The Body Politic
8 min

A timeline of events

40 years of Pink Triangle Press

1971
Jearld Moldenhauer announces at a Toronto Gay Action meeting that all are welcome to join a group of people starting a gay liberation newspaper. Issue 1 of The Body Politic hits the streets around Halloween. On its cover is an image from the Aug 28 We Demand protest on Parliament Hill. The printer’s bill for 5,000 copies of the publication is $255, paid out of the pockets of the collective. That collective later evolves into “a group of people who regularly give their time and labour” to the production of the magazine and who exercise editorial control over the content, by consensus when possible. Membership changes over time, but volunteer time and labour keep the publication alive. The first issue costs 25 cents. Hawked on Toronto street corners and in bars (when the hawkers aren’t tossed out; gay bars are mostly straight-owned and -operated, and bar patrons are not always overly fond of radicals), the revolutionary gay newspaper eventually attracts readers and contributors from across Canada and around the world.
 
1972
The Body Politic publishes Gerald Hannon’s “Of Men and Little Boys” in Issue 5. The Globe and Mail’s Kenneth Bagnell lambastes the gay community because of the article.
Toronto celebrates Gay Pride Week in August.
 
1973
Gay Pride activities take place in Vancouver, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.
The Body Politic gives birth to the Gay Liberation Movement Archives, which will eventually grow into the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.
 
1974
The Toronto Star accuses The Body Politic of advocating “homosexual seduction of children.” TBP counters with a special free supplementary edition headlined “The Star Sells Hate.” The Club Baths, The Barracks, the Library steam bath and the Roman Sauna pull their advertising from TBP following the uproar.
 
1975
Issue 18 of The Body Politic is ordered off the stands by the Toronto Morality Squad because of a cartoon depicting two men sucking cock. The cartoon reappears on the cover of Issue 19 with a lightning bolt covering the offending act. An officer from the morality squad quips, “Kids are coming in off the streets and buying this, and we can’t have that, now can we?”
 
1976
Canada officially gains a new not-for-profit corporation: Pink Triangle Press. The Body Politic continues to operate autonomously within the newly established press.
 
1977
The Body Politic publishes Gerald Hannon’s “Men Loving Boys Loving Men.” The Toronto Sun’s Claire Hoy is apoplectic: “Kids, not rights, is their craving.” TBP’s office is raided Dec 30. Police officers cart away 12 shipping boxes of material (manuscripts, subscription lists, etc).
 
1978
On Jan 5, the officers of Pink Triangle Press — Ed Jackson, Gerald Hannon and Ken Popert — are charged with use of the mails for transmitting indecent, immoral or scurrilous literature.
The Body Politic Free the Press Fund is established.
 
Orange juice promoter and sexual-repression activist Anita Bryant visits Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Moosejaw and London. She is confronted with angry demonstrations.
On Dec 9, Toronto police raid The Barracks.
 
1979
The PTP officers are found not guilty, but Ontario Attorney General Roy McMurtry appeals.
The Barracks defence fund (later the Right to Privacy Committee) forms.
The Crown is ordered to return material seized in the 1977 raid on the offices of TBP and to pay costs. The Crown appeals.
 
1980
The Free the Press Fund places an ad in The Globe and Mail signed by more than 800 people urging the attorney general to drop the appeal. The Pink Triangle Press officers are ordered to face a new trial. They appeal.
 
1981
On Feb 5 Toronto police raid four gay bathhouses simultaneously, arresting more than 300 men. A number of demonstrations follow, drawing thousands of angry gay and lesbian people into the streets.
The Body Politic loses its appeal of the retrial order and appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Court declines to hear it. A story in the October issue of The Body Politic, “Gay Cancer? Or Mass Media Scare?” begins Pink Triangle Press’s coverage of HIV/AIDS.
 
1982
The Body Politic is charged again. This time, all nine members of the collective are accused of publishing obscene material for an article examining fisting etiquette. The offices are raided again on May 7. TBP is acquitted of this charge and again found not guilty in the “Men Loving Boys Loving Men” case. Attorney General Roy McMurtry continues to appeal the case. Pink Triangle Press publishes "Flaunting it! A Decade of Gay Journalism" from The Body Politic, edited by Ed Jackson and Stan Persky.
 
