THE START-UP OF THE BODY POLITIC -- FALL, 1971
(Background; Bringing Out The First Issue; The Collective; Contributors; Cover; Etc; Initiation Rites; Accession File#1)
It probably isn't necessary to say much about Guerilla in explaining how The Body Politic began but it provides extra background. Among the people around that paper who were out were Ken Hutchinson, his lover Bob Wright, Peter Kuiper, Richard Zorniak, Holly Devor, and my lover Charlie Dobie. Ken sometimes signed himself The Lavender Kid in its pages---see Hey Faggot, January/1971. His example in being out, the occasional gay article he wrote, and the acceptance he received within Guerilla were factors that had encouraged openness around the paper. There were others, less centrally involved, who may have been around from time to time and who may or may not have been out. Charlie remembers seeing Tim McCaskell in the office a couple of times, for instance. And later on there were further gay people who joined the paper. I was not part of Guerilla myself, my newfound connection being through Charlie and through beginning to write a few gay articles for it.
Peter Kuiper had his own presses in a print shop next door and The Library steambaths was a customer of his. He steered them to Guerilla and at times The Library was almost its only advertiser. It was their ads that enabled the paper to survive the winter of 1970-71. Even when something like the newly-founded Pizza-Pizza took out an ad, the difference was that the baths paid cash and Pizza-Pizza paid in pizzas. (Peter K. attended early BP meetings and helped with technical advice. But he and Bob and Ken went off to Leeuwarden, in The Netherlands, where they were going to run a print shop and community store. Peter was killed in a car accident soon after. Ken died of HIV infections in July, 1989.)
With Toronto Gay Action, of which some of these people were members, most of this group had pushed for reprinting of A Gay Manifesto by Carl Wittman. This was spread through two issues in July, 1971. Guerilla itself had been receptive to listing gay organizations in its community pages and to occasional articles, but it was beginning to be pressed for more complete coverage. This caused a certain amount of chagrin among some of the non-gay members of the collective.
Obviously gay people themselves were an integral, open, and important part of Guerilla and there wasn't hostility. A place was usually found for copy if gay people made a point of bringing it in. But having a minimum of even one article per issue was enough to cause grumblings from some of the staff that it was being turned into a gay paper. One of these remarked to Charlie that he didn't think hairdressers and ballet dancers read Guerilla. This was in the context of being a "working class paper." (The paper was basically counter-cultural but had Windsor Marxist roots and there were competing visions of what it was trying to do. So much so it led to an attempted coup a little later, and eventually to a real change of tone.)
From the gay community's side, the negotiating for space was a source of a certain amount of dissatisfaction. That's reflected in a petulant letter of mine published in the Sept.8, 1971 issue demanding Guerilla take an editorial stand on gay liberation. Herb Spiers followed up with a letter saying they hadn't really answered me properly. They had said their coverage of the Aug.28 rally in Ottawa in that very issue was an indication of their attitude, so they didn't need to make any further statement. This was rather self-serving. They'd not really helped to build interest in that demo and if the story and photo hadn't been supplied by TGA, along with adequate persuasion to print it, little notice would have been taken. (See Jerry Moldenhauer for comment on this in the tenth anniversary issue of the BP.) In a subsequent 1971 article of mine (Screwed At The Pretzel Bell) on the zap of the Pretzel Bell they edited out remarks to that effect. This resulted in a row in their office between myself and Mike Constable.
In any case this illustrates that although there were strong gay connections with Guerilla and the paper was open to us, there was still only so much opportunity for the gay community to use it as a resource. It probably would have accepted doing a certain amount of regular gay news coverage, though who got to edit it would have been of concern. But it would never have been able to serve as the kind of house organ that the BP became.
Partly because they realized this but mostly because the time seemed right for an attempt to speak directly with other gay people, to circumvent the straight media, there had been talk among gay people both at Guerilla and TGA about starting our own paper. Certainly Guerilla's example was encouragement to go ahead and try.
At this particular TGA meeting we had, as often, divided into smaller interest groups around consciousness-raising, education, the media, etc. For no particular reason I had always thought this was a few days prior to the Ottawa rally but it was probably the meeting that led to the zap of the Pretzel Bell or the one after it. That would place it after the August 28 demo. Whether what Jerry Moldenhauer did that day came out of the group he was in or out of the blue, I don't know. In any case at the end of the meeting in the basement of The Hall on Huron St. he made an announcement. Since people had been talking about starting a gay paper, to get the ball rolling there would be a meeting at his place on Kendal Avenue. As I say, within TGA people were drifting towards the idea from various directions, feminists like Jude and Aline, people like Tony Metie and Paul MacDonald for whom the BP was a natural offshoot of gay activism, people associated with Guerilla, people like Jerry who was heavily influenced by the example of Gay Sunshine.
