A Life in The Bar



This page describes each chapter in some detail, and offers links to them. They make best sense read in order. Links at the end of each lead to the next, making that easy to do. But you can also browse at will.

If you want to, this page can help: It's a tale in itself, highlighting much bigger tales. Names of key people, places, events, and themes appear in bold. The number of images and (approximate) words is shown for each chapter, most titled by year. From 1982 on, each year gets two chapters. Two other documents on this site are referred to here, also accessible from my Home Page.

On the Origin of The Body Politic
Covering TBP's early history, with reflections on what it became.
Gay "journalism": What for?
A rant to the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (Canada), May 1997.


The Bar(n)
(Previous page: 1,700 wds / 1 image)

(2,500 wds / 1 image)
The purpose & inspiration of this work (with thanks to Neil Bartlett); comments on style, sources, & the limits of historical memory.



Part One: 1969-1972
Going in

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Early life in Ayer, Massachusetts, a small town near a big Army base at the height of the Cold War. Immigrating to Canada at 19, getting a job at The Book Cellar, meeting early friends, few of them gay; swearing I'd "never go near the fag section downtown."

(8,100 wds / 9 images)
Falling in love with straight boys. First sex (more or less, & not with them); 1st apartment of my own. New faces at Toronto Dance Theatre (lots on its history & founders: Trish Beatty, Peter Randazzo & David Earle). Hanging around with gay friends who taught me life's possibilities; being introduced to Frank O'Hara's poetry; & seeing the inside of my 1st (sort of) gay bar.

(9,300 wds / 16 images)
Life on Spadina Ave (with notes on its history) -- & on Yonge St: The St Charles, The Quest & The Parkside (where I meet George Hislop, veteran activist still active today). Brief history of earlier homo hangouts, notes on Church & Wellesley (not yet visibly gay), '50s one-man gay movement Jim Egan & gay bar (& women's music) pioneer Sara Ellen Dunlop. A new job (& daily camp) at the University of Toronto Library. Seeing Craig Russell before he was famous. Toronto's first Gay Picnic (notes on the Aug 28 We Demand demo & later Gay Pride fests). Meeting filmmaker Bozo Moyle, museologist Alvyn Austin, artist Bill Rowe. Brainstorming a book; slapping up for my (& The Body Politic's) first Halloween -- & discovering dancer Vincent Warren, first found in Frank O'Hara's poetry.

(9,100 wds / 13 images)
Hanging out at The Manatee (among other spots). Making a movie in whiteface. Tales of CHAT dances at Holy Trinity Church (with reflections by Peter Zorzi); meeting Paul Pearce & David Newcome, friends for life. Saving the CHAT Centre from a firebomb (sort of). Coming out to my family on a visit here, my strategy "don't say it -- show it." Meeting Don Bell, wondrous fuck buddy, maybe before the term was coined. Finishing that book: on Toronto's Union Station. With notes on CHAT, Hugh Brewster, Jearld Moldenhauer & Glad Day Bookshop.



Part Two: 1973-1976
Times between

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Gay consciousness; Cabaret; brunch with mad queens at Fran's. Many moves, the Spadina gang scattered, my new place near Church & Wellesley -- before it was gay downtown. Serendipity with a tall dancer. Running into "those gayrads who do The Body Politic." Meeting Terry Thomas & Craig Sterling of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Vincent Warren, too -- dancers teaching me about work beyond ego.

(5,300 wds / 6 images)
Tales of The Carriage House & The Brunswick Four. Ponderings of place based on trips to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Ottawa & Vancouver Island. Stress at work; more quandarous times between. Finally: more tales of The Parkside.

(6,200 wds / 11 images)
A big management study & later strike at work (offering lessons I'd never forget). A note on John Damien. A tour of the natural (& unnatural) history of David Balfour Park with a side trip to Riverdale. A trip to London, looking for signs that said "Virginia Woolf slept here." A toe in at The Body Politic, working with The Canadian Gay Archives.

(3,600 wds / 5 images)
Starting The Upper Crust Natural Bakery with Paul Pearce & David Newcome. I hate it: store-bound servant to the persnickety, too often reminded that Hitler had been a vegetarian. But I do meet my first lover there: Brent Ledger.

