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Gay Rights Movement: Series 11: International Gay and Lesbian Periodicals and Newsletters


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About this Collection

Introduction: Gay Rights Movement: Series 11: International Periodicalsand Newsletters from the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Arch

Introduction: Gay Rights Movement: Series 11:International Periodicals and Newsletters from the Canadian Lesbian and GayArchives

 

THE CANADIAN LESBIAN AND GAY ARCHIVES

 

The Canadian Gay Liberation Movement Archives (the originalname of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives) was formed by dedicatedvolunteers who worked around the offices of The Body Politic (TBP),a Canadian Gay liberation newspaper founded in 1971.1 By 1973 TBPspaper collection had grown unwieldy, and the Archives was created as an adjunctto the newspaper. It didnt take long to realize that a liberation archiveswas limited in scope, so by December 1975 the Archives was renamed the CanadianGay Archives (CGA). A collective of six people was formed and the CGA became aseparate body, although it shared offices with TBP until that papersdemise in 1987. Pink Triangle Press was formed in 1976 to provide more legalstability for TBP, and CGA was part of the Press although an autonomousentity. The CGA became an Ontario corporation on March 31, 1980, and eventuallyreceived registered charitable status in November 1981. The Archives was thefirst lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (lgbt) organization in Canada to receivethis status, which would prove useful in the years ahead. The Archives alwaysoperated on a limited budget, and being able to provide tax receipts fordonations of materials or funds has helped to build holdings, especially lgbtperiodicals.

 

The Archives holds a large periodical collection andsubstantial vertical files of flyers, clippings, brochures, and other ephemeraproduced by lgbt individuals and organizations. These holdings are organizedinto three sections: Canadian, American, and International. In addition, theArchives has a library of books and pamphlets; a substantial internationalposter collection; photographs, films, and videos; long-playing records andCDs; clippings from the mainstream press and Canadian newspapers; and thepapers (accessions) of many Canadian lgbt individuals and organizations.

 

How the Collection Grew

 

The first issue of CGAs newsletter, Gay Archivist(1977), noted that the Archives held 250 periodical titles. By 1979, thecollection had grown to more than 600 titles of more than 5,400 individualissues. Two years later, it nearly doubled to more than 1,100 titles, and by1986 the collection had nearly doubled again, to 1,850 titles.

 

This rapid increase was accomplished by sending lettersrequesting free subscriptions to every lesbian/gay periodical publisher. Afterthe CGA sponsored the international lesbian/gay studies conference Sex and theState in 1985, it made a concerted effort to add to its holdings by targetingpublishers. The Archives was added to the distribution lists of many smallperiodicals, although most large, established publishers would not provide freesubscriptions. However, over the years the Archives has been able to pulltogether most complete runs of titles such as Out (New Zealand), and hasbeen fortunate to be able to preserve the newsletters of smaller groups.

 

From its inception the Archives has benefited from links tomajor Canadian lgbt periodicals. The Body Politic, Canadas leading gayliberation periodical of the 1970s and 1980s, had an exchange program with mostlesbian and gay periodicals of the period. Over time, these periodicals werepassed to the Archives and became its core collection. TBP had a firmcommitment to lesbian and gay liberation, not only in Canada, the UnitedStates, and major European countries, but in the struggling lgbt communities insmaller nations. The newspapers International News section maintained links togroups in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Central and South America.Again, the Archives benefited from TBPs work by adding newinternational periodical titles to its holdings.

 

The Archives has also been fortunate to have people collectperiodicals while vacationing abroad, particularly in Eastern Europe. As aresult we have almost complete runs of titles from Poland (Kabaret, RozowaKartka), the Czech Republic (SOHO Revue), and Russia (Tema).We also acquired a substantial run of Der Kreis (Switzerland), courtesyof a book dealer.