If I've dated this correctly then the initial BP meeting at Jerry's would have taken place in the first half of September, 1971. There were probably about ten of us who attended. Subsequent meetings took place both there and in other people's homes. There was at least one at Alan Falconer's for instance and several at Charlie's and my place. Jerry offered Kendal as a mailing address.
It's not really proper or possible to assign brownie points beyond that, as far as the first issue goes. Clearly a gay paper was in the cards. Everone contributed and I think it would have happened with or without any one of us.
BRINGING OUT THE FIRST ISSUE
Jude and Aline, the two women on the collective, made an issue of the use of last names. It was their argument that these were marks of patriarchal authority and we should leave them out. Later behaviour on their part and interviews they gave elsewhere suggest their motivation was perhaps not quite what they said it was. (See below in the Collective section for further on this.) Be that as it may, it was a symbolic statement they were after, and it was in that spirit that this gesture was offered, as contorted as it may or may not seem. Not everyone had been a part of this discussion or went along with the idea. Years later I heard suggestions that we were motivated by closetry. For most of us that is as far from the truth as possible, simply a laughable idea.
I did worry about fudging the issue of standing up to be counted. I tried to show my sympathy for the one aspect by listing myself as Pete on the masthead, and handle the other by putting Peter Zorzi with the article I wrote. None of this is very significant by 1990 but in the early 1970's a lot of things were being newly confronted on a community basis. 1971-72 in particular was a time when gay males and lesbians in Toronto were making an evaluation of each other that would last for years, and that would determine to what degree they were able to see each other as allies. The importance of this time to that issue shouldn't be underestimated. (It was in December of 1971 that The Cunts delivered their statement within CHAT [Community Homophile Association of Toronto.])
Oct. 19, Charlie rented an IBM electric typewriter to use in preparing all the final copy for layout. So the work meetings would have taken place the weekend of Oct. 23-24, 1971. We all met at our place, 265 Richmond St. W., now demolished, for a day-long, perhaps two-day, meeting. (From our backyard you could see fifty feet away, the front door of the Finnish sauna that was to become The Barracks.) We hashed out the final selection of stories (there wasn't much left over), pictures, matters of policy, placement, covers, use of last names vis a vis patriarchy, and so on. As this went on people took turns typing copy into neat newspaper column format and we did an initial layout. We used a large type-face in order to make the paper larger.
Possibly on Monday, we took everything to the Guerilla offices on Queen St. E. and did paste-up for a couple of days. I remember a fedora-topped Holly Devor wandering in to look over our shoulders, and giving a few from-on-high words of semi-approval along the lines of "you boys" doing something that might at some point in the future actually become worthwhile, at which time she might be willing to consider offering us a few words of advice on how to do what we were doing. I didn't quite know what to make of that but took it as the closest she could bring herself to offering a compliment to what was largely a group of males.
We had another squabble over photos. Jerry had hoped to illustrate the paper with his portfolio of male photo studies. Some were nudes, some not. Jude and Aline raised the spectre of objectification. We had to at least try to come to some accomodation with this concern, or find some way of answering it, if gay men and lesbians were going to work together.
But Jerry, baiting them, countered that the photos should go in because the people in them were so (and here I paraphrase) cute. Well by that point no one was going to ride to his rescue. The argument that ensued was as much a personality clash as a debate on the worth of the photos. And on that basis, Jerry lost.
Now he was laying out a different picture, a nude male, almost identical to some that had been previously argued over. Innocuous enough, I think it was in fact the one used on the back cover of the second issue. At this point though, it had become an attempt at the last minute to unilaterally override a collective decision. Jerry could be infuriatingly disingenuous, knowing something he was doing would start a row but batting his eyes and pretending total surprise that it upset anyone. He received his slap on the wrist and we went back to work. Gerry Hannon's comments on the BP's second issue in his tenth anniversary article suggest the discussion of these photos had simplified, a few months later, to a straightforward reference to their merit.
We finally finished laying out the paper and the next day Charlie took the flats up to Newsweb in Willowdale, in a taxi. (I paid $200- to have the paper printed and received that money back a month later when Charlie, Tony, and I each donated a further $100- to form the corporate kitty. For 5000 copies the total printing charge came to $255- (billed to Guerilla by mistake). With other expenses the first BP cost about $300- in all. After the paper was printed Charlie plus Paul and/or David picked it up and brought it down to our flat on Richmond St. Tony's article would mean we expected it on the streets before Halloween and from what I can remember the first invoice represents the day we got it back rather than the day we took it in. People went out with it right away which suggests the first sales should have been Oct. 28, 1971. In any case it would have been within a week of that date.
