6 min


What does 600 look like?

For 600 issues, that’s more than 23-years worth, Xtra has been here reporting, analyzing and cajoling the queers of Toronto and beyond. Here are five snapshots of the scrappy-little-paper-that-could, a look back at the marquee numbers that keep running at us full tilt every two weeks.


ISSUE 0 (Preview; an insert in The Body Politic)
Jan 27, 1984

COVER: Designed by Stephen Searle


– An obit for Peter Evans, the 28-year-old Ottawan who died of AIDS earlier that month: “The only Canadian AIDS patient willing and able to go public.”

– The leather and denim bar Outpost (in the Hotel California on Jarvis) closes

– Paul Fraser’s travelling federal committee on porn and prostitution comes through town

– A preview of Michael Riordon’s radio play The Other Side of the Moon broadcast on CBC

– Listings: Soap II lesbian and gay dance at the Concert Hall with DJ Barry Harris (later of Thunderpussy fame) produced by GCDC (Gay Community Dance Committee) to mark the third anniversary of the bathhouse raids; Lily Briscoe author Mary Meigs presents her talk Reflections of a Senior Lesbian at U of T; Cloud Nine, Caryl Churchill’s cross-dressing comedy about gender and relationships starring Fiona Reid at the Bayview Playhouse


– “25-year-old gay female enjoys stimulating conversations, long walks, Rita Mae Brown, Melissa Manchester, mushrooms, cats, cuddling, sports. Interested?”

– “1954 domestic compact in good mechanical condition wishes to share double garage before rust sets in. Tastefully equipped with FM-band, cruise control, sporty engine, attractive, original blond finish and bright interior. Country and city driven with a preference for urban parking facilities. No ashtray; no spare tire. Wheel alignment a little left of centre. Adjacent parking spot reserved for companion model of 1940s to 1950s vintage. Photo can set wheels in motion.”


– Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau retires, replaced by John Turner as Liberal leader who’s then defeated by Brian Mulroney and the Progressive Conservatives

– Bill Davis is the PC premier of Ontario; Art Eggleton mayor of Toronto

– AIDS deaths in Canada: 80


May 13, 1988

COVER: Jeff Mowat’s tattooed bicep


– Reprints from gay mags of the 1960s Two and Gay

– Bill C-61 designed to tackle “enterprise crimes,” specifically the drug trade and those who profit by it; fears that it will be used against queer bookstores and bathhouses

– An interview with the UK’s first out MP Chris Smith

– Hot Wax music column top dance hit: “Together Forever” by Rick Astley(!)

– Chuck Grochmal’s column tackles safe sex: “When you’re having sex, pretend that the other guy has AIDS — because he just might”

– Listings: the National Ballet of Canada’s Onegin with “fetish object Natalia Makarova”; “eminently forgettable” Moonstruck; A Winter Tan starring Jackie Burroughs; Maurice Vellekoop’s Tooty Fruity show at Reactor; Daniel MacIvor’s Two Wakky Guys (A Romp) at the Tarragon and Nana Mouskouri at Roy Thomson Hall


– “Uninhibited erotic dancers with huge cocks requested to contact insatiable blond deep-throat, 29. Total phallic worship and discretion assured. No reciprocation necessary.”


– The NDP’s Svend Robinson comes out on national television to become the first out Canadian MP

– Mulroney’s PCs win a second majority over free trade despite opposition parties winning 52 percent of the vote

– Feds introduce a draconian porn bill based in part on the Fraser report

– David Peterson Liberal premier of Ontario; Eggleton still mayor

– Ben Johnson stripped of his sprinting gold medal for steroid use

– AIDS deaths in Canada: 622


Jun 26, 1992

COVER: Garry Rubenstein’s shot from 1991’s Lesbian and Gay Pride Day


– A photo of Sky Gilbert as Jane trying to give a Gina Award for the individual who hurt the arts the most to Bob Mathews of the Toronto police’s Project P (responsible for busts on Glad Day Bookshop in 1981 and ’92)

– After repeated refusals by her predecessor Eggleton, Mayor June Rowlands proclaims Pride Week in Toronto for the first time

– The Toronto chapter of Queer Nation disbands

– Spousal benefits to same-sex partners extended at the YMCA, denied at Bell Canada

– Maureen Phillips roundup of lesbian erotica includes Getting Wet and Bushfire

– Listings: Derek Jarman’s Edward II; Steve Reinke’s 100 Videos (The First 12); the launch of The Living Guide by the AIDS Committee of Toronto; OutSpoken VII with writers June Callwood, Tomson Highway, Andrew Patterson, David Roche, Libby Scheier and more at Buddies; The Lavinia Show at Buddies starring David Walberg; Hudson’s opening at 619 Yonge St with the band Betty; Rusty Ryan in Driving to Tatamagouche by Jeffrey Round at the Poor Alex and Kiss of the Spider Woman at the St Lawrence Centre


– “I’m not very good at writing a jingle but here I am single. The only thing I like are women and the only thing I hate are squirrels. If you’re 25 to 30, have independence and drive and are not thrilled with the bar scene, I’m interested in meeting you.”

