Rick Bébout
Toronto, Canada
July 2007

"There are
no passengers on
Spaceship Earth. We
are all crew."

Marshall McLuhan

 Photo: Gilberto Prioste, 2002

I launched this site on my 50th birthday, January 11, 2000, to celebrate the life I've lucked into: a life of promiscuous wonder.

The biggest piece here, from which the rest grew, is a memoir of my times
in Toronto, arriving as an immigrant at the age of 19. In time I came to see the world from a distinctly queer place --
a perspective you'll find described here by an insightful friend as "oblique, maybe, but precisely because of that informed, revealing, powerful" -- living with Canada's most vital gay mag The Body Politic and the culture it shaped, eventually facing AIDS.

Not alone: each story here shares the lives of a vibrant crew, true citizens of the world.

Eleven pieces are described below. The title of each is a link to the full story. Feel free to print or circulate anything I have made here. This work is meant as a gift.


Lives, times, & place
 My own, and beyond

St Charles

"I wonder if just once, just once we tell each other what our lives have been like, what would happen?"

Neil Bartlett

The Bar(n)

No Shit

BP #99



Promiscuous Affections
A Life in the Bar, 1969-2000

A memoir of three decades in Toronto: the rise of its gay, lesbian, radical pervert and queer arts communities, from bars to picnics to Pride parades and police raids; resistance to AIDS (and AIDS panic) -- taking too many of us, but kept from killing our communal ways of life. With ponderings on history, the media (mostly "our own"), sex, and citizenship.

It's big: scads of scenes and scores of people I've been privileged to know. Check the Contents page, hugely detailed, to see where you might want to go.

Intro, Foreword, 50 chapters, & an
Addendum on Canada's often-lost history
Appx 340,000 words / 468 images
January 2000


"You like sex. That
makes you a pervert.
And that's okay."

Sue Golding





Diva Diaries
Carole Pope's Anti Diva
Sky Gilbert's Ejaculations from the Charm Factory

Egos to match my own (no diva if keeping a diary), Sky Gilbert and Carole Pope cover much the same times, Toronto turf, and fabulous folks I do in Promiscuous Affections. So, another chance to celebrate pioneering perverts in wildly creative times, these two in particular.

With reflections on the Queen West scene, art trio General Idea, "picture perfect" Tim Guest and Carole's "beautiful baby brother" Howard; on Sky's Buddies in Bad Times Theatre as a medium more queer than "gay" -- and the pitfalls of media "shock and scandal."

Intro & 5 chapters
Appx 20,000 words / 55 images
January 2001

Queen St

"Life has ways
of taking root in the
cracks & margins of
official intent.

"That's its genius."

Soldier boy

Painted city

Don dippers

Old City Hall

One Street,
Many Stories: Queen

Tales from a wander without end

Twenty stories hung off the line of one vibrant urban stretch: Toronto's Queen Street, East and West. Roam the city past and present along and beyond one of its oldest, longest, and most wildly varied routes; a street of public lives, communal endeavours and urban citizenship, seen through the lens of five themes:

The Land and how we've shaped it; The Empire and how it shaped us; Spaces where we work, live and play: fighting to make them our own; Bodies in public -- often bodies in trouble; and Cultures defying mulitcultural cliché.

Intro & 19 stories
Appx 96,000 words / 497 images
September 2002

Eagle and flag

""Had I not grown up American, I might not know quite so well what it means to be Canadian."





An American Education
(Short of Yale)

Well short of BA, MA, or PhD if with distinct wonders: an odd New England town; a high school full of smart Army brats and dazzling thespians; a crap college; and politics (electoral vs real) in Cold War America.

My life before Promiscuous Affections: genuine autobiography (as that big memoir is not), and a very American one.

With Punditry: At seventeen -- confessions of teenage journalism.

Intro & 7 chapters; Punditry's intro & 5 bits
Appx 30,000 words / 64 images
March 2001

Creating ourselves
 And recreating the world


"No resources,
no credentials, no permission. All they had was passion. And each other."

1971 demo



Gerald Hannon

On the Origins
of The Body Politic

1971 (& before) to 1974 (& beyond)

A look at the paper's 1971 basement beginnings, birthed by a handful of activists who had no credentials, no money, and certainly no permission -- just things they were ready to say. See the people and forces shaping it (even before it was born); follow its formative years, its purpose, principles, collectivist workings, its rise -- and, 15 years later, its fall.

With some thoughts on its later spawn: a media empire that the pioneering creators of The Body Politic could never have imagined -- in rather more ways than one....

Introduction & 5 chapters
Appx 26,000 words / 46 images
January 2000

NEW: 2007 >>>>
BP 80

"We were doing exactly what we'd hope to be doing if we didn't have to work for a living."