From then on everyone took bundles and sold them where they could. The bars and clubs were assigned and covered on a regular basis. Tony Metie for one, did subway entrances a fair bit.
My particular beat was the St. Charles and the Parkside. I'd stand on Yonge St by the front door to Charlie's, and occasionally at the back door where there was a lot of lane traffic to and from the Parkside. Sometimes I did it alone, sometimes with someone else.
From the first the response was good. It wasn't hard to part with a quarter, the price of a draft. Over several months I encountered only one gay person hostile to what we were doing. This guy came lunging out of the Parkside sputtering that "the body politic" was Cardinal Newman's phrase and did I know who Cardinal Newman was and how dare we usurp his words, etc. etc.. Pointing him out in his blue blazer and his U of T insignia a couple of years later, it turns out Charlie once sat at an adjacent table to him in the Parkside, had heard him brag about getting somebody at U of T fired for being gay. Even for those days it was strange he had any friends left to tell this story to, and that they would continue to sit with him. But it takes all kinds.
This person aside, we were generally welcomed by gay people. I'd hoped at least for curiousity and the reaction was certainly positive well beyond that. Comments were often "it's about time" or "I've got to have one of these." Many people would let me know after they'd read it and ask when the next issue would be out. The moment was obviously right. If the first issue comes across as something of a political tract, well I suppose it was. Most people had not had this sort of thing applied to their own lives before and they were open to it. Obviously the paper and its writers would have to improve. The first step, though, was getting it started and seeing what it looked like.
At the Parkside I occasionally sold by the door onto Yonge St., but for the most part at the doors on Breadalbane where all the action was. This is where my main hassles were too. There was an ongoing TGA and CHAT campaign against the Parkside's habit of inviting the cops in to do washroom surveillance. As a result of both surveillance and entrapment there were continuing arrests over a long period in this and other places. In January/72 there had been at least ten arrests in this tavern alone and people being dragged out of the downstairs washroom by the cops was a familiar sight. As a result of the washroom battle the Parkside was at one point even throwing out any customers wearing gay buttons. (It was, surprise, surprise, our money that interested them, not our liberation. In the words of Pat the manager that I lost no opportunity to quote, we should be grateful to have any place at all.) For reference see Charlie's and my articles in Guerilla on the Parkside campaign.
In any case while on BP duty at the door we'd try to give CHAT phoneline cards to people being taken out, hold these up to the cruiser windows for them to read, try to slip them in the car. The cops would tell us to bugger off, threaten to arrest us too, and so on.
Since Parkside management was not friendly of course it would regularly try to stop us from selling, though even this was unpredictable. If we were inside they'd often kick us out. And if we were right outside the door they'd tell us to shove off and we'd move a couple of feet out onto the sidewalk, public property. Then they'd call the cops. This bar was such a sweetheart deal in terms of meeting arrest quotas, all the Parkside had to do was blink and they were all over the place. Particularly if it was plainclothes, vice rather than a uniform, they'd make us move not only across the street but up to the corner of Yonge. They'd leave. We'd go back to where we'd started from. It was all some sort of ritual dance, a legal gavotte. Much of the boundaries of the procedure had been laid out as a result of Guerilla and Harbinger vendors trying to flog their product in the streets.
In spite of all this the Parkside remained such a popular place you had to arrive by 7pm for any chance at all of getting a seat (no seat, no drink in those days.) Mind you this also had something to do with the fact that Toronto had a dire shortage of gay bars. Whatever its problems the Parkside was always a place without any pretensions and I have to say it remained my favorite haunt until its demise in the early eighties.
Of the other bars, The Famous Door (inheritor of the piano bar crowd from Letros and later to become the Quest) was afraid we would upset their customers. Sometimes though, they'd let someone stand inside the door to sell. Once in a while the St. Charles would give permission to work the aisles too. Most often we'd just blitz a place, walking through selling from table to table. We'd be half done before anyone noticed; or waiters would turn a blind eye. If there were unfriendly employees around, one person could try to tie them up with an argument long enough for another to finish working the room. In any case we were at the bars with the first issue of the BP several days a week for several months.
(N.B. I've haven't updated these rudimentary sketches from 1991-2, their purpose being simply to say who was there at the time.)
Where the idea of a collective came from? Well Guerilla was a collective, Gay Sunshine was a collective, being a collective was hardly news in those days.
