S. Bear Bergman | FAQ
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Is Bear your real name?

Yes. Also my middle name.

Which pronouns and signifiers do you prefer?

I prefer masculine pronouns (he, him, his) and male signifiers – Mister, Sir, etcetera – when being addressed.

Wait, I thought you were Mister Gender-Nonspecific Pronouns Person?

I was. I carried that banner for ten years in my public/professional life, because I thought I could make more space in the world for the gender-nonspecific pronouns ze and hir. But ultimately, two things changed: one, my actual lived experience moved me way out of gender-nonspecific-pronoun-land and two, it seems like language is moving toward adopting the singular they, much more than ze and hir. So I am putting that banner down and devoting my energy to different language issues around sex and gender, like getting people to understand that they’re not the same thing.

I would like you to come to my school/festival/conference/event/staff meeting/something else. How do I go about that?

The first step is to email booking [at] sbearbergman [dot] com and give a short description of what it is you’d like me to do: performance, lecture, workshop, reading, training, or some combination thereof. You should also go ahead and ask any specific questions at that time. The nice booking folks will then get back to you with options and details.

My group/location doesn't really have a lot of money. Will you come for cheap/free?

It’s not out of the question. The odds are better if you keep an eye on my tour schedule and catch me when I’ll be nearby. There are lots of creative ways to reduce costs, and we have a small scholarship fund, provided by very generous private donors, to help with some of those cases. Also, I am well known to be exceptionally softhearted. Write to booking [at] sbearbergman [dot] com and explain your situation; we’ll see what we can do for you.

How long are the shows? How about the lectures?

A storytelling performance is usually about 90 minutes, in two sets with an intermission; whereas most lectures are designed to be an hour. Q&A afterwards will tend to add about 30 more minutes, generally.

What kinds of places do you usually go?

Colleges and universities, youth groups, conferences, companies, and community or cultural organizations account for most of my work. I also consult or have consulted with government agencies, including police departments, human rights ombuds offices, and similar.

Is your performance appropriate for my parents? My children?

Probably. To some degree the organizers set the tone for the evening, and I am comfortable talking about sex and sexuality (and with sexually explicit material) – if they ask me to work blue, I will. But in general, I don’t perform that work at public shows, only at private house concerts called Speakeasies which are more informal (if you’d like to host a Speakeasy, let us know at the booking email address) and usually more racy. Most of the time, my public performances are appropriate for anyone who can sit still, relatively quietly, for 90 minutes of performance.

It's very hard to get into a theatre here. Can you perform in some other kind of space? What are your technical requirements?

A theatre is nice, but a lecture hall or multipurpose room can work fine. The space must be wheelchair accessible, and I strongly prefer accessible rooms in which there are multiple seating options for wheeled audience members and their companions.

Can you do an LGBT 101 lecture/discussion? A Trans 101 lecture/discussion?

Oh, yes. These can be as short as ninety minutes or as long as three hours. Two hours or longer is ideal, as I prefer to leave plenty of time for questions. These sessions can also be structured for students, faculty members, staff, residence life, health services, public safety, athletics, or any other group. Check out the Lectures section for more information.

I have an event coming up very soon. Is it too late to book you?

Maybe, maybe not. If it’s October, November, or April, the odds are less good. Distance and mode of travel are also a factor. But email the booking people (booking [at] sbearbergman [dot] com) and ask anyway – if I’m free, I’ll do it. In general, try to get in touch no less than four months ahead of time. That gives us the most flexibility in terms of finding the best travel arrangements, and setting up tours to lower your costs.

Speaking of costs...how much?

It really varies. Anywhere from free to $7000, depending on what you’re wanting me to do, where and for how long. Email and let us know what you’re thinking; they’ll be able to give you a ballpark figure. Whatever you do, don’t assume you can’t afford it. You just never know.

I want to bring you to my school but my administration is less than thrilled. How can I go about convincing them?

There are some standard things that tend to work: talking about “making the school a safe space for GLBT students by creating opportunities for cultural understanding” is often successful. Doing an end run around the administrators and sponsoring it through the psychology or sociology or Women’s/Gender Studies or theater department (yes, I will address classes) seems to work. Pointing out that my work is currently taught at several dozen colleges and universities sometimes helps, I hear.

Would you consider reading my work and telling me what you think?

I would love to. Unfortunately, I have to do my own writing and editing, and then the reading and editing I have promised to my friends and wonderful colleagues in return for their help on whatever my last project was. But perhaps a local writing group or class would be a good place to get feedback?

Who do you like to read/listen to when you have spare time?

When I have what? Oh, right. On gender topics, Kate Bornstein, Hanne Blank, Scott Turner Schofield, Ivan E. Coyote, and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. The folks at autostraddle.com and prettyqueer.com put together some thoughtful writing about queer and trans topics. I also read a lot of nonfiction, short stories and – currently – young adult novels as I prepare to launch into writing one myself.

Are you married? Do you have children?

I am married to the brilliant and very charming educator and activist j wallace skelton, and we have three children. I also continue to be most blessed to have the care and companionship and daily trust of some truly extraordinary friends and lovers.

Where do you live?

For most of my life, the answer was Massachusetts. These days, for reasons relating to the question above, Toronto, Ontario.

What bathroom do you use?

Why, were you hoping we could slip in there together?

Okay, enough fancy talk. Are you a man or a woman, really?


Is the glass half-empty, or half-full?

Depends on how thirsty you are.