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Carol Philipps, 1965-2009

In the early 1980s, Winnipeg was still a closeted prairie city, without a Gay and Lesbian Resource Centre or even a Pride parade. Yet Carol Philipps, still in high school at the time, bravely came out to her classmates and moved into an apartment with her first girlfriend, Noreen Stevens.

While working part-time at Wendy’s, Philipps earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Winnipeg and joined the editorial collective of the university’s newspaper, The Uniter. There, she helped oversee the publication of a special gay, lesbian and bisexual issue in 1991. The issue’s sexually explicit content, including a graphic article titled “A safe sex guide for gay men,” provoked angry protests and almost got the paper shut down.

But Philipps never shied away from protest, and three years later, she volunteered to become the founding editor of Winnipeg’s first gay and lesbian newspaper, Swerve. The paper’s inaugural editorial began with these words: “We believe gay and lesbian life is inherently political.”

Sadly, a life-long congenital heart disorder slowed Philipps down, and she was forced to quit Swerve in 1997.

Over the past several years, Philipps gained energy from a large and loving chosen family, including her wife Virginia McKee; best friend Stevens and Stevens’ wife, Jill Town, and their children, Savannah and Dillon; as well as Philipps’ sister, Lisa, and her children Jonah and Levi. Philipps is also survived by her parents, Sylvia and Gerry, as well as close friends Dannie Angevine, Joyce Wong, Naomi Guilbert, Nadene Rehnby and Lisa Sylvia.