Most of the people involved were members of Toronto Gay Action. TGA itself sprang up in June/July 1971 out of an activist caucus within CHAT. TGA'ers took part not only in TGA and CHAT but also UTHA, from which CHAT had come. It was a lot of the same people in different guises.
Bart Moncq, Aline Gregory (Aileen, on the masthead) and Jude sometimes disagreed with each other but in my mind they formed a vocal trio with a radical feminist perspective.
For more on Jude and Aline see the Globe & Mail Weekend Magazine, Apr. 7, 1977. Aline was part of a group of women who tried to occupy the Guerilla offices in March of 1972. She ran for Parliament and eventually ended up back in the suburbs with a husband. She was a co-founder of the NAC (National Action Committee for the Status of Women.) Jude stopped talking to males altogether. Although we had gotten along, when I ran into her in Food City at Gerrard & Pape a couple of years later she turned her back on me.
(2011 Note -- Since Jude and Aline were so vociferous in seeing last names as patriarchal remnants and opposing their use in The BP on that basis, it seems only fair to refer again to the Weekend Magazine article mentioned above. By Elaine Dewar and on the decline of a radical voice within feminism, it consisted of interviews with four feminists of the early 1970's. Jude is the only one whose photo does not appear. When first contacted she tells Dewar there are innocents involved and she'd have to think hard about using her own name. In the end she'll only agree to be written about "if you call me by my political name" i.e. Jude. In the interview itself there are references to a painful divorce case and difficult child custody issues. Fair enough but it would have been nice if she'd been as forthcoming in 1971. As for Aileen, I believe she ran for the board of CHAT under the name Aileen Gordon in 1972. A celebration of her life and accomplishments following her death in 2008 seems to have no reference to this period.)
Bart and I meet on the street once in a long while. Occasionally he exhibits his drawings around town.
These three and Jerry Moldenhauer were the most frequent to directly clash at meetings. My own sympathies in these particular arguments were more likely to lie in their direction than Jerry's. Which is not to say this side was right and that side was wrong. We were all young. What was lacking on all sides was the understanding that even when you were right for one reason you might be wrong for another.
Jerry Moldenhauer was upfront in hoping for a gay literary journal with himself as editor. It was clear though that neither part of that scenario was being entertained by the group. He did ask at least for permission to write in the name of the collective to people in other cities to let them know what we were up to. Which was fine. Beyond that of course he did a lot of photography and saw the BP as a showcase for his work.
Various people were important to the startup of the paper and Jerry obviously had a major role. He generated interest in what we were doing, promoted it, talked it up a lot to others. And of course he was the one who stood up at the TGA meeting. To put a further perspective on matters, I emphasize I'm only discussing issue #1 here. As for his great influence on The BP beyond the first issue, both through his own actions and by virtue of the people he attracted to the paper, is there anyone who really doubts that? But that's someone else's story to tell.
He'd been talking about starting a gay bookstore, had already occasionally set up a table at various events and places, was beginning to cart books around in his packsack to sell. (See University of Toronto Homophile Association files for further reference to J.M. in those times.) I remember him announcing at his apartment the name Glad Day for his store, from a print by William Blake.
Since we'd managed to remain friends up to that point Jerry regarded comments I'd made at the time of the BP's tenth anniversary, about why I didn't stay with the paper, as a personal affront. I do regret that. Nevertheless I can't see the point in being dishonest when asked how I saw a particular moment, a particular event. It only makes trying to understand the past all the more difficult.
I like Jerry, admire him for what he's accomplished over the years. Even he would admit though that he has a personality that can be difficult to deal with. The result is a certain amount of friction between himself and people with whom he has more in common than he has differences. As a byproduct of this, his role in Canadian gay history has probably not been properly acknowledged.
Paul MacDonald, who handled the community listings page, had been involved with the GLF in London during time in England. My most vivid memory of Paul is at the Pretzel Bell (see my Guerilla article, Sept./71), his unwillingness to be pushed around, the way he faced down a crowd. He has his say in the tenth anniversary issue.
As long as I've known him, he has worked selling audio equipment. He was with Bay/Bloor Radio through most of the eighties but now commutes to some store in Oshawa I think.
His roommate of five years later, Laurie Marshall, was involved in Toronto Area Gays so occasional TAG meetings in his apartment were another peripheral connection Charlie and I had with him.
Tony Metie and I often found ourselves leaning together in discussions. He was more articulate than I was and better able to give what-for when needed.
I think even then he worked in the film department of the Metro library system. Eventually he became department head. Sometimes he would run films as background at gay dances.
