Opinion
5 min

Letters, letters, letters

A selection of reader letters from the early days of Xtra Toronto

Xtra’s first letter. Credit: Xtra file photo

Outrage, shock, revulsion, anger and sometimes appreciation — Xtra readers have never been shy about letting us know what they think. In 30 years it’s one thing that’s not changed. Here’s a selection of reader letters from the early days of Xtra.

Xtra’s first letter
“It’s important to shock people about who you are,” headlines singer Micah Barnes. “His sexual ambiguity is arresting and deliberate,” simpers writer Robert Wallace. The inescapable conclusion, of course, is that Micah Barnes is sexually ambiguous. Maybe, maybe not. It may (eventually) not be all that important. What is important is that a publication of The Body Politic, a “magazine for gay liberation,” once again has printed an interview with a “sexually ambiguous” entertainer. We would be delighted to find writing in TBP or Xtra that questioned the centrality of sexual orientation in our self-definitions — but we don’t think we have yet. Until we do, we’re inclined to read “sexual ambiguity” as “gay is poison in the media market.” How simple-minded of us, how unenlightened, how un-80s.
Brian Pronger, Gerry
Oxford, David Sanders

Toronto, ON
May 19, 1984

Declaring Pride Day
Sexual orientation is a private matter.
Mayor Art Eggleton
City of Toronto
1989

After trying for years to get the City of Toronto to declare a Gay and Lesbian Pride Day, it is an insult to learn that a Muppet Babies Day is declared in Metro Toronto . . . Grow up, Art.
Anonymous
Toronto, ON
1989

Out of the closet and into the gutter
I am writing to express my concerns about Xtra Issue 145, which clearly showed two naked individuals on the front cover. I don’t think I should have to tell you that this front page was in very poor taste and that I hope this type of photography will not be repeated on the front page in future issues of your newspaper.
Chris Korwin-Kuczynski
Toronto City Councillor, Ward 2
1990

Shameful Pride
The scene of Pride Day was one of sadness and disgust. Is it a day to don ridiculous outfits and crotch watch? The whole scenario at Cawthra Park reminded me only of a circus show. Is being gay a reason not to be wholesome?
Devan A
Toronto, ON
1990

For women only
I am sick of reading about door problems at The Rose and the seemingly increasing enmity between lesbians and gay men. Lesbians and gay men do happen to be people capable of carrying on human relationships.
Robert Malcolm
Toronto, ON
1991

If the men who go to lesbian bars and to designated “dyke nights” were as enlightened and politically correct as they think they are, they’d know that there’s hardly anywhere in this city for women — straight or lesbian — to go, to be with other women only.
Z Sonia Ostrowska
Toronto, ON
1991

I am not a feminist. I am an individualist. I am not anti-men. But I really enjoy being able to go to a bar that is filled with just gay women. I am sure I am not the only lesbian who feels this way.
M Rogers
Toronto, ON
1989

As a lesbian, I am quite aware of the prejudice and misunderstanding straight people have acquired concerning homosexuals. Talking, educating and including the straight people in our community is the only way to relieve this prejudice. How will any of us succeed if individuals in our community are as prejudiced as some heterosexuals?
Mickey Harry
Toronto, ON
1989

What’s hot
We would like to express our sincerest and deepest appreciation for providing us with such a hot, erotic, mind-boggling, clitoris-tingling, nipple-rousing photo of the last issue’s Xtra Hot woman.
Two winnable lusting leather lesbos
1991

What I really want to know is this: who is the hunk that had lunch with AIDS Committee of Toronto executive director Steve Manning in the front window of Pints Friday, April 5?
Anonymous
Toronto, ON
1991

Less than burning issues
Sometimes a new label on an old product helps its sales. The terms “sexuality” and “sexual orientation” should be removed from the English vocabulary and replaced with “sexual individuality,” incorporating lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual and transsexual.
Paul Clemens
Hamilton, ON
1992

I find it troubling that bars such as Woody’s and The Barn now charge four dollars for a bottle of beer.
H Gerald Wittenberg
Toronto, ON
1992

Moral vision or night vision?
I have personally witnessed (from several inches away) many cases of men ejaculating into other men’s mouths and having anal sex without condoms, in saunas and in parks. After they finished, they went their separate ways — in silence — without even a “thank you.”
Charles Fisch
Toronto, ON
1992

Reaching out
It is well known within the diverse queer communities that Xtra panders primarily to white, middle-class gay males.
Lesbian Youth Peer Support
Toronto, ON
1993

Those federal elections will fuck you up
I dreamt I was having an affair with this gorgeous older woman. With, of all people, Kim Campbell. I won’t get into any details, but let’s just say that nature took its course. Last time it was Sheila Copps.
Chloe
1993

Beige kettle
I suppose it’s always good in a roundabout way when the global online community gets some press. But in Randal Oulton’s column on the cute “taglines” people on [the] internet append to their online messages, is it really so much to ask that he refer to them by their correct name[s]? They are called .sigs (with a dot), a contraction of .signature, the Unix file name most people’s .sigs are stored under. And to think Oulton exhorts us to “get with the program.” This is the biggest case of the pot calling the kettle beige since letter-writer Brian Mossop called me pretentious.
Joe Clark
Toronto, ON
1994

Street harassment
I have another suggestion for dealing with assholes yelling from the safety of their cars. Yell back! A friend and I once yelled back, “Suck my cunt!” and “Eat my pussy!” And this to great effect. I’ll let lesbians come up with their own genderbending obscenities.
Garth Barriere
Toronto, ON
1995

Bar life

The owners of Toronto’s gay bars are self-serving hypocrites. On one hand, they all make a big fuss about raising money for people with AIDS, while they utterly and completely fail to look after the health of any of their patrons, let alone those with HIV. Not one bar in Toronto has even the most minimal of ventilation. This means that high levels of cigarette smoke accumulate. Which in turn means high levels of carbon monoxide and dioxide.
Terry Gaudio
Toronto, ON
1995

Rainbow flag
Is the rainbow flag now just a bunch of pretty colours and no longer a symbol of diversity — real diversity — and not just the diversity approved by the A-list gays?
Stephen Grandison
Toronto, ON
1996

Pride Week
Pride Week was a blast, eh? But what about commercialism? Whew! Rampant, wasn’t it? How long till we see a luxurious convertible entered in the parade with some cute old coot seated in the back, waving and smiling — and plastered on the side is a banner that reads “Molson’s proudly presents Toronto’s oldest living cocksucker”?
Phil Shaw
Toronto, ON
1996

I have attended Pride Day for many years and this was the most disappointing display of filth I have ever seen. In our minds, this sort of exhibitionism only adds fuel to the straight community’s ideas of what gay life is actually like. We as proud gay men and women should avoid at all costs this type of foul, vulgar antics.
Ron Forster and Tom Jacobs
London, ON
1996

Focusing on the family
The traditional married family has been consistently shown to be the safest and most satisfying living arrangement for not only women and children, but for men, too. In fact, it’s in the amorphous web — unfortunately championed by Xtra and much of the activist homosexual community — that most abuse is documented to occur.
Judy Anderson,
President, REAL Women, Ontario chapter
1996