 

Making Our Holdings Available

 

Although the Archives added the subtitle National Archivesfor Lesbians and Gay Men in 1981, the organizations name wasnt officiallychanged to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA) until 1993. To try tocompensate for this lesbian invisibility, CGA self-published a listing of itslesbian holdings, Lesbian Periodical Holdings in the Canadian Gay Archives(1981, 15 pages), which was the fourth bibliography in CGAs publicationseries. Besides lesbian titles, the bibliography included feminist titles withsignificant lesbian content. The bibliography included 113 titles, most fromCanada and the United States, but a few from England and Australia.

 

In 1991 the CGA published a major bibliography, Our OwnVoices: A Directory of Lesbian and Gay Periodicals, 1890-1990, Including theComplete Holdings of the Canadian Gay Archives (704 pages). This work includednot only the CGAs holdings, but titles not at the Archives, a total of morethan 7,200 entries.

 

The CLGA has had an Internet presence since early 1997. Oneof the main components on its website (www.clga.ca)was an html version of Our Own Voices. As soon as this appeared,anyone searching the Internet for lgbt titles would be directed to a link tothe CLGAs holdings. Donors viewing the bibliography online sent missing issuesor offered complete runs of titles that we did not have. The periodical holdingsat the CLGA are in an InMagic database. The Archives was able to create htmlcodes from the database, and a listing of all periodicals, with completeholdings, was added to the website in the fall of 2005.

 

Twenty-five years ago the United States was the firstcountry to report on AIDS, but even in 1981 Canada and other nations tooknotice. The AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) published its first newsletter in1983, just a year after the CGA published its first AIDS bibliography. Thebibliography attracted the attention of AIDS researchers and community-basedorganizations, resulting in an exchange of AIDS periodicals. All of thisoccurred well before the advent of the Internet and the global exchange ofinformation. Several Canadian and International AIDS titles are included inthis microfilm edition, such as the ACT Newsletter, AIDS Network ofEdmonton Newsletter, and AIDS Info (The Netherlands).

 

The Minority Press

 

In the mid-1980s ethnic groups in Canada produced importantnewsletters, including Celebrasian (Gay Asians of Toronto, 1983-1996)and Khush Khayal (South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association, 1989-1995).These periodicals were able to meet needs that local mainstream lesbian/gaytitles could not. AIDS affected minority communities just as they began to havetheir own voice and press, and titles like Black CAP Newsletter(Toronto) and Black Lesbian and Gay Centre Project Newsletter (London)provided much-needed information.

 

The CLGA has managed to preserve part of our lgbt heritage,filling a need for knowledge and complementing the holdings of other gay andlesbian archives. Yes, lgbt people appear to be everywhere, and have becomeincreasingly visible since 1970. Thanks to the efforts of Primary SourceMicrofilm (an imprint of Gale, a part of Cengage Learning), the printed recordof that visibility can now be viewed more widely.,

 

Alan V. Miller
Serials Archivist
Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

 

Editors Note

 

1 A microfilm edition of the complete run of The Body Politic canbe found in Gay Rights Movement Series 6, Atlanta Lesbian Feminist AllianceArchives (Woodbridge, CT: Primary Source Microfilm, 2003).

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE COLLECTION

 

We Are Everywhere!

 

When the gay and lesbian movement exploded onto the publicstage in the late 1960s, one of its rallying slogans was We Are Everywhere!It was a cry designed to make the point that, contrary to widespread belief,homosexual people could be found in all walks of life, all occupations, allsocial and ethnic and religious groups, and all countries, towns, and regions.This collection shows just how true that assertion was - and how it has becomemore true with the passing of time.

 

Homosexual Politics in Western Europe and the United States

 