Tony came up with the name for the BP at a session at Charlie's and my flat at 265 Richmond St. W. a couple of weeks before we went to print. It was a weekend (I think) afternoon and we were sitting around on the floor in the livingroom. A name had not been a great priority, but we needed one now for the cover design. It took us about an hour. Jerry was pushing for Mandala, a name he said he'd been thinking of for a long time. Bart and Jude were working their way from something like Cock & Cunt Sucker, and Dyke & Faggot, to Radical Pervert. I'm not quite sure of the exact suggestions they made, but this was the nature of them. I wrote all the names down as we went along and the list surfaced years later as I was setting up a display for a TAG meeting. Unfortunately it then submerged again. Possibly I inadvertently threw it out.
Nothing seemed to say quite what we wanted. Then Tony started talking about names that had something to do with the body. He, and we, fiddled around a bit with body and bawdy, then body politics and bawdy politics and finally it came to The Body Politic. It was clear this was the closest we would come to satisfying our different ideas of what we were about. There was discussion for a couple of more minutes and we settled.
Tony died in Wellesley Hospital of HIV infections the summer of 1986. Near the end his sisters came up from Halifax. Afterwards they held a memorial service for him. It was gay in context but overwhelmingly and irretrievably religious in content. It seemed an outrageous denial of his life and beliefs. I could hardly sit through it and half expected him to come raging up the aisle in denunciation. In truth when I had talked to him in the hospital he seemed fond and protective of his family, so probably if it made them happy he didn't care. I tried to think about it in that way anyways, to lessen my anger.
In 1971, Charlie Dobie was my newly acquired lover. (We met at a TGA meeting.) He was a printer at the Star and had been a member of the Guerilla collective since its second issue. He was one of its two main photographers, his work appearing in many issues and from time to time on the cover. His photography has been used by The Lesbian & Gay Community Appeal, The GCDC, and Kai Visionworks as well as elsewhere. That's only a small part of his involvement with the community over the years.
He's always managed to get along with a vast array of people, in no small part because of his infinite patience and his unwillingness to be drawn into petty bickering. He acted as the general resource in putting the first issue together. He was also the connection with Guerilla as far as using its offices and materials for layout, and with Newsweb, Guerilla's printer. He had had years of experience with newspapers large and small (layout, presses, photography etc.) that went as far back as his early teens when he worked at the Atikokan Progress.
Myself, Peter Zorzi, I was a messenger for Merrill Lynch, with little experience seeing how my words looked in print. My prose style plagued me and included a tendency to sermonize. To put it bluntly, my enthusiasm often outweighed my abilities and the manner of Initiation Rites, my article for the BP, probably worked against what I was trying to do. This was meant to be the start of a series for the uninitiated, i.e. unconverted gay people. The friends I seemed to be leaving behind were on my mind with this piece.
I'd been on my own since 1964, 16 years old and free at least of the small town lack of opportunity that had held my sexuality in check until then. (It was a revelation to learn years later just how much hometown opportunity there had actually been.) So I'd been in and out of the bars, baths, bushes, and balcony back-rows in Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto for a number of years before the BP came along. I could visualize a definite gay audience for the paper, nameable people. They made the necessary accomodations for living their lives but did not dispute our societal slot as some sort of abnormality. Part of the reason was the simple lack of tools, developed arguments they could make use of. I doubt my article in the first BP was of much help, though I can always hope it meant something to somebody.
Nevertheless the message of the first issue was that it was time to begin thinking differently about ourselves and whatever our individual abilities I think collectively we succeeded in delivering that message loud and clear in the places where our community lived out its public life.
Among other activities, Herb Spiers was on the board of CHAT and was one of the people who quit in the 1972 split. He was a philosophy graduate student at this point.
See the tenth anniversary issue for his thoughts.
John Forbes (aka Twilight Rose) can be seen in the video Juicy Fruitorama, circa 1973, with Sparkle Plenty (aka Wally Brazy). He had been part of The Ephemerals while living in Vancouver, and his writing appeared as early as TWO Magazine in 1965-66, where he used the psuedonym Julian Frank (over this name he can't decide whether to giggle or be appalled). At that point he had been an underaged young thing hanging around The Music Room, The Melody Room, Sara Ellen Dunlop et al. Over the years he has contributed to a slew of Cdn. gay mags. Some of his letters from Vancouver to Charlie Hill, circa 1970-71, are in the UTHA files.
See the tenth anniversary issue.
Alan Falconer designed the logo and cover. It may be that at this time he shared an apartment with someone else in the group, Tony or Kent perhaps. I believe he has since died of HIV infections.