BP 39

Tim Guest

The Peter Pan

No More Shit

Part Three: 1977-1981
Going in every day

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Recruited to The Body Politic (hereafter TBP, its people Beepers), joining among others Gerald Hannon, Ed Jackson, Herb Spiers, Merv Walker, Tim McCaskell, Gary Ostrom, Paul Trollope & Keith Sly. Links here to other stuff on TBP, including On the Origin of The Body Politic, on this site. Tales of TBP's early notoriety, & the Dec 30, 1977 raid after publishing "Men loving boys loving men." Other key players introduced here: Ken Popert, Michael Lynch, Bill Lewis, Michael Riordon, David Gibson, Jonathan Katz & Billy Sutherland. A look at Toronto's first gay owned gay bar, Dudes (& at macho & moustaches), & at the local competition: Esprit & Directions.

(7,400 wds / 21 images)
TBP survives raid, charges & Anita Bryant. First appearances here by Chris Bearchell, Mariana Valverde, Lorna Weir & Alex Wilson. Extensive tales (& pics) of the Queen West scene: art, music, erotic ambiguity -- & allies: Clive Robertson & Lisa Steele; Glenn Schellenberg, Paul Hackney, Tony Malone & How'rd Pope at The Beverley Tavern; artist trio General Idea & Tim Guest. Buddy's opens, soon an institution. A trip to Paris & London, visiting Andrew Hodges working on Alan Turing: The Enigma. A big party (& a hot man) at Gaydays.

(6,100 wds / 13 images)
TBP goes to trial (first of many: we win) after the Dec 1978 raid on The Barracks baths (giving birth to the Right to Privacy Committee); The Hot Tub Club hit later. Robin Hardy appears. Bits on design, new faces, a sweet kid in Montreal -- & début of a column by Jane Rule. Also (Jane's idea): The Great Canadian Lesbian Fiction Contest & (non- winner but still champeen) Gay Bell. I fall in love twice: with Gordon Bonnell at The Bev; & Michael Wade -- found at Paul Aboud's.

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Mikey Wade goes through "going in"; we move in together. 18 East opens, later a lesbian bar (briefly; notes on transitory dyke venues: The Blue Jay by many names, The Rose & The Fly By Night), later still, & moving further east, as The Toolbox. We get Boots (at the Waldorf, later at the Selby). Parliament St makes a bid for "gay downtown"; Katrina's joins The Manatee on St Joseph St (Norman Hay working there, later at TBP). New arrivals: Stephen MacDonald, John Allec, Roger Spalding, Ross Irwin & Leo Casey. TBP covers George Hislop's run for city council -- all year -- to his defeat, much pleasing the police. Plus: a note on poppers!

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The massive Feb 5, 1981 bath raids -- & massive community response, surprising even gay activists. TBP launches Out in the City, first ongoing attention to bars, baths, discos & "the real lives of real lesbians & gay men" (with notes on the Gay Community Appeal & GCDC dances). The winds of "popular appeal" blow chill on the oft obscure Our Image review section; Alex Wilson departs, Jim Tennyson & Andy Fabo too; Sue Golding, thankfully, does not. More raids in June -- & The Battle of Church Street. TBP sees its 10th birthday (see here 39 happy Beepers). Michael Wade goes to Charly's disco & gets picked up by "the only faggot in the city with condoms."

Sex Wars

Safe sex?

New Chaps ad

Bronski Beat

Part Four: 1982-1986
A mysterious disease of unknown origin

1982: January to May 30
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TBP celebrates a decade with Flaunting It! New Beepers here: Craig Patterson, Edna Barker, Danny Cockerline, David Chang & Kevin Orr -- soon busted at Glad Day Bookshop as a porn peddlar. We jump into the Sex Wars over porn, "pedophilia," S/M & public sex: its battles tracked here. LOOT (the Lesbian Organization of Toronto), the feminist mag Broadside & "almost all-girl" band Mama Quilla II, with notes on music notables Lorraine Segato, Susan Cole & others -- & "lesbian separatists trapped in faggots' bodies." A piece on fistfucking gets us busted again, the TBP collective with Kevin Orr becoming The Obscenity 10. A night at Buddy's with Michael Wade & many others; a visit from Jane Rule; & barking boy Victor Bardawill.