Chris Bearchell

Gay 70s


139 seaton

139 Seaton St,
early home of
The Body Politic's works & many of its workers

Giving it away
The Body Politic
& life in a culture of gifts

The Body Politic has been called "invaluable as a documentary source of Canadian gay history" -- seen as a product, not a living process. Yet the paper's collectivist workings were as radical as its content, no more conventional than the lives of its creators, many sharing domestic digs with gaggles of avid activists.

Driven by passion, not pay, we built a culture where, as Lewis Hyde writes in The Gift, "status grows not from how much one owns, but how much one gives away." It's when "a part of the self is given away that community appears."

Appx 4,000 words / 5 images
July 2007

"The Body Politic was the work of activists. Not 'journalists.'
I tend to see 'journalist' as one of the
most self-enobling,
irresponsibly claimed weasel words in the entire language."
Xtra #0 Xtra

At birth, 1984, &
1994 (above)
Gay "journalism":
What for?

"Professional" ethics?
Or true citizenship?

A paper presented to a bunch of lesbigay "journalists" in 1997 -- explaining those quotation marks, meant to disown the term.

Pointed ponderings on players with power to shape what we know as "reality"; on their evasion of that power behind the mask of "objectivity," and responsibilities of citizenship beyond the "standards of journalism."

Appx 6,000 words / 1 image
January 2000


"Immoral? Indecent? Scurrilous? Obscene?" Not in 1979. Or 1982.
But now?

TBP 39

TBP 51




Text Crimes
The very long & contentious career
of "Men loving boys loving men"

What text was launched on the world in 1977? Charged as "immoral, indecent, scurrilous" (and maybe "obscene") in 1978? Found "Not Guilty" in 1979? And again in 1982? Publicly available (even in a book) for nearly a quarter century? And now -- maybe "kiddie porn?"

You guessed it. But have you read it? You can here, along with other words from more than two decades ago. If seeming decades ahead of words we've heard since -- on that issue that just won't go away.

Appx 15,000 words / 21 images
June 2003

Blessings (& banality)
Magical lives meet dismal politics


"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

Hebrews 13:2



Twelve episodes

Human angels, flesh and blood (and thankfully), nicer than many of God's if with a similar calling: to make visitations, offer revelations to help you truly see -- and then fly away.

A dozen encounters, dating from 1969 to 2000, with 15 mortal messengers, hints of the divine on Earth. With tales of two dozen Other Angels, linked to their original appearances in Promiscuous Affections.

Preface, 12 episodes, & Other Angels
Appx 26,500 words / 50 images
January 2001

Angel face

"Sleep on needles. And hear only the truth."

Sondre Lerche

Faces Down


Norsk engel
Two gigs

Can a rising star really be an Angel? And, maybe more to the point: in the posturing flash of what passes for pop culture -- can he stay one?

A look at the music, the magic, the many faces -- and the amazing grace -- of Bergen boy Sondre Lerche.

Appx 6,500 words / 21 images
July 2003 / Also linked (by gracious Sondre)
from: www.sondrelerche.com


"I abhor cheap sentiment."

Bette Davis


Lesbian Gothic

Just Married

Xtra / Jan 14 99

Gay Marriage?
Wrong question

But it gets a nice Liberal answer

In June 2003 the feds suddenly said "Yes" to matrimonial demands by comfortably coupled homos. So: time for champagne? Maybe for them. But what fate awaits the rest of us?

We still haven't asked the right questions: Why should our rights depend on our sex lives? Why is the state, and the church, still in the bedrooms of the nation? This gets called a "gay victory"?

A new Postscript: as prologue wraps Gay marriage? Wrong question as an archival resource -- in the hope it may help prevent a repeat of the dismal history it records.

Ongoing agit-prop, launched October 2002, since grown to some 30 pieces -- if too tedious to go on with any longer.

The fine print


Rick Bébout © 2000-2007

Sondre Lerche: from www.sondrelerche.com
"No hear, no speak" graphic: Eric Drooker

Apart from images credited here or elsewhere on this site (those uncredited are by me), no permission is required to quote from, print, or distribute free of charge any part of this work, so long as the source is acknowledged. My thanks to the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives for the use of their scanner.

Notes on style: This site has no font style tags, so will display in the default font you have set in your own browser program. (But it does look pretty in Palatino, point size 14, on Internet Explorer; that's how I designed it.)

Throughout this site, periods are often missing where those not British might expect to find them. It was house style in my best job and I like it. For technical reasons (some browsers can't break hyphenated words) you will also find hyphens missing where they'd be grammatically correct. Where essential for sense, they are usually followed by a space.

This page: http://www.rbebout.com/index.htm
Last revised: July 31, 2007