With a line of people wrapped around the block in increasingly chilly weather, it was easy to catch snippets of why fans were there to see the Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-winning creator of Transparent, Jill Soloway.
"Saved my life" and "hero" could be heard more than once.
Held in the auditorium of the Chicago Waldorf School, 5200 N. Ashland Ave., on Oct. 18with Women & Children First bookstore as the sponsorSoloway's event for their book, She Wants It: Desire, Power and Toppling the Patriarchy featured the delightful Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby ( Netflix's Nanette ) as moderator.
While Soloway did read an engaging passage from their book, a fierce feminist manifesto focusing on their journey to self, what could have been a traditional book reading turned into more of an interactive variety show. The event featured Soloway's sister Faith on the keyboard for timely musical punctuations, their mother Elaine having an all-in-good-fun feminist debate with local intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis, and Claudia Martinez, Annoyance Theatre ensemble member, taking on additional emcee responsibilities.
In addition to discussing Soloway's transition from identifying as straight to non-binary and gender non-conforming, the rest of the night's conversation ran the gamut. Whether it was heteronormative conditioning during puberty, announcements about the next season of Transparent, having imposter syndrome, subverting the male gaze in TV and film, reminiscing to Cheap Trick lyrics, or achieving equity in Hollywood through an intersectional power movement that Soloway co-founded ( 5050 by 2020 ), the audience was ever-willing to participate, calling out any accidental misuse of pronouns throughout.
Copies of Soloway's book could be purchased outside of the auditorium, in addition to copies of their mother Elaine's novels, and attendees could also donate to the Intersex Justice Project and pick up branded merchandise.
With Soloway signing books and taking pictures at the end of the night, more common themes emerged: a lot of "I'm so gratefuls" in heartfelt stories from those in line and "I remember yous" from Soloway, who had quite a few tear-filled reunions with old Chicago-area friends and loved ones. Everyone had a story, and Soloway seemed genuinely intent on listening to each and every one.
Jill Soloway's She Wants It, published by Crown Archetype, is now available for purchase. Learn more about 5050 by 2020 at 5050by2020.com, and about The Intersex Justice Project at IntersexJusticeProject.org .