1982: May 31 through December
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Round 2 of the "Men loving boys" case (twice not guilty but still in court). Doing It! -- a festival full of faces; Wilde '82, 1st international gay history gabfest; & Track Two -- a flick taking in the bath raids. Michael Wade & I split; he meets Douglas Chambers; we all stay friends. "Gay cancer" gets a more correct (if still awful) moniker: AIDS. Michael Lynch & Bill Lewis take a careful look at it, warning against panic -- & raise panic in the USA. The Fisting Trial comes & goes in a day. I get sick, but don't know why.

1983: January through September
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I get better, go to The Albany & send Jane Rule the 1st of many bar tales. "Mindless euphoria in the dark" gets knocked by doomsayers (with a bit on the 1978 novel of the disco, Dancer From the Dance) -- then celebrated anew even in the face of death. Michael Lynch, Bill Lewis, Randy Coates, Ed Jackson & many others start the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), its press launch featuring Canada's 1st public Person with AIDS, Peter Evans. Kevin Orr goes to trial & gets screwed (sort of). A great success rate in bath raid trials -- then another raid (& more demos). TBP finally wins the "Men loving boys" case -- but only after pissing people off with an ad for Red Hot Video & a piece that says racial prejudice in sex may be a "legitimate expression of inviolable desire." Sue Golding says it's the beginning of the end of The Body Politic. She's right.

1983: October through December
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"Sex is Good" meets the quandary of AIDS; social constructionists meet Romance -- & God: Michel Foucault. I ask "Is There Safe Sex?", suspecting most sex is safer than "sexperts" want to say; then ask: why is promiscuity defined as indiscriminate sex, not random love? 1 Isabella St gets a new incarnation (many more to come); Dudes becomes the Crow Bar but fails to find hot crows. Reflections at The Albany -- on war; some in bed (accompanied) on erotic power, anathema to some feminists if not others.

1984: January through June
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TBP leaves Duncan St, busted as a booze can on its last big night. We run dirty pics in a piece by Tom Waugh, expecting to get busted -- but we don't. The birth of Xtra. More new folks, most women, all young: Gillian Rodgerson, Lee Lyons, Lee Waldorf, Sonja Mills, Barbara Klemme, Robert Mealy, Alan McGuinty & David Vereschagin. Chaps opens; it gets no chaps. Polished gods & macho meanies in ad imagery; bars get told New Wave "Punks are people too." A night of music videos; Annie Lennox a goddess; Bronski Beat demigods. The Battle of the Baths -- won in Toronto, not the USA. HIV is discovered -- twice. Condoms rise (& get censored). And a big pic of 7 bright & sexy Beepers.

1984: July through December
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I visit Jane Rule & Helen Sonthoff in BC, get seduced by a five year old boy there & love it, leading to reflections on eroticism, with thanks to Audre Lorde. Learning "photosynthesis" from Edgar Friedenberg. Picking up a hot boy at Cornelius (briefly for me The Bar) who wants to wear pantyhose: he does; I don't -- but learn lessons in sheer fantasy. I find a new lover (sort of). TBP sees "mammals" cranky with "dinosaurs"; I (a dino) see a way to foster evolution: I quit (but not quite).

1985: January through June
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Theatre! Andrew Alty in town with The Go Go Boys (I become a groupie), & Neil Bartlett with Pornography: A Spectacle. I get both to write; Neil does "Man in Frock" -- himself. TBP gets back last of the stuff seized in the Dec 30, 1977 raid -- on Apr 15, 1985. We run an ad asking for a Black houseboy: huge debates; a collective schism (the end is nigh). Teaching Robyn Budd & Dale Bolivar my job. My first AIDS funeral, for lovely Don Bell; Archives savior James Fraser dies in Vancouver.

1985: July through December
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Sex & the State, fab history: Alan Bérubé, Joan Nestle, Jeffrey Weeks, George Chauncey, Esther Newton, John D'Emilio, Neil Bartlett, Edgar Friedenberg & lots more. Going to work for Merv Walker without really leaving TBP; doing work for ACT with Kevin Orr & Ed Jackson. Tales of boys to Neil; a kid on the subway to Edgar; to everyone a vision at Cornelius I'd remember all my life: Kevin Bryson, dancing.