1983
An anti-porn crusade flares in Canada. In Vancouver, a Red Hot Video store is firebombed by the Wimmin’s Fire Brigade. The Body Politic is lambasted by some readers for continuing to accept Red Hot Video ads.The Body Politic’s two acquittals in the “Men Loving Boys Loving Men” case are finally allowed to stand. There are no more appeals.
 
1984
In January, Pink Triangle Press gives birth to a four-page bar rag called Xtra. Intended as a promotional tool for The Body Politic as well as a way to reach more people (and a different audience) than TBP ever could, Xtra soon outstrips its parent in advertising revenues and, eventually, in circulation.
 
1985
In April, seven years and numerous trials and appeals later, the police finally return the last of the materials seized in the 1977 raid on the offices of The Body Politic.
 
1986
Sexual orientation is added to the Ontario Human Rights Code.
In November, The Body Politic celebrates its 15th birthday, but the collective becomes concerned about its financial health and its ability to continue to make decisions. The collective and staff decide to suspend publication of TBP and keep Pink Triangle Press alive by focusing on Xtra.
 
1987
Pink Triangle Press forges on with Xtra as its new flagship brand. The collective votes to terminate its own existence shortly after appointing president and collective member Ken Popert as interim publisher of Xtra. Popert remains president and executive director of PTP to this day.
 
1988
In February, Xtra moves to 484 Yonge St and reaches a circulation of 17,000 28-page copies.
The Dec 30 issue includes, for the first time, a year-end AIDS memorial page called Proud Lives, an idea picked up from the former Vancouver-based Q Magazine. It later becomes a regular feature.
 
1989
In June, for Pride Day, Xtra sports its first full-colour cover, on 18,000 40-eight page copies.
November sees the premiere of XS, a supplement to Xtra with lesbian author Jane Rule on the cover. The supplement runs 43 issues before being discontinued in 1993.
 
1990
Pink Triangle Press enters the world of audiotext (telepersonal chatlines), eventually creating Xtra’s Talking Classifieds and Cruiseline. The Church Wellesley Review, a showcase for new lesbian and gay writing, debuts as a supplement to Xtra.
 
1991
Pink Triangle Press turns 20. The Dec 27 issue of Xtra is 22,000 40-page copies.
 
1992
In Toronto, demonstrators block Yonge and College streets after Glad Day Bookshop is charged with obscenity for carrying lesbian sex mag Bad AttitudeXtra wins an international design award fromPublish! Magazine for The Church-Wellesley Review. With June Rowlands as the new mayor, the City of Toronto finally proclaims Pride Day. The crowd for the subsequent party numbers 100,000.
 
1993
Cruiseline gains popularity, leading to a bountiful year for Pink Triangle Press.
Xtra West begins publishing in Vancouver in July, Capital Xtra in Ottawa in September.
PTP also expands its audiotext division to serve gay and lesbian people in the nation’s capital.
 
1994
Xtra turns 10. Pink Triangle Press purchases Malebox, the slutty little brother to the Xtra sister publications.
Audiotext systems expand into Calgary. PTP moves its head offices to 491 Church St on Oct 27 — 23 years, to the day, after the publication of the first issue of TBP. Capitalxtra.on.ca goes live, publishing material from the Ottawa edition. Ontario Bill 167, which would add provisions for same-sex couples to dozens of laws, is defeated in the Ontario legislature, leading to outrage across the province and a 10,000-strong protest march in the streets of Toronto.
 
1996
The audiotext division of PTP branches out to Edmonton and Winnipeg. XtraCapital Xtra and Xtra Westmove from a folded to a tabloid format.
 
Malebox leaves Ottawa for Toronto, getting a facelift and a new name: Canadian Male. It runs for two more years, ceasing publication in 1998. In late October, PTP turns a happy and healthy 25.
 
