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Blood, Marriage, Wine, & Glitter

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  182 ratings  ·  28 reviews
S. Bear Bergman is an acclaimed writer and lecturer who travels regularly across North America to speak on trans issues. Bear’s first two books, Butch Is a Noun and The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, are considered seminal texts on the subject of trans life. In his third essay collection, Bear enters, describes, and rearranges our ideas about family as a daughter, husband ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Arsenal Pulp Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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4.21  · 
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 ·  182 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Jackie B
Dec 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I liked this book for the most part. As another reader suggested, Bear writes about hir family and support networks and how ze treasures and maintains the relationships in hir life. It was really great to read about queer family, in all of its manifestations. There was one part that soured the book for me - when Bear wrote about how, as a young queer, ze had difficulty relating and talking to hit family of origin, and said that it was a similar to the cultural isolation that transracial adoptees ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of well-written, down-to-earth essays, mostly about expanding and reclaiming the term family. There were some really moving pieces about his son, husband, friends, family of origin, religious community, ex-lovers, and everyone else Bear has claimed for family. Although the book does address some tough issues, over all it's pretty heart-warming. I think this quality can't be understated, as cheesy as it might sound. Bear writes about being taught by society th ...more
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, lgbtqi
An engaging, thoughtful reflection on parenting, family (in all kinds of ways), faith and tradition. Recommended for individual, book group, or small group reading. S. Bear Bergman is a wonderful storyteller, sharing his life stories from a Jewish transgender perspective, offering a window of affirmation for those seeking others like themselves and a doorway to understanding for others seeking that. Mostly, though, it is happifying to read about someone actively creating happiness and working to ...more
G.K. Hansen
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book makes me weepy in the best kind of way; it gives a kind of fierce bouncy hope and positivity about creating queer families. I wish this book had been around when I was just coming out and my mother and my brain were making concerned noises because they didn't know any gay, never mind queer, families; I am glad it is out now, when so many of the people in my life including me are queer or trans or nonbinary. As with all Bear's books it often feels lifesaving, and always feel validating ...more
Fred Langridge
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, queer, trans
I love this collection of tender and joyful reflections on the making of family as a trans, queer, polyamorous and religious person. Each looks from a different angle at Bergman's experience of family - with his son and husband, his family of origin and all the other people who accumulate as family along the way. This book sounds lots of echoes in my life.
I wasn't nearly as impressed by this book as by Bear's others. That may well have to do with my stage of life, more than the quality of the book, but still. I found it boring, pompous, self-aggrandizing, and repetitive. There were a few bizarre and offensive moments, as well: the patronizing edge to the essay about femmes; the expectation, unexplained and undefended, that Bear's kid will have kids of his own; the way that after writing an entire book about different kinds of family, Bear literal ...more
Oct 22, 2013 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. Written by an intimidating-looking person who absolutely redefines every typical gender role. And then the writer's husband has a baby named Stanley. Meanwhile other lovers are possibly happening. If this book is supposed to encourage conservative-thinking people to embrace those with different lifestyle choices . . . I don't think it succeeds. If it was intended to push at readers' emotional comfort zones, then yes, success!
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Tender and a bit saccharine, real and a bit over-the-top. I enjoyed Bergman's writing on relationships, Judaism, and the making of family and self.

As was affirmed by others in my queer book club - it can often be bittersweet to read about the beautiful building of queer community when it has felt more difficult or different in one's own experience.
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lovely. I read this book of essays in two days and it made me feel incredibly tender towards the whole world. Bergman's love and openness are so clearly written, despite the machinations and power structures that force queer and trans folks into closets. A beautiful meditation on "constellations" of family, Jewish identity, and queer love. Recommended.
Danni Green
I had a huge grin plastered across my face the entire time I was reading this book. It was everything I could possibly have needed from a book at this moment in time. It left me feeling better and more hopeful about being a human and existing amongst other humans, about love and connection in this fucked up world. I loved this book so much and I want to hug it forever.
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
An enjoyable read, as always. It wasn't as life changing as it used to be when I was coming out as queer/trans, which is ok.
Jun 18, 2019 marked it as to-read
Included in a blog post and resource list at
Jun 16, 2019 rated it liked it
IThe 1st time I read this I gave it 5 stars, it was something I really needed 5 years, still a good read. Cute book to finish on Father's Day.
Lori Beth Bisbey
Loved the authentic down to earth approach that S Bear Bergman takes throughout and the transparency with their process of transformation. It is an easy enjoyable read.
Leigh Anne
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's a family affair, and you're all invited.

