Opinion
2 min

Thank you for letting me tell your stories

Robin Perelle says goodbye after 16 years with Xtra

Robin Perelle prepares to interview a new generation of queer-friendly hockey players on the set of an Xtra video shoot in 2013. Credit: Shimon Karmel/Xtra

It’s been 16 and a half years — my longest relationship second only to my cat — and I still consider it an honour to tell your stories.

Sixteen has been an important number for me, I guess: I was 16 when I got to cover a truckers’ strike outside Montreal and realized that I wanted to be a journalist, that I wanted to tell stories, ask questions and hold decision-makers accountable.

What I didn’t guess then is that I’d not only come out but get the privilege of telling my community’s stories, meaningful stories that could change our world.

It’s a privilege I’ve never taken lightly.

Thank you for trusting me all these years to capture the moments of your lives — from love to pain, from celebration to resistance, and so much more.

Thank you for sharing so much of yourselves with me, and for having the courage to reach out to me, to push me to listen more closely when you thought there was more I needed to hear, or something I needed to understand more deeply.

I have learned so much from all of you, and I will always be grateful.

And now, enveloped by the support, and sometimes wrath, of the community that welcomed me home, it is time for me to explore the next chapters that life might bring.

As I get ready to pass the torch to a gifted new generation at Xtra, I can’t help but notice that our community seems to be at another crossroads.

In the last two decades, I’ve covered remarkable change: a cascade of legal rights and recognitions, first for queer individuals, then spouses, then married couples, accompanied by a surge of visibility and, slowly, space carved in society for more sexualities and genders to exist without shame, and sometimes even to flourish.

As space opens up for some of us to step fully into our truest selves without fear or apology, I wonder if we’ll make it a priority to reach back for our queer and trans family members still denied the same opportunities?

Or will we abandon queer people of colour, trans people, bisexuals, non-binary people and others in our ascension?

I’d like to believe that we won’t leave behind the community members that society has been slower to embrace.

I’d like to believe that we will hold the door open for those still fighting behind us, rather than allowing it to (perhaps accidentally) slam in their faces as we bask in the glory of our newfound acceptance.

I fully admit — and sincerely regret — that for far too long I was oblivious to the challenges faced by the community members that we neglected to reflect in our pages.

I was unfortunately willing to turn a blind eye, insufficiently interested in the intricacies of intersecting identities, insufficiently committed to accurately reflecting a complete picture of our beautifully diverse queer community.

I’ve been working hard to correct my mistake, to own it and strive to do better. And I have no doubt that my teammates at Xtra — the new generation that helped open my eyes, that I have had the privilege to learn so much from — will only continue to do better.

I know they will keep telling our community’s stories with fairness, accuracy, intelligence and dedication, sincerely committed to representing the greatest diversity of queer voices and experiences.

And I look forward to following what they publish.