1998
Xtra.ca goes live, covering Toronto only.
 
1999
In September, PTP takes its first tentative steps into interactive web content. Squirtpersonals.com gets its first hit. XtraXtra West and Capital Xtra conduct their first formal reader surveys. Xtra publishes a news-flash warning that police have raided Toronto’s Bijou porn theatre. Police charge 18. The charges are dropped months later.
 
2000
Squirt.org, a site that allows gay men to swap cruising tips and tricks, launches. Pink Triangle Press launches a glossy magazine, Go Big. It runs three issues before being discontinued in May 2001. Toronto police raid the Pussy Palace and the Bijou.
 
2001
Xtra covers same-sex marriages at the Metropolitian Community Church of Toronto and the court struggle over gay-positive books in the Surrey, BC, school system.
 
Aaron Webster is beaten to death in a cruising area of Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Xtra West covers the subsequent push for anti-homophobia programs in BC schools, police accountability for the safety of gay men in area parks, and the apprehension of Webster’s killers.
 
2002
Vancouver and Ottawa are added to xtra.ca. Xtra covers Marc Hall’s fight to take his boyfriend to the prom; the libel ruling against Toronto councillor Kyle Rae after comments he made about the conduct of seven police officers during the Pussy Palace raid; and the arrest of seven members of the Totally Naked Toronto Men contingent in the Toronto Pride parade.
Police raid Calgary gay bathhouse Goliaths, and Xtra West stops the presses, running a special supplement that is distributed in Calgary, a city in which Pink Triangle Press does not have a print publication. The Supreme Court of Canada rules that the Surrey School Board had no grounds to ban gay-friendly books in its schools. PTP produces the first season of gay travel television show Bump! It airs on PrideVision, a Canadian digital specialty television channel.
 
2003
Pink Triangle Press joins a consortium of investors in the purchase of PrideVision. The channel is rebranded as OUTtv. The press will eventually build an almost 25-percent stake in the enterprise. Squirt.org becomes a member-paid site.
After relentless coverage in the pages of Xtra West, police in BC arrest four in connection with the 2001 murder of Aaron Webster.
 
2004
The Toronto Women’s Bathhouse Committee reaches a settlement with the Toronto Police Service over the 2000 Pussy Palace raids.
 
2005
Canada fully embraces same-sex marriage, with the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. Pink Triangle Press provides office space and sponsorship for Canadians for Equal Marriage.
 
2006
Pink Triangle Press purchases long-running US gay publication The Guide, which will later be transformed into a travel-focused publication and transition from print entirely to web in 2010 (it continues online at guidemag.com).
PTP extends an $18,000 short-term loan to the Ottawa Pride Committee after the organization finds itself deeply in the red.
 
2007
Bump! is made available for home DVD and download sales through major retailers, including Netflix, Blockbuster and Amazon. Pink Triangle Press produces the first of its ongoing annual Toronto International Film Festival television shows, Out@TIFF.
 
2008
Pink Triangle Press buys the assets of Toronto’s fab magazine. The magazine’s final issue of the year features a cover and interview with Lady Gaga, who subsequently goes on to some success as a pop star. Masthead magazine names The Body Politic among Canada’s 20 most influential magazines of all time.
 
2009
Bump! starts shooting in high definition video and launches a series of mobile travel apps. Christopher Skinner is beaten and crushed to death under the wheels of an SUV just blocks from Toronto’s gay neighbourhood. His killers remain at large.
 
2010
Xtra undergoes a redesign, including a new logo. Pink Triangle Press, in partnership with long-time television collaborator Peace Point Entertainment, buys Canadian digital specialty gay porn channel HARDtv. Bump! wins a Hugo Television Award of Merit. The Gayest Show Ever wins Best Pilot at the Banff World Television Awards and sees its world premiere on NPO, the Dutch national broadcaster. Xtracovers the Pride Toronto censorship controversy. Xtra closes its Ottawa office. 
 
2011
Pink Triangle Press flees its long-time second-storey digs at 491 Church St for a swanky new space at 2 Carlton St. PTP launches a comedy news television show, The Gayest Show Ever.