Staff look back at queer history and PTP milestones
Thu, Oct 20, 2011 8:00 pm.
Pink Triangle Press, publisher of Xtra, celebrated its 40th anniversary on Oct 20 with a major bash in its new offices on Carlton St in Toronto.
About 300 people slurped pink martinis, devoured raspberry-frosted cupcakes and posed for photos with pornstars. But for many, the bash was also an opportunity to reflect on how the gay and lesbian communities and PTP have changed over 40 years.
“Obviously, it’s changed a lot,” says PTP executive director Ken Popert, who has been involved with PTP for 38 years. “We have a lot more readers.”
Check out our video report from the event:
Popert says the unique structure of PTP treats the journalism not as a means to an end, but as an end in itself. “Gay and lesbian publishing is not really a profitable activity,” he says wryly. “We always saw it as our duty to find the means [to continue].”
In 1989, with the launch of Cruiseline, a telephone chat line for gay men, PTP turned to gay cruising and hookup services as a way to achieve that financial stability. In 1999, PTP launched Squirt, an internet guide for men looking to cruise online. Squirt now has hundreds of thousands of members across the English-speaking world.
PTP ploughs Squirt profits back into the company to strengthen the financial position of its publications.
Popert says PTP’s general philosophy is to advance sexual liberation, thus Squirt “[encourages] guys who cruise to be more confident in the rightness of what they’re doing and not be embarrassed or ashamed, and at the same time to exercise more care for themselves.”
Matt Mills, PTP’seditorial director, says PTP’s business model allows for more journalistic freedom.
“As media organizations go, PTP is structured in such a way that the journalistic part of the enterprise is well financed and very, very open,” he says. “That means our storytellers are free to explore topics without concern of antagonizing advertisers or anybody else.”
Mills says that leads to reporting that is “more honest and more complete.”
One of Mills’ favourite examples over the last few years is a series of stories that ran in Xtra about the criminalization of HIV.
“We were fortunate enough to have a couple of men who were accused of failure to disclose go on the record with us,” he says. “Those folks usually don’t have a voice in the mainstream.”
Mills says their stories seemed to subtly influence the way the mainstream media reported on HIV disclosure matters, making the narrative a bit more “sensitive to the realities of the situation.”