Arts & Entertainment
1 min

Ginger quest

Shawn Hitchins spreads his gay genes at Buddies in Bad Times

Shawn Hitchins Credit: Jen Squires

How do gay men make babies? That’s one of the questions Shawn Hitchins sets out to answer in his solo show Ginger Nation. “That conversation isn’t happening,” Hitchins says. “Or if it is, it’s happening in a very middle-class, upper-class perspective with sperm donors; it’s not the bare-bones, at-home, in-the-bathroom making babies.” For Hitchins, helping a lesbian couple he was friends with conceive meant going DIY (or as DIY as you can get without actually putting a penis in a vagina). After a few months of lending his friends samples of his precious ginger DNA, they successfully made a baby in the bathroom. “I never really wanted to have a family or have a kid,” he admits, “but I managed to do it in a really queer way that doesn’t compromise my beliefs, the core of who I am or my lifestyle.”

Ginger Nation, which tells the story of Hitchins’s journey to pseudo-fatherhood (and quest to repopulate Earth with redheads), certainly isn’t the first solo performance he’s done in Toronto. But it is the first to be a hit before it’s even opened. In 2013, Ginger Nation had its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe, where it received an almost unheard-of amount of media coverage. “It was almost 50 shows in 30 days,” Hitchins says, “and then all the media stuff, which was unprecedented. Nobody has hit that festival as hard as I hit it; I kinda broke the festival.”

Ginger Nation is clearly a watershed show for Hitchins — he’s currently working on both a televised version of the performance and a book. But you won’t find any butterflies in his stomach. “I’m actually excited because it’s one of the first times I’m not worried about the material,” he says. “I’ve taken it to the harshest environment you can take it to, and it’s survived and thrived. To get a compliment from a Scottish audience is pretty impressive.”