1986: January through April
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Neil Bartlett on Edmund White's Caracole, no one in it gay but a gay vision still: "imformed, revealing, powerful." Débuts of Komrads, Showbiz & Colby's; real life at Trax vs "tourist versions" of gay life as "thrill addled promiscuity." The Parkside & The Quest bite the dust; The St Charles soon to go. A tour of The Barn (for a very long time The Bar); being a tourist myself in a Montreal strip club. And picking up a sweet roadie at The Barn: "A good fit," he said. It was.

1986: May through December
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AIDS educators say Get the Facts -- & give way too many. Lots on latex: Condom Sense, even Fun with Condoms!; safe- sexperts as gung ho camp counsellors in Hot Horny & Healthy workshops, treating gay men as if "their culture lacked norms & moral values." Gram Campbell, lover of the Archives' Alan Miller gets PCP, for Beepers the closest AIDS had come. The TBP collective household splits; Jonathan Katz says "This is the way the '60s end." We soon see the end of The Body Politic itself. "Sexual orientation" makes it into the Ontario Human Rights Code at last; we celebrate at Rogues, soon to be Rawhide. I meet lovely visions over the trivia game at The Barn; lose one unhad but have him nonetheless: "basking in him, suddenly just there, imagine!" Life in The Bar as my sacrament. Finally: a big pic of the last Beepers.

Oral Sex


The Steps

Cabot Tower

Part Five: 1987-1991

1987: January through July
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The farewell issue of The Body Politic -- its cover an obit meant to sell. Neil Bartlett sends me a manuscript that becomes Who Was That Man? A Present for Mr Oscar Wilde. I become a computer geek raising money for ACT, joining old Beepers, among them Joan Anderson (who's not gay but you'd never guess). Tales of busboys at The Barn: Beanstalk Brent & busboy Martin, working class stud. Church & Wellesley goes visibly gay (I get bashed there, if unscathed). Gerald Hannon leaves what was TBP; we send him off with bits of his worst work. I meet, again, a rangy Newf: Barry becomes "the greatest erotic obsession of my life."

1987: August through December
(5,600 wds / 5 images)
We say 'bye to Buddy's & lots of briefly lesbian bars, leaving the Chez Moi, then just The Rose. Bill Lewis ends up at Toronto General & dies just weeks later. I stand at The Necropolis with boys from The Barn for one of them, Andy Armstrong. David Newcome loses his sight to AIDS; he'll live on blind (& determined) for many years. The City of Toronto finally pays attention to AIDS -- among straights, in effect telling gay men: you do not exist. We make it quite clear that we do.

1988: January through March
(5,300 wds / 4 images)
Norman Hay dies (not of AIDS), a model of grace to the end. Barry tells me he's in love -- with a man not me. I find out I have HIV (likely had for years); at ACT I meet many gay men with AIDS, most wonders, a few smarmy pity seekers -- but for all AIDS has become that most surprising thing: normal. Kevin Orr (having escaped ACT but not AIDS) kicks off a new safe sex effort: Talking Sex. I launch the promo with safe sex blasphemy: Condoms? "Yuck."

1988: April through December
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To Jane: tales of Trax & a twin. I court an uptight pixy who teaches me top from bottom; we never get to bed. Esther Newton & Shirley Walton help me see why, finding distinctions more enlightening than "homo / hetero" -- of erotic persona, role, & acts, in surprising combos. I get busboy (now trucker) Martin in bed again & ponder another distinction -- class -- aided by a too polite party I flee for The Toolbox & a man in leather. My 1st medical mystery tour to Sunnybrook Hospital & Dr Anita Rachlis ("Dragon lady of AIDS": she's not). Michael Lynch kicks off butt kicking AIDS Action Now! & the 1st AIDS Memorial. Barry takes me to Douglas Chamber's farm Stonyground, where Michael Wade is not well. I visit Jane Rule & Helen Sonthoff again on Galiano; I yak too much about Barry. I get home to find he's got a job in Japan. At ACT I get miffed at "Dither = Death" -- but get over it with a boxer faced truck driver / table dancer at Colby's.

1989: January through June
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My housemates Terry Farley & Ward Beattie sell the house; friends offer places to stay: I find I still live in gift culture. Then I find (at last) a ghetto highrise. My parents visit, my coming out -- as HIV+ -- made reassuring. Lives, & General Idea's art, dominated by drugs. Michael Wade gets cranky on AZT. Barry goes to Japan, his boyfriend follows; I send lots of letters & hot men in leather. I'm treated to England by Paul Pearce & David Newcome, getting Andrew Alty at Kew & Neil Bartlett on the Thames, finding an angel in Devon -- & learning the limits of words when, as Virginia Woolf said, "one ought to stand outside with one's hands folded until the thing itself has made itself visible."