Brian Waite and Andre Ouellette were lovers and like a number of other people in TGA, defectors to gay liberation from the Trots (LSA).
Brian was a signer of the covering letter and a co-ordinator for the 1971 brief to, and march on, Parliament. He retired from gay politics a long time ago but was out for the 1981 raids. We sometimes run into each other, even share a drink once a decade. He's always worried about being tied down to anything, the last time I talked to him he was off to Galiano Island for an extended vacation at his parents place. (Years after the fact he reminded me in a once-upon-a-time tale that we'd tricked after having run into each other in the Maygay, above the St. Charles. I'd forgotten all about it. Wonder if it was before or after the BP? In any case there was more sex happening in these circles than I remember, I think.)
Andre Ouellette was a hairdresser by trade and now lives in Hong Kong where he owns a salon with his present lover. He is on the left on the front cover. (Charlie had a lust for Andre.) Brian and Andre shared an apartment on Queen St. W. with John Wilson, another veteran of the battles. This was a familiar site for strategy meetings for various groups. I can even remember one TAG (Toronto Area Gays--not to be confused with TGA) meeting there four or five years later. I think Harvey Hamburg, major instigator of much in the Toronto gay community, lived there for a while when he moved from Winnipeg and this was the source of that particular connection.
David Newcome, with several others on the first issue, was with the BP for years. He was on CHAT's board of directors and his lover Paul Pearce worked on the CHAT social service project as far as I can remember. They too quit in the CHAT split. David is the person facing the bus on the front cover.
We worked together in the late seventies at the Cdn. Imperial Bk. of Commerce, in the stock and bond cage at King & Bay. It was the only time I've worked a paying job with another person I knew to be gay. The difference I felt there in just having someone else around was immense. David, on the other hand, said he wasn't affected.
He and Paul and Rick Bebout started The Upper Crust Bakery when he left the CIBC. He lost his sight in a matter of days in the late 80's as an early HIV complication, in fact his first sign there was anything wrong. There was an article in the Toronto Star circa 1990-91 on his fight to force the TTC to become more accomodating to people without sight.
Kent Biggar, a wisp of a person, intelligent, wry, humorous, at times he works as an organist, also builds harpsichords, also works for the library. He once lived in a large apartment with Robertson Davies and his wife, I think in a menage-a-trois with someone else in the household. There's a certain amount of enjoyment in imagining Kent and Davies in the same scene, perhaps nestled in front of the fireplace in a couple of heavily padded old armchairs, Kent reading aloud from The Joyful Blue Book of Gay Etiquette.
He was only eighteen or so in 1971, had recently been kicked out of the house by a homophobic father in Owen Sound or some such place. I think Jerry may have found him wandering the streets. In any case the two of them were boyfriends around this time. (To further illustrate the sexual associations, Charlie and Kent were also charmed with each other and occasionally climbed into bed together. And Jerry and I had had a brief encounter earlier in the year, before the BP, that may have lasted all of a week.)
Amerigo Marras and his lover Don ? shared Jerry Moldenhauer's apartment on Kendal, and later a house on Kensington. There they started the KAA gallery. Although in a long article on his ventures that appeared in the Globe & Mail, Amerigo made claims about helping to start the BP, in fact he and Don made a point at the time of not being associated with what we were doing. Only after long persuasion by Jerry did Amerigo consent to the use of his drawings. He and Don are famous for having gotten enough money out of the Canada Council(?) to put a down payment on a substantial building in downtown Toronto that later became the headquarters of the Liberal (or was it Conservative?) Party.
Pat Murphy, earth mother with a definite political twist, and Linda Jain were lovers for a while. They were also on the board of CHAT and also resigned in the split. As well they worked on the CHAT social service project, which Pat co-ordinated and to which she was instrumental. In CHAT as a whole she was second in esteem only to George (Hislop). There were those who reversed that order. She is famous for such subsequent adventures as the Brunswick Four, the Fly By Night etc.. She and Linda appear on the back cover and Linda is second from the right on the front cover. I run into Pat every five years or so. She had moved out of Toronto for several years but has since come back.
Nancy Walker later was associated with GCN in Boston. She was quite conservative. The poems by "Iris" are either hers, or possibly, by her lover Stephanie St. John, a further psuedonym. I think Stephanie was a school teacher and this was the reason for the fakery. In 1973 both Stephanie aka Penny, and Nancy were on the board of CHAT and voted not to allow the BP to be sold on CHAT premises.
Rombus Hube I haven't heard news of in many years. I remember him primarily for the Park Patrol that he wrote about here.
Both photos by Jerry Moldenhauer.