Bergman's collection of essays will spark either recognition and/or hope in you, depending on how much of a kinship web you've currently got. Beginning with the conception and birth of his son, Bergman spins a series of tales about the many ways people can be connected to each other and love each other, only a few of which involve sharing DNA. Bergman has a seemingly boundless heart: he's loved a lot of people, and keeps space for them in his heart an
Lisa Eckstein
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
This is S. Bear Bergman's third collection of personal essays, and like the first two, it offers a look at what's currently occupying his life and mind. These days, as the father of a preschooler, Bergman is thinking a lot about family, and the beautiful essays in this book tell all kinds of stories that celebrate all kinds of families. Bergman's perspective on family life is shaped by his experience with being trans, Jewish, an activist, and a hopeless romantic, but the essays address the unive ...more
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a really beautiful collection of essays about queer family, queer parenting, and intimacy, in myriad forms. What I loved most about it was how hopeful, tender, optimistic, big-hearted, and open it was. It was purely a book about the the deep and abiding love that Bergman has for his queer family, and all the various ways that manifests. It was not a breezy read, necessarily--because family, and parenting, and partnership is complex and often messy, and there were surely pieces in here t ...more
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grsm-books
This is arguably my favorite of Bergman's wonderful set of books. Here he wove together everything that I love about "family", for every definition of that word. His beautifully and authentically written essays made me laugh, cry, and smile in recognition in turn as he told stories of his own various families and how they relate and intersect throughout his life. Bergman's books are often advertised as "LGBT literature", and he is no doubt every bit as unashamedly queer as I myself am. But, I fu ...more
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book explores queer/trans/polyamorous/other-nontraditional family structure. It sometimes tends a little sappy for me, but that's because the author is happy and unashamed with the way they've navigated their extended chosen family. Besides, I can forgive sometimes sappy for generally incisive. The chapters are nice and short and the tone is accessible, non-academic or preachy. I would add the caveat that its basically written for a queer audience, or at furthest out, people who have queers ...more
George Ilsley
Jan 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: gay, memoir, non-fiction, glbt
Another collection by Bergman that has the feel of being a desk-cleaner. Some of the pieces towards the end dragged the tone of the collection down. Bergman also has the habit of announcing what someone is thinking. In fact, we do not know what people are thinking. I also needed more guidance when Hebrew terms were being used. Not everyone is totally familiar with Jewish culture, so this reader was lost. Overall, this collection is best dipped into, instead of trying to read it through cover to ...more
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I stumbled on this book by accident following the links in a feminist news digest email, and I’m glad I did. Bergman has a clever way of explaining our relationships to each other, and his descriptions of family life and friendships are full of warmth and humour. Bergman is an LGBTQ activist but I think people who love words and also over-analyzing things will enjoy this book regardless of how they play the gender game. It’s full of human need and attachment, all of the ways we’re more alike tha ...more
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable and interesting read. There's a lot of great stuff about family (chosen and biological, though Bergman points out in the title that there are many things that bind people together beyond simple choice or biology) here, and Bergman is pretty eloquent on the subject. Definitely worth a read if you're interested in queer family, particularly queer parenting, but I think there's something here for everyone. Might also be a good read for some straight parents of queer and/or tra ...more
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I didn't really know what to expect because I didn't really know this author (I'm pretty much reading everything my roommate didn't put away in her bookshelves before going away on a trip, haha). I really loved these essays, and many of them made me really emotional. I'm really looking forward to read Butch is a noun, now!
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
heartwarming. intimate. funny. smart.
Janet Masonberg
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Sep 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: queer, trans-gender
I find S. Bear Bergman's style really grating and the things he has to say not terribly interesting.
David Messier
Nov 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very well written and entertaining book.
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Apr 09, 2018
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Erica McDowell
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Sep 25, 2016
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S. Bear Bergman is a storyteller, a theater artist, an instigator, a gender-jammer, and a good example of what happens when you overeducate a contrarian. Ze is the author of Butch Is a Noun (reissued with a new foreword by Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010) and Lambda Literary Award-finalist The Nearest Exit May be Behind You (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009) as well as the editor (with the inimitable Kate Bornst ...more
“Glitter family is my long-time favourite term for this: the people who those of us pushed to society’s margins (and beyond) make our cohort. Glitter is known to be shiny and unruly, easy to get and hard to be rid of. I love the drag connotations and the femme visibility of it, as well as its unmistakably queer sensibility—look only as far as glitter-bombing for proof that nothing is as thoroughly and satisfyingly queer as glitter.” 3 likes
“I live in a constellation of intimates, and the shape of us is a family. We touch base and check in, with each other and also—I am so gratified to report—they sometimes check in with one another. Correspondences have sprung up and friendships have started to form beyond my influence. Family has begun to take on a transitive property as well.” 2 likes
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