3 min

Four decades of Pink Triangle Press

Publishers of The Body Politic and Xtra celebrate past and future

By Matt Mills – On Nov 1, 1971, the first issue of The Body Politic (TBP) went on sale in Toronto. It was hawked, from Toronto gay bar to Toronto gay bar, for 25 cents a copy. It would be a few more years before the group of volunteer activists and intellectuals of The Body Politic collective officially incorporated Pink Triangle Press as a not-for-profit corporation in the province of Ontario. But that first issue of TBP, 40 years ago, was the inaugural project for an organization that has since made huge contributions to the Canadian gay and lesbian liberation movement.

The material below provides a series of snapshots of Pink Triangle Press history. Some pieces were penned by those who were there at the outset; others by those who have come to know the organization and the people who contribute to it more recently.

As we celebrate the past and the future of Pink Triangle Press, I hope you enjoy . . .

The Body Politic: At the genesis of sexual liberation in Canada
By Michael Connors Jackman

In 1987, when The Body Politic folded, a gap opened up between the generation of gay liberationists and young queers who would come of age in the decades to follow.The moment marked the end of a media venture that shaped the scope of gay and lesbian politics in Canada and beyond. The Body Politic, published by what would become Pink Triangle Press, came to serve as a paper of record in documenting activism, arts and culture, as well as the changing realities and challenges faced by lesbians and gays.

Meeting my life: What The Body Politic gave me
By Gillian Rodgerson

I wish I could say that I came to The Body Politic through a burning commitment to gay liberation or as a logical extension of my personal politics, but that wouldn’t exactly be true. Those things developed later. I came to the paper, as many people did, because a good friend was already there, because I liked the people, and because I was looking for a way into the community and the life that I needed to have.

An education: Required reading for every queer person
By Peter Knegt

Fortunately for me, a paper time machine of sorts has been provided: the past 40 years of material produced by Pink Triangle Press.

“You should probably just start with The Body Politic,” one of the many lovely volunteers at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives said to me on the first of countless research visits. The Body Politic was the genesis of Pink Triangle Press, and it is also one of the primary sources for my book.

Seeking our history: I can look back now over 40 years, and smile at my naiveté
By Gerald Hannon

I look around the office today and I see shamelessness. The art work on the walls is unabashedly erotic and political. The video arm of Pink Triangle makes delicious little fuck videos as promo for I remember that the press, 40 years ago, fought for the sexual emancipation of the young, championed drag, shone a spotlight on the erotic needs of the disabled and played shamelessly with the erotic potential of office life.

Moving boldly forward: Xtra comes into its own
By Michael Pihach

During Canada’s most seminal queer times over the last three decades, of which only a few are mentioned above, Xtra was there, notepad and pen in hand, reporting and conspiring on issues of huge import to gay and lesbian Canadians. It’s the paper’s contemporary approach to activist journalism that earns it a love/hate relationship with some of its readers. Xtra’s management knows that and eagerly points out that the paper is fuelled by a political agenda of activism and sexual liberation, not a desire to make money on the backs of blissfully ignorant readers.

Our work today: Ongoing projects from Pink Triangle Press
By Xtra staff

Although The Body Politic and Xtra are the original heart and soul of Pink Triangle Press, there are myriad other projects that exist either to pay the bills or take us into the future.

A timeline of events
By Xtra staff

A year-by-year chronology of some of the highlights of the work of Pink Triangle Press.

Pink Triangle Press celebrates 40 years
By Katie Toth with photos from Krys Cee, Ethan Han and Gilberto Prioste.

Pink Triangle Press, publisher of Xtra, celebrated its 40th anniversary on Oct 20, 2011, 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.

The 1981 Toronto bathhouse riots
By various contributors

The events of Feb 1981 are a turning point in the history of the Canadian gay and lesbian movement and had a profound impact on the work of Pink Triangle Press. Visit Xtra‘s coverage of the 30th anniversary of the Toronto bathhouse riots.