1989: July through December
(7,700 wds / 11 images)
Is There Safe Sex? (Again.) Yes -- but is it sex to you? "Don't suck, don't swallow, don't take it up the bum" -- are sexperts all tops? Or vengeful bottoms? We come up with advice less paranoid, based on common Canadian Safer Sex Guidelines, doing simple pieces: Anal Sex (high risk) & Oral Sex (low); what acceptable risk means to you matters in sex, as in life. Too few believe it, least of all American drama queens wallowing in angst over cocksucking. In Japan Barry's boyfriend dumps him; I urge him out to Tokyo bars with dirty talk from Toronto. Jane Rule asks if I'm ever afraid of men I bring home; I tell her of one who might have expected me to be, but I wasn't. A bit on the AIDS hospice Casey House, misguided charity for safe "baby seals" & ACT donor drives tapping not pity but pride. Finally, Kevin Hunt, a lovely man "less a butch stud than a boy."

1990: January through March
(5,700 wds / 5 images)
Gram Campbell, designer gone blind of AIDS, dies, his parental funeral so awful we throw another more fitting. Chuck Grochmal gets one a month later. At ACT I meet Mike Robért, big, beautiful, gloriously silly -- just told his T cell count is 20. His presence becomes a gift. Barry returns then flees right away -- with me, to The Rock. Extensive notes here on its culture & history, my own Ode to Newfoundland.

1990: April through December
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Michael Wade goes into hospital with something minor; two months later he's dead. Friend Peter Day dies, too. I meet Mikey's parents for the first time; Douglas Chambers memorializes him at Stonyground. Barry & I write notes in Japanese (mine not good but I love the look of it). I play mascot to Pittsburgh bikers at The Toolbox; find a Mother's Day wet shorts fest at The 457. A look at Woody's, the city's most community minded gay bar, & the crew who made it so: Alex Korn, Dean Orodico, Steve Clegg & scads of others: lots of pics. Barry writes to say he's getting laid -- lots, a macho pig about it; I give him shit. We split via Transpacific post. More of wondrous Mike Robért, who says one night: "If you fall, I'll catch you." Neil Bartlett sends me Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall.

1991: January through May
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Chaps goes country as Badlands; I hang around for sweet pool players. Friends take on daily care of Michael Lynch; he gets ready to die & then doesn't. Trips with David Newcome to the Pentamidine clinic; seeing Mike Robért there for the last time. Life at ACT, with some key issues & players: Yvette Perreault, Lesli Gaynor & Ruthann Tucker (in drag as Peggy Lee). The rise of People With HIV / AIDS as an "identity"; it's the (messy) Age of Identity Politics.

1991: June through December
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Skip 'n' Go Naked on the patio of The Toolbox, lovely boys over pool tables: wondrous, living connections my antidote to death. Taking care of Michael Lynch: his last Pride Day, his self scripted memorial, & his legacy. Finding ease with dancer Tony at Colby's. A funeral for one man, Randy Coates, that I see is about all of us; an AIDS vigil for many that seems about no one (the failure of language again). In England Gillian Rodgerson & I gaze on Virginia Woolf & the doorbell of Lord Sackville at Knole. I get tied up by Sue Golding. On the plane home I'm in love with "two quietly butch pups." Barry returns briefly; returns again years later: I ponder passion doomed not to last.




Part Six: 1992-1995
Dancing boys

1992: January through June
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More Colby's: playful eroticist Kelly & obliging backroom boys. ACT grinds me down; I go off sick for a while, try to work on ACT's Care Team Manual, based on our time with Michael Lynch. I don't, but it does get done. Kevin Orr flies off to England. Yet more memorials, for bartenders at Woody's & friend Don Stephen; I marvel at how we mourn. Pride '92 approaches "true queerness." Life in The Bar takes over the street, at least on Church St: lots of details; nice pics; & spot demographics of "gay downtown," with links to more pics & data.