Front: Boarding at the Bay St. bus station in Toronto, for the rally in Ottawa, August 28, 1971. Left to right: Andre Oullette, David Newcome, Linda Jain, Stephanie St. John (pseudonym used for her involvement with CHAT)
Back: Linda Jain and Pat Murphy at City Hall, Toronto.
I'd been very eager to get The BP up and running and had intended to stay with the paper but the infighting wasn't worth it. In the 10th anniversary issue Herb Spiers comments on the atmosphere at the time. Maybe I was being oversensitive but conflict on that level, particularly in the midst of our supposed liberation, was hard to deal with. I was out, and so be it I suppose. Charlie, being my lover and loyal, followed. In any case at this point he was working nights and I was working days and it was a new relationship. With everything else we were involved in, if something had to give and it was the BP I can't really feel any regret.
My part in getting out the second issue was limited to loaning $120- towards the printing bill. Charlie may have done the same. This was soon paid back. I don't remember selling this one at all, but must have helped out occasionally since I do recall people remarking on finally being able to buy a new issue.
We continued to store #1 in our back porch on Richmond for a year and I can visualize yellowing mountains of #2 there also. I know we were asked to keep other numbers but we moved three times in three years so it doesn't seem likely that we did but who knows. (I recall one time people, afraid of seizure, were looking for a place to hide them from the cops.)
The flats for #1 and their negatives resided under our bed for a long time in a big green box. I finally gave them to Jerry M. while he was still with the BP. He doesn't know what happened to them so presumably they were eventually heaved.
Our connections with the BP over further years (Accession Files #2 & #3) were peripheral. I am listed in a 1974 issue, but for what reason? A satiric letter of mine was printed a few years later. A photo of Charlie's (of Matt Gould in a self-defense pose) was used as a cover around 1978 and it seems they may have used photos of his in the paper once in a while. Once or twice when the BP was in trouble we went in to help with layout and our name is mentioned in an article at one point. Gerry Hannon interviewed us for the tenth anniversary issue and we are mentioned by him. Charlie offered to help out when the BP computer group was formed, but he doesn't remember going to many meetings. We occasionally donated money over the years. A few other minor things of this nature. Like everybody else we'd drop in to the office every now and then to see what was what. Etc.
Okay, okay, I wasn't very good at this sort of thing, this orgasm-centred article of mine in the first issue of The BP certainly could have been a lot better. But so what, the important thing was that we were fighting back and were urging others to do the same. That was the point of everything I wrote, why pull my forelock any further over my inadequacies? As for the actual words: Initiation Rites was written in the context of a culture that based its disdain for gay sex in the argument that such sex lacked the possibility of procreation and was therefore unnatural, perverse. The sweeping condemnation that attached itself to this argument constituted, as far as I was concerned, not only permission but a requirement to head as far as possible in the contrary direction. Thus my argument it was sexual desire and satisfaction itself that was basic to human well-being, procreation being merely an add-on designed to take advantage of that. The politics of orgasm – this was The Body Politic after all – were more discussed within feminism, Carla Lonzi's clitoral woman, as an instance, saw female sexuality as divorced from any consideration of reproductive function. As for orgasm and those particular discussions as to its place within female sexuality, the article itself was vetted by a collective that included two strongly feminist and articulate dykes.
The majority of the general population is a victim of the sexual brainwashing which is our inheritance.
Those who engage in sexual acts not performed `penis-vagina', are quite willing to submit to the claim that their acts are unnatural, a perversion of the "one, true act".
It is clear that gay and sexual liberation are inextricably combined, just as it is clear that the elemental premises of sexual liberation have not effectively reached gay people. It is as inevitable that gay liberation will not succeed until these premises are recognized as valid by gay people, as it is assured it will succeed once they are accepted.
Called for is a recognition of sexuality as an inseparable trait and tendency of humanity, and a parallel recognition that there are as many varied acceptable manifestations of this tendency as there are people.
Sexual response provides a physical and emotional outlet achieved in essence through orgasm.
Sexuality is an appetite along the same lines as any other human appetite, the food appetite for one.
To question the nature of the stimuli for one is to question the nature of the stimuli for the other. Whatever appeals to the stomach at the moment, whether apple, rice or roast beef, is seen to be a valid desire, because it will satisfy.
To carry the idea further, the urges of hunger are satisfied by food. To question and delegate the circumstances under which orgasm is to be properly reached is akin to questioning whether eating with the left hand or the right will more satisfy hunger.
That procreation should in any way be connected with the process of sexual satisfaction is purely circumstance.
