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A Brief History of Pink Triangle Press

A look back at the key milestones of this seminal institution of queer advocacy

Pioneering Toronto-based LGBT publisher Pink Triangle Press celebrated its 40th anniversary in October with a big blow-out bash. The milestone was a huge one for both the organization, best known today as the force behind the biweekly Xtra newspaper, and the community it represents. Says Xtra‘s associate publisher and editorial director, Matt Mills, “For anyone who has experienced any sort of discrimination because of their sexual orientation, the press and Xtra and formerly The Body Politic have definitely been places to turn to to do something about that.” Key struggles of ongoing discussion in Xtra‘s pages have included the establishment of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) in high schools and Catholic school defunding, issues of concern this year in the city and province. Torontoist looks back at some of the key events in the history of this seminal institution.

1971 Pink Triangle Press, as we know it today, is born as The Body Politic Collective. It’s first publication, The Body Politic is printed on October 27. Beginning as a quarterly paper in Toronto, The Body Politic‘s genesis follows a series of gay demonstrations in Ottawa’s Parliament Hill and Vancouver’s Robson Square; from the beginning, the paper serves as a mouthpiece for the newly consolidated gay liberation movement.

1975 The Body Politic is incorporated as the not-for-profit Pink Triangle Press. The founding Collective behind The Body Politic will remain Pink Triangle’s governing body for another 11 years.

1978 Pink Triangle Press is charged for publishing “immoral, indecent and scurrilous material” in The Body Politic‘s 39th issue. The case—along with that involving another indecency charge that will follow in 1982—is ultimately won.

1981 In the wake of the Toronto bathhouse raids, The Body Politic becomes a key forum for discussing the raids’ political implications and becomes a regular component of the ensuing rallies, where copies are distributed among the heated crowds.

1984 The Collective launches Xtra as a four-page tabloid, hoping to be an upbeat and reader-friendly alternative to the often-serious The Body Politic. As writer Michael Pihach recalls in the recent 40th anniversary issue of Xtra, “It was more or less a party and community guide, a lighter alternative to the political, radical, intellectual, serious tone of The Body Politic.” The new tabloid’s circulation quickly outpaces that of its predecessor.

1987 The 135th, and final, issue of The Body Politic is released in February. Xtra continues on.

1993 Two more editions, Xtra West in Vancouver and Capital Xtra in Ottawa, hit the stands.

1990s and beyond Adapting to changing times and the void left by The Body Politic, the paper becomes increasingly politicized. Xtra becomes a place for discussion about the defeat of Ontario NDP Bill 167, criminalization of HIV/AIDS, and the censorship struggles of Vancouver’s Little Sister’s and Toronto’s Glad Day queer bookstores.

Says Mills of Pink Triangle’s continuing role: “It’s advocacy journalism and it feels really, really, really good. Particularly when we, as an organization, are successful at effecting positive change in the world for gay and lesbian people. It’s very self-fulfilling to be part of an organization that is independent and dedicated to a cause. And that’s also part of a tangible community that you can go and experience right out the doors of the organization. It’s pretty cool.”

Comments

  • http://joeclark.org/weblogs/ Joe Clark

    I gather this history was too “brief” to mention the years-long defamation lawsuit PTP settled on the courtroom steps, or the near-half-million-dollar embezzlement that went on under publisher-for-life Ken Popert’s nose. Or the fact that Pink Triangle Press represents an Irving- or Hollister-like near-monopoly on the gay press (and television) in Canada.

  • Fawnterloy

    Another day, another drive-by accusation from Toronto’s most bitter man.