1992: July through December
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Afternoons at Colby's -- & a sweet naïf: Little Ricky. I'm smitten. A frustrating office hunt for ACT pays off in a big, truly public space, the Access Centre. More Colby's, the night time A Team: Chippendale knock offs as big as furniture, if some still endearing. The Imperial Court & more dancing boys in Sightlines, one of them Ricky.

1993: January through May
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Colby's kills off the afternoon B Team; I lose Ricky, but at Woody's find Olympic boxer Mark Leduc. I'm smitten again -- at work, by a sunny lion cub, in time an obsession. ACT "restructures" -- code for a coup d'etat, Ed Jackson & Yvette Perreault axed; staff unionize. I flee to England, see Gillian Rodgerson, Kevin Orr, Andrew Alty, Neil Bartlett, & Kevin Bryson as nude centrefold in Diseased Pariah News. Back home ACT's mess goes public; we stage a counter coup. It fails at first & my health does too; I go off sick again. I rediscover Ricky, bed him at last -- & hear all about his girlfriends. We find a love "utterly impractical."

1993: June (nearly) through December
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The permanent AIDS Memorial, brainchild of Michael Lynch, opens in Cawthra Park; its landscape designer Alex Wilson later gets a Memorial Garden of his own. See descriptions of both, with pictures -- & pics of the Jurrassic Park Cruise: Beeper dinos Chris Bearchell, Irit Shimrat, Robin Hardy, Bob Gallagher, Sue Golding, Ed Jackson, Gerald Hannon & me, with skipper Philip Fotheringham. At ACT our coup pays off, the boss losing his head. I return; the place explodes again -- with energy, ideas & clear principles at last: health promotion & community action. A new boss squashes all that, my lion cub, & me. I leave ACT again -- for the last time. Ricky gets a job, taking it all off at Remington's (a tour here of the place & some of its boys), until they say he's too skinny. He goes to Venezuela -- to get married. With ACT types I'm on another care team, for co- worker Terrell Cress. Soon David Newcome needs one too. Jane Rule's father dies; a young woman once a kid at her pool drowns in an accident. "It's been an obscene autumn," she says. 1993: The Year From Hell. But it ends with happier prospects -- saved for 1994.

1994: January through Easter
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George Hislop hosts older gents & boys who seek them out at George's Townhouse. I love it & tell many tales, of one boy especially: Shel. Soon he's no mere hustler & I not a trick. Terrell Cress is well enough to have friends in for Christmas; Shel comes with me & charms all. David Newcome fades away, dying on Feb 4. Paul Pearce & I find a house to share. Terrell & I take an (involuntary) tour of the many wings & floors of Sunnybrook. At Easter I get Shel & a card: "Love always." Then suddenly he's gone.

1994: April through December
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Back at Pink Triangle Press to teach history (clearly lost). To Vancouver on Press biz, then Jane & Helen on Galiano. At home Shel's back; I'll see him for years. Paul & I move in together; on the same day Terrell Cress dies. Same sex spousal rights become the epitome of gay politics; I think they're a crock. At The Barn, erotic serendipity falls to contrivance, & "the crate." I hear Kevin Bryson died "last Tuesday," which Tuesday I don't know: I write "A reflection on one loss too many," about Kev & all the men like him (Kevin Hunt one), "all these casual, deeply pleasing connections" we've lost but aren't sure we're allowed to mourn. For Christmas I give Shel a dangerous gift: my love, in too many of words.

1995: January through September
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Début of Fiction & Other Truths, a film by Lynne Fernie & Aerlyn Weissman on Jane Rule, full of "simple, perfect shocking sense" on, among much else, kids & sex -- of which we'll hear much more too soon. Talking politics with rights advocates (& friends of Jane) Shelagh Day & Gwen Brodsky (they don't like spousal rights either). Another bar memorial, for Beanstalk Brent. Paul finds a man in Balfour Park; within weeks they're lovers. I find less domesticated bliss: the boys of Remington's; you'll meet many here (most notably Alex, Russian defector). I pick up a skinhead at Sneakers; he says he's a Nazi. Tales of Pink Triangle Press, in workplace & community politics now a far cry from TBP.

