4 min

VIDEO: The making of Xtra’s commemorative photo

A sneak peek at the love in the room as we gathered to celebrate our community

A sneak peek at the making of Xtra’s special commemorative photo for our last print edition in Vancouver.

Tony James

What better way to cap our 21-year print run than with a commemorative photo to honour some of the people who have helped shape our community?

Of course, as I posted here on Feb 11, it would be impossible to squeeze into one snapshot all the people who have nurtured our community’s growth over the decades. This is by no means an exhaustive list. It’s only a handful, a cross-section of people from a variety of fields who have all contributed something meaningful to the community we call home.

Photographer belle ancell brought her considerable talent and joy to the task of capturing our commemorative photo. The photo shoot took place Feb 1 and filled the studio with love, appreciation and laughter, as evident in this behind-the-scenes video, courtesy of ancell and videographer Tony James.

Click on the video box above to watch the video, click here to see who’s who in the photo, and scroll down for thoughts from some of the participants on Xtra’s role in the community we cover.

Xtra has played a central role in bringing queer communities together and reporting on and advocating for rights for all parts of our communities.”

— barbara findlay (middle row, fourth from left)

“We’ve been able to document and archive stories from our community that now cannot be forgotten because they’re there, in print. Not to knock the fact that we’re moving into an online age. But there’s something about print, the printed word, that exists, impermeable, forever, and that’s a beautiful thing. You can read Xtra from its first issue to its last and it captures a community. It’s a time capsule, it really is.”

— Dave Deveau (back row, fourth from right)

“The future is now online, it appears. Thank you, Robin, and your whole Xtra West team for many years of being our community voice. Like any strong voice, sometimes we agreed, sometimes we disagreed, but there is no denying its presence. It will take some getting used to: not walking by a streetside paper-box and looking to see what community member(s) are staring back at me this week! But Daily Xtra is a topical and timely news source that I am sure will continue to flourish in the years ahead.”

— Barb Snelgrove (back row, fourth from left)

“Certainly, I think it’s one of those vehicles for community building. It’s not just about the news; it’s about drawing community together, many disparate micro-communities together . . . I fear, in a way, that that sense of community building may dissipate. But I’m hopeful that [Xtra] will continue to report on where we are and where we’re going . . . Hopefully, it can continue to put emphasis on our sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves.”

— Ron Dutton (middle row, third from left)

“It’s made me feel less alone out in the suburbs. It made me feel important. It allowed me to take my art to the community by highlighting what I’m doing. Xtra was the first sponsor on board for Zee Zee Theatre, and it justified my love and appreciation for the community around me.”

— Isolde N Barron (back row, drag queen)

“Seeing queers out on the street, whether people like it or not, in that old-school, out-and-proud kind of way. I really appreciate Xtra having a leather mandate, too, keeping that forefront.”

— Shaira (SD) Holman (middle row, second from left)

“One of the greatest values Xtra had was you would do a cover with Alan Cumming one issue and then with Isolde N Barron the next, and you’d equate the two. That was very valuable for Vancouver artists and activists. We’re saying to people that Jen Sung is just as inspiring as Ellen DeGeneres — and she is, and people needed to know that.”

—David C Jones (front row, seated left)

“Its physical presence on the streets all over the city, for everyone to see. If you were on the cover of Xtra, everyone would see you. People see that we’re here.”

— Paige Frewer (front row, left)

“I think the paper has at times been an opportunity for discourse — at times that discourse has been in the paper, and at times it’s been around the paper’s position itself. It’s something that’s been healthy and productive . . . I think Xtra has tried to be good around trans coverage, but I don’t think the mission has been updated to reflect the full diversity of our community.”

—Drew Dennis (front row, seated right)

“Visibility and relevancy and a radical sense of queer love.”

— Jen Sung (middle row, left)

“Reading about our communities is always important — this [moving online] makes it a little more accessible to people. There are many people who are behind those screens, looking for those connections, those stories. It may not be a physical presence, but it’s still there.”

— Romi Chandra Herbert (front row, centre)

“Migrating online might be really good for Xtra because we as community members have to make the effort to reach out. I think it’s a really good idea to go online. I like the fact that it’s being sustainable. I’m more of a social media person than a newspaper person.”

— Landon Krentz (middle row, third from right)

“I think Xtra can continue to shine a light on stories that most other media either don’t tell or will only tell once somebody else has told them. I think Xtra can shine a real spotlight on both setting love free and those who have been marginalized — and open up new understanding and build new bridges between communities.”

— Spencer Chandra Herbert (back row, third from right)

“Being able to take your scope out of Vancouver, I think you’ll be able to reach more queers through the internet and inspire a lot more people. I think you will continue to cover actual events and issues that remain relevant to the growth of the community.”

— Justin Saint (front row, right)