access to the steadily increasing traffic visiting the Kelowna.LGBT website. Our site sees 1400 individual users/month increasing by a steady 13% every month.

For the month of October we’re offering 15% off our listing fee by using the code SmallBusiness2020.

Sign up today or learn more on Kelowna.LGBT

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. 

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Tree hugger at heart. 💕

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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

TD Bank Offering a Planning for the Future Webinar

Now would be an opportune time for self-reflection and taking proactive steps to protect what really matters to you and plan for the future.

Planning for the Future: A Financial Confidence Checkup!

Host: Kim Parlee, VP TD Wealth
Panelists: Beata Caranci, Chief Economist, TD Bank

Al Ramsay, AVP, Sales and Strategy & Head LGBTQ2+ Business Development, TD Wealth

Chris Gandhu, Vice President, High Net Worth Planning, TD Wealth

Date: September 23rd

Time: 12:00pm-1:30pm EST

Location: Online

RSVP for the webinar

TD Bank is a proud supporter of Rebellious Unicorns The MX and Pride Celebrations across Canada
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Welcome Sweetnam’s Nik Naks to Kelowna.LGBT

“Your little bit of everything store”, part-owned by an LGBT2Q+ person has joined the Kelowna LGBT directory.

Help Support the BC Children’s Hospital

At Sweetnam’s Nik Naks we are proud to support the BC Children’s Hospital through Extra Life for Kids. Click the link below to help us raise funds for the hospital, or come into the store to purchase a Milka Chocolate bar and we will donate .50 cents from each Milka sold, to help support this Fantastic cause 🙂


View Sweetnam’s Nik Naks’s Kelowna.LGBT directory listing.

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