1995: October through December
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Two tales too gripping: the Oct 1995 Quebec referendum; Gerald Hannon's ongoing mess with Ryerson Polytechnic & the Toronto Sun-- accused of pro-pedo pedagogy. It's "Men loving boys" again, 18 years later if with a new twist: Gerald's sideline career as a prostitute -- making for a media-whore feeding frenzy: "Kid- sex hooker prof scandal!" See links to lots of related stuff. Pink Triangle Press sees its own minor moral panic, building barricades against "loonies." Gay ones. I say goodbye & retire to history. Robin Hardy dies; so does Danny Cockerline, both with HIV but neither of AIDS; I get more of Robin years later in his book The Crisis of Desire. (Alas, not a word in this chapter about bars.)


Young, Proud

Zero Patience

Rainbow flags

Part Seven: 1996-1999
Looking backwards (to look beyond)

History: The Bar's & my own
(5,800 wds / 8 images)
A wrap of my Life in The Bar (fading to a few working boys) & the bars themselves, old spots & new, with pics. Bits on '90s busts at Remington's, raided on a "Sperm Attack Monday," The Bijou "porno bar," & a cop panty raid in 2000 on The Club as "The Pussy Palace." My (amicable) exit from Paul Pearce's place, to a building full of people with HIV, a few not -- among them Shel. "Love always," he said in 1994; I don't see him much, but believe him still.

History: As history
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Teaching it (without success) at Pink Triangle Press; digging in it on my own. Notes on researching The Body Politic & gay group households of its time: useful explorations if none finished, detours on what became The road to The Bar (ie: this work). A look back at the sweeping polymorphous perversity that birthed gay liberation in the '70s -- & how we left it behind in the quest for "equal rights" as a (spurious) "minority," leading to same sex spousal rights for "respectable" homos, won at potential cost to less conventional queers. A bit on the ironic role of Ken Popert & Brian Mossop: from "Monogamy is theft" to a Supreme Court case on "family status" (seen as spouse touting, if not). From "Gay Liberation is People Liberation" to homos as a species defined by a "gay gene" -- crap, but lots of homos lap it up.

Media: Beepers as "journalists" -- not
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A history of the homo press in America (TBP included!), titled Unspeakable if in fact unforgivable: pioneers cast not as activist but "journalists," a massive revision of history. Why Beepers were never "journalists" (with a link to On the Origin of The Body Politic) -- & why I rarely use that weasel word without disowning quotation marks. TBP as a political project never "objective" -- if learning to be "news looking, news acting"; in time defining its "audience" not as real people but a statistical abstract: The Mass Reader, marketing "liberation" to selected "consumers" -- & doing it badly. Sue Golding says: "We were the reader; we should have stuck with it." TBP's "journalistic" offspring do not; its bastard inheritor in another medium does: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Media: Journalistic "ethics" vs real ones
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Adventures with the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (Canada): they want homophobia horror stories of old but get me holding their own feet the fire. Or trying to: see a link to Gay "journalism": What for? Later they talk "ethics" -- gay fiddler Ashley MacIsaac exposes a penchant for piss; should they tell? -- never getting past the "standards" of their trade. See my response, Journalistic "ethics" -- & real ones, here. Gillian Rodgerson editing London's Diva proves herself a true Beeper, fearlessly not "objective." At Pink Triangle Press there are none left, just "journalists."

Sex: From erotic life to death by banality
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Sex as connection -- "loverdom, fraternity, bar friendship, fuckbuddyhood" -- vs the paranoid Culture of Death. Robin Hardy on a boy in East Berlin: "He was hungry; I fed him my body." Promiscuity teaches; we learn with our bodies. Reflections by Andrew Hodges on human vs machine intelligence. My own on pornography & meaning, with Roland Barthes on porn's inherent banality & Gerald Hannon on sex & money (is $ex really sex?). Then, inevitably, AIDS. Randy Shilts gives us Hollywood heroes, villains, & plague rat Patient Zero in And the Band Played On; filmmaker John Greyson answers with Zero Patience, reflecting real community (& it's a musical!). Endless doomsaying by "fuck pigs turned finger waggers." Ian Young in The Sonewall Experiment rewrites history as "omens of the plague." William Hoffman in As Is disses (as he longs for) "thrill addled promiscuity"; a man lectures from a backroom, telling not of human lives but "faceless fucks" -- in guilt addled detail. I tell tales of my own "to counter lies told about our lives by too many blinkered, whinging jerks," their worst crime banality: "cheap formula taking the place of genuine human perception."

