Queer Things to Do: Attend a Leather Pageant, See Jonathan Van Ness, Go Roller Skating in Costume

Sarah Bricker Hunt

October is filled with fall delights, from crunchy leaves to orange-y … sights? Look, you didn’t come here for the poetry. Get out and experience Michigan in all its golden-hued glory (before those pretty leaves fall and the nine-month winter envelops us all). Whether you’ve been dreaming of serving your best Leather Daddy look on a stage somewhere, can’t pass up the chance to see the beauty that is Jonathan Van Ness in person or just need a little inspiration in the form of unique art, there’s something here for you, boo.

1. Spend a Weekend in Leather Heaven

handsome man dressed in black leather in watercolor style

Ah, leather. Even the cows might agree that there’s something inherently sexy about the fabric and the fashions it inspires. Michigan Leather Pride Weekend is your chance to revel in the scene as competitors vie for titles like Michigan Community Bootblack, Ms. and Mx. Michigan Leather Pride, Michigan Leather Pride Boy and Michigan Leather Pride Sir. Attendees can eat, drink and luxuriate in leather all weekend long — and don’t miss the Victory Dungeon Party on Friday night. The event is gender-inclusive and welcomes people of all sexual identities.

Contestants can enter through midnight, Oct. 13 at

The event takes place Oct. 21-23 at Olympus Hall (940 W. McNichols, Detroit).

2. Get Happy Watching Jonathan Van Ness Jump Around 

The world can be a hard place to live lately, but a little Jonathan Van Ness in your life can make all the difference. Nonbinary hero and amateur gymnast Van Ness will bring their “Imaginary Living Room Olympian” comedy tour to the Masonic Temple Theatre Oct. 15, and frankly, it would be an act of self-love to get yourself a ticket right this minute. JVN is one of those people who emanates queer joy and hope from every earnest pore — so much so that they’ll gladly expose, on stage, their vulnerability for us. Fully. Like one-piece leotard fully. We don’t deserve them, which is why we must support them.

Tickets available at

3. Catch a Meaningful Queer Art Exhibit 

Screen Shot 2022-10-05 at 6.46.46 PM

Michigan artist John Gutoskey tells us his new exhibit, “Cake & Flowers For My People,” on display at Gallery 22 North in Ypsilanti, is a “rainbow explosion of color and sparkle,” which is enough to pique the interest of many an art-loving queer. But the deeper meaning behind the show will certainly seal the deal: “These artworks were made in honor of marriage equality and queer relationships and are dedicated to any members of the LGBTQ+ community who have been discriminated against by a florist or bakery for ‘religious convictions,’” Gutoskey’s artist statement for the show reads. “These prints of bouquets and cake sculptures will never fade or get stale like the real things.”

Learn more about the exhibit, which runs through Oct. 30, at

4. Help Get Out the Vote.

With early voting in full swing, it’s time to get your voting plan in place and to encourage those around you to participate in the democratic process. Here are three things you can do today to help protect queer rights, reproductive freedoms and our electoral system:

  1. Check out Pride Source’s extensive election coverage for details about state issues and queer candidates and get your sample ballot at
  2. Encourage your social media followers to check their voting registration at and to make a plan to vote. Offer to drive people to the polls if you can.
  3. Donate to a candidate running for local office (every dollar counts).

Election day is Nov. 8; early voting is happening now.

5. Get Your Halloween on (...on Wheels)

This one’s a little further out, but we wouldn’t want you to miss it because, well, who doesn’t love a Halloween skate?. Do the spookiest of all holidays on wheels this year at the Queertastic Halloween Skate Party Oct. 28 at Royal Skateland in Detroit. If there was ever an occasion for a costume involving a cape, this has to be it. Imagine how resplendent you’ll be, rolling around the rink, billowing cape behind you. It’s the stuff of Instagram dreams. Proceeds will help to support an LGBTQ-affiliated family during the holiday season.

More information and advance tickets available at


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