Indeed, for procreation to be initiated orgasm must occur in a very special situation. First that orgasm must be reached by a male; second that orgasm must be reached by a male who is fertile; third that orgasm must be reached by a male who is fertile, in the presence of a female; fourth that orgasm must be reached by a male who is fertile, in the presence of a female during periods in which she is fertile, if she is; fifth that orgasm must be reached by a male who is fertile in the presence of a female during periods in which she is fertile if she is, and using a particular method of achieving orgasm with a female (penis-vagina). Even if all these requirements are satisfied, procreation is far from guaranteed.
To say that because the procreative process may be triggered if orgasm occurs after all these conditions are met therefore the procreative process is the purpose of achieving orgasm is patently absurd.
Orgasm can be attained by a male or a female, fertile or infertile, alone or in co-operation with a person of the same sex, or with the other sex, or with animals, or the use of manipulative tools, through methods in number and variation as limitless as the human imagination. The common denominator in all cases is the physical and emotional outlet which orgasm provides.
We live in a society where sex, sexuality and eroticism have been so restricted and repressed it disturbs people greatly to even touch one another.
Members of our society are from infancy taught by omission and commission that the outlet for sexual urges is the other sex and only in certain ways and under certain conditions. There are no alternatives. Certain feelings and urges are automatically channelled in the accepted direction by such a culture and it becomes a part of the subconscious of the individual to respond to the appetite in the accustomed manner. Any other direction is unacceptable, sinful, shameful and unnatural.
Any other form of response requires a person to act against rather than in tandem with his subconscious, thus the uneasiness, guilt feelings, confusion which gay people especially, manifest whether they are aware of it or not.
A great deal of sexual response is not only learned, but is also Pavlovian. These factors allow the sexual inhibitions of our culture to become a part of the individual. They also cultivate a split in society allowing a division to occur between those who respond in a heterosexual manner, and those who respond in a homosexual manner. Both groups have become trained to satisfy sexual urges in a certain way by the fact that such a response has fulfilled their need for orgasm in the past and at the same time been at least not incompatible with their emotional needs.
If the artificial inhibitions did not exist, society would become aware that there are many combinations of responses quite capable of satisfying individual urges. If multi-sexual responses were allowed to develop, the individual would be much freer to choose situations and associations which gave more consideration to other emotional needs.
Theorizing on the origins of present sexual attitudes is just that---theorizing. What is apparent is that these attitudes have no real validity now, if they ever had, and they must be abandoned. They have become harmful.
CONTENTS OF ACCESSION FILE #1 (BP--1'ST ISSUE)
- printing bill from Newsweb, dated Oct.28/1971, for the first issue of the BP. Because they knew Charlie as being from Guerilla, I believe we didn't have to pay anything upfront and the bill is from the day it was ready. If I'm wrong on this nevertheless it would have been within a week of this date. Guerilla was usually ready the day after it was taken in and the bill is made out to Guerilla by mistake.
- final bill from Newsweb for the first issue, addressed to the BP c/o Charlie Dobie
- a note from Gerry Hannon dated Mar.25,1982
- some mss. from the 1'st issue
-Hot Flash...John Forbes aka Twilight Rose
-Gay Ghetto...John Forbes
-Out Of The Closet...Nancy Walker
-Initiation Rites...Peter Zorzi
-Gay Liberation In Vancouver...?
- handwritten copy of a letter to Roedy Green re material for the 1'st BP (it was easier to handcopy it at the time than find a photocopier)
- clippings from the Georgia Straight that we had on hand in case we needed filler. I think these were in fact sent to us by Roedy Green, via CHAT, but it's possible they were from John Forbes..
- a card with some contact addresses
- cancelled cheque from Charlie Dobie to IBM dated Oct 19,1971; this was for rental of the typewriter we used for preparing the final copy of the 1'st issue
- 2 items: IBM contracts re typewriter rental
- cancelled cheque ($55-) on th BP acc't dated Nov. 24, 1971 payable to Newsweb Enterprises. This was in payment of the remainder of the bill for the 1'st issue
- cancelled cheque on the BP acc't dated Nove 29, 1971 payable to P. Zorzi. This was to repay me for the $200- I put out to Newsweb in October
- statement from the Bank of Montreal, King & Yonge, dated Feb.4, 1972 closing out the first BP bank a/c, known as Peter Zorzi Esq. In Trust. They wouldn't let us put it in the BP's name since we were not incorporated. Coincidentally this is where the first TAG a/c was opened too.
- a sheet listing the above two cheques
- a sheet listing two deposits
- a sheet listing who the BP owed money to for the 1'st issue
- a sheet listing donations and the first expenses: The BP ceremonially repaid these donations many years later.