Sex: Policing desire, playing politics, pushing pills
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US gay glossy Out goes gaga over cocksucking, paranoid anecdote peddled as "facts" -- refuted years before in the Canadian Safer Sex Guidelines. We dig behind the ideology of advice: to "Just Say No" we say "Know." John Maxwell of ACT pushes "options, choices, taking control for yourself" -- based on principles of health promotion (see samples here). Walt Odets says sexperts have been "not only withholding info from gay men, but lying to them." Lesli Gaynor & Dionne Falconer diss dental dams for dykes as a "techno fix." Condoms give us "Latex, Secrets & Silence"; ACT wants us to talk unsafe sex. Some do; the media have a field day with "barebacking." More Identity Politics at ACT, meant to shut up uninfected fags & dykes. Drugs, endless drugs: "Hit fast, hit hard" -- human lives hit hardest of all. "Cocktail" promo fills the ghetto. "All I want is a cure & my friends back" -- the world back as it was before AIDS? I don't want to go back: "I want all that we've learned from AIDS to still be in the world long after AIDS is gone." Finally: God in the Garden of Eden, wanting to keep us innocent. Meaning ignorant. We chose knowledge. Even over eternal life.

Citizenship: In the world & at work
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The public good, once honoured, falls to corporate "efficiency" & private "charity." Ontario's Tories scorn public amenity, privatize as much as they can, & criminalize panhandling to push poverty out of sight. Too many gay people support them, class not "a gay issue" to anyone but indigent queers, seen as scum or servants. At work we're all servants, turned "objects" too stupid to make decisions; Paulo Friere calls this a form of violence. Modern management studies (I read a lot of it) says people work for self esteem, though most don't get it; Healthy Work says that when they don't they get sick. I try to put these ideas to work at Pink Triangle Press -- & fail: it's no longer gift culture but cash culture. Notes on equality as sameness in fact creating inequality. My ideas finally push Ken Popert too far & I'm fired -- as the last volunteer -- from what has become "just one more business on Church St."

Citizenship: In the city & on the street
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The Tories swamp Toronto's messy democracy in "Megacity." Citizens fight back, if few gay ones; Xtra deems the whole thing "not a gay issue." But urban issues must be gay issues: without cities, gay life would not exist. Michael Riordon celebrates rural fags & dykes in Out Our Way -- finding most not out at all; I say it's "a compelling case for living smack at Church & Wellesley." A sociologist looks at cities as A World of Strangers who try to avoid each other by finding ways to "privatize" public space, cars the best way of all, making squeegee kids "urban contagion epitomized." Gay men (& even lesbians) bask in the world of strangers, our "ambient eroticism making a crowd a rich, alluring sea." Cities as varied, diverse, aggregate & tolerant, making gay life possible -- even as we diss tolerance, demand acceptance -- & then try to make ourselves "acceptable." Church & Wellesley goes from gay nabe to gay theme park, a replica of reality that in time only tourists can afford. When we're priced out, will we find another "ghetto"? Will there be one? Or will we perhaps not need one?

Xtra #387
Part Eight: 2000
And now?

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Having come all this way, where are we? Who are we? A parochial "minority" concerned only with itself? Seems so, anything labelled "gay" likely to be predictable, unimaginative -- finally boring; what passes for gay & lesbian thought, queer theory, locked by arcane lingo in the academy. Bert Archer predicts The End of Gay on evidence too glib (but he may be right), saying gay / lesbian vets must "free succeeding generations from the chains they took up to pull us into the modern age" -- among those burdens the very idea of fixed sexual identities. I meet kids in Buddies in Bad Times Summer '99 Project already unburdened, digging up history, making it their own -- as theatre. A look at long dissed gay sensibility as a perspective "oblique maybe, but precisely because of that informed, revealing, powerful," & at our creation of spaces not so much gay as free of compulsory heterosexuality, their expansion -- rather than the consolidation of "Gay" -- perhaps our true task. To end: a lovely if surprising boy at Sneakers.

Dead Rebels
A tangent on Canada's odd history

Losers (Who sometimes win)
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Originally a too-big sidebar to a 1995 chapter, taking off from that year's Quebec referendum (Canada spared division -- if just by a hair) to look back on heroes unheralded & losses held dear. Revised, expanded, & made a separate file, Sept 2000.

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December 1999 / Last revised: May 14, 2007
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