– “Frog bald toothless one ear, glass eye, no sense of humour/interests/culture seeks anonymous adventure with hairy, blue-collared toads. Hurry, I’ll go quick.”


– Mulroney still PM; Bob Rae NDP premier of Ontario

-l The Supreme Court releases the Butler decision that uses the vague notion of community standards of harm to define obscenity; first police action based on the decision is against Glad Day Bookshop for sale of the lesbian sex magazine Bad Attitude

– Michelle Douglas wins a settlement with the Canadian Armed Forces over her 1988 dismissal; a Charter ruling requires the forces to allow gay and lesbian personnel

– The Blue Jays win their first World Series

– North American Free Trade Agreement is signed

– An Alberta court rules that sexual orientation must be read into human rights legislation following Delwin Vriend’s lawsuit against the Alberta Human Rights Commission; repeated appeals aren’t settled until 1998 when the Supreme Court rules in Vriend’s favour

– First combination therapies (the cocktail) for AIDS introduced

– AIDS deaths in Canada: 1,292


Apr 25, 1996

COVER: Wayson Choy, author of The Jade Peony, part of the opening night gala at Asian Heritage Festival


– Allegations that the Ontario Human Rights Commission is dumping complaints of antigay discrimination to deal with backlog

– Queer prostitutes

– Aftermath of the February police raid on Remmington’s strip club

– Fed cuts mean the death of women’s Studio D at the NFB

– Listings: the Kids in the Hall’s “brain dead” first film Brain Candy; Elvira Kurt at the Rivoli; Shag-on-Sunday lesbian night on Dundas St W; a tribute to all things Norma at Gatsby’s; Ani DiFranco at Music Hall


– Jean Chrétien is Liberal PM (he throttles a protester that year); Mike Harris is the budget-slashing Conservative premier; Barbara Hall is mayor

– Feds required to extend employee benefits to same-sex partners; the Human Rights Act is amended to include sexual orientation as grounds for protection from discrimination

– The XI International AIDS conference held in Vancouver

– AIDS deaths in Canada: 1,065


Feb 24, 2000

COVER: Gérald Michaud of the Danny Grossman Dance Company


– Criticism over the feds’ proposed payment of survivor benefits to same-sex spouses: “I’m sure that if they excluded blacks, Jews or First Nations people from CPP they’d save money, but I certainly wouldn’t nor would someone else ever suggest they should do that,” says lawyer Douglas Elliot

– A Quebec mother, HIV-positive for 14 years, is stripped of custody after refusing to give AIDS drugs to her HIV-positive kids

– African, Latin and First Nations performance and poetry slam Church Street and Dahomey II

– A birthday shout out to Piscean street musician Wendy Rose

– Listings: This magazine’s salon Is Gay Passé? with Bert Archer, Rachel Giese, Sky Gilbert and Rinaldo Walcott; call for submissions for a transgender issue by Fireweed quarterly; UK DJ Chris Liberator spins at Industry


– “Long-haired bearded biker-guy seeks macho little buddy. No gel hair or scented ghetto queens please. Ask for Joe.”


– Country survives the millennial bug

– Chrétien is PM; Harris is premier; Mel Lastman reelected as mayor; Julian Fantino becomes Toronto’s chief of police

– AIDS deaths in Canada: 262


Dec 25, 2003

COVER: Speed doyenne Sugar Püss


– Provincial auditor claims the ministry responsible for inspecting video outlets is out of control in targeting gay porn

– MP Scott Brison bolts from the new Conservative party to become the Liberals’ first out MP

– John Miller’s look back at 15 years of love and sex in the time of AIDS

– The feds are forced to make pension benefits for same-sex partners retroactive to 1985 (when the Charter came into being)

– Listings: Mother Gin-Sling’s House of Worship group art show at Zsa Zsa; TV broadcast of The Closet starring Gerrard Depardieu “one of the worst films of 2001;” Honey Dijon spins at Boa


– “It’s Patrick, 5’9″, 160lb, big lips, nice lean body, very hot and versatile. I’m looking for guys who want to get together with another guy or another girl and getting into some body worship. I like jocks, but I also love crossdressers, confident Bay St boys, professionals and pretty boys, too. I’m very hot and I’m looking for that kind of scene, very confidential and sexy.”


– Paul Martin is Liberal prime minister; Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals win the provincial election; Lastman retires and David Miller wins the mayoral election

– The Alliance and the PC party unite

– SARS hits Toronto; so does North America’s biggest-ever blackout

– The Ontario Appeals Court rules the federal definition of marriage contravenes the Charter; the province becomes the first jurisdiction in North America to recognize same-sex marriage; the feds don’t appeal the Ontario ruling, indicating that it will change the definition of marriage

– AIDS deaths in Canada: 152