In the late 1940s, homosexual politics was largely confinedto two regions of the world - Western Europe and, incipiently, the UnitedStates. In Europe, the damage wrought by a dozen years of war and fascism uponthe social and political world of homosexuals - a world of bars and cafes, ofprominent literary and cultural figures and their works, of political andsocial organizations - was repaired with startling rapidity. By 1948, inScandinavia and the Low Countries, the old, pre-war homosexual world was backon its feet. Sweden and Switzerland, having legalized male homosexual actsduring the 1940s, were now joined by the rest of Western Europe, The concern ofthese activists was to create a climate of opinion conducive to greatertolerance and understanding, and to prevail upon the authorities to allow somesocial space in which this work could be carried on. (This moment in gayhistory is represented in International Periodicals and Newsletters from theCanadian Lesbian and Gay Archives by Der Kreis, published inSwitzerland, but at the heart of an international network of activists.) OnlyGermany, burdened by laws dating back to the mid-nineteenth century andintensified by the Nazis, remained outside this Western European mainstream. Inthe United States, which is often imagined to have been a leader in thehomosexual world, political organizing began in 1950 with the establishment ofthe Mattachine Society on the West Coast. In the following two decadespolitical organizing took root in small pockets scattered across the country.This was a genuine achievement, but the ferocity of the McCarthyite witch huntsblighted this early flowering, producing a timidity that kept American gayrights activists from reaching out to the rest of the world.

 

After World War II, Britain and the British world (theindependent, former colonies of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and SouthAfrica), continued to refuse to acknowledge the existence of homosexuality.Ironically it was here that the first important breakthrough came about, when,in the early 1950s, a series of scandals in the yellow press prompted theBritish government to commission an inquiry into the four-hundred-year-old lawsthat criminalized sex between men. In 1957, the Wolfenden Committee, named forits chairman, recommended that sex between consenting adult males, whenconducted in private, be legalized. The long struggle to persuade Parliament toenact this into law put Britain in the frontlines (and in the headlines) ofhomosexual politics for a decade. Finally passed in 1967, Britains SexualOffences Act provided a model which Canada adopted almost immediately and whichthe other countries of the British world were forced to address, albeit intheir own ways and at their own pace.

 

In the meantime, the rest of the world had been movingforward. The great post-war economic boom brought social, political, andcultural transformations and a new generation characterized by a quiteremarkable idealism; a generation which threw itself into struggles againstcolonialism, nuclear weapons, imperialist wars, class inequalities, racism -and, by the end of the 1960s, against the subordination of women and thediscrimination to which homosexual people were subjected.

 

Out of this turmoil emerged the gay and lesbian movement, apublic political struggle in which homosexuals themselves (now embracing newterms of self-description) aimed, by a variety of confrontational means, totransform the structures and institutions of the societies that oppressed them.Slogans such as Gay Is Good, Gay Pride, Gay Power, and, as mentioned, WeAre Everywhere reflected a new world view characterized by self-organization,coming out, protesting, confronting, demanding, disrupting, and changing lawsand attitudes that as recently as the mid-1960s had seemed immovable.

 

After Stonewall

 

The conventional date of origin for this phase of activismis June 1969, when three nights of rioting in New York City in response to apolice raid on the Stonewall Inn led to the founding of new, more militant gayrights organizations - initially in New York, then across the U.S., and thenrapidly in the countries of the British world and Western Europe. In the 1970s,gay liberation gripped the imagination of women and men from Toronto andMontreal, to Melbourne and Auckland, to Berlin and Paris, and Rome and TelAviv. While the Stonewall Riots were certainly important, and U.S. gayactivists have, ever since, played a leading role in developing strategies,tactics, and slogans that the rest of the gay world has been quick to adopt,too blinkered an attention to the U.S. skews our understanding of the natureand scope of the gay and lesbian movement as an international phenomenon. Whatmakes International Periodicals and Newsletters from the Canadian Lesbianand Gay Archives so important is precisely that it brings into focus thegay and lesbian movement in the rest of the world, allowing it to be given itsproper place in history. This movement is strongly represented in thiscollection by publications such as Come Together, Gay Marxist,and Jeremy (England), Antinorm (France), Fuori! (Italy), OpenDoors (Canada), Gay Liberation Press (Australia), Gay Liberator(New Zealand), Liberator (Israel), and dozens and dozens of othertitles.

 

Growth of the Movement in Eastern Europe and Elsewhere

 

Over the course of the 1980s, the winds of change spread theseeds of gay rights politics well beyond Western Europe, North America, andAustralasia. As the Soviet bloc began to develop socially and economically,homosexual people in Eastern Europe began to assert their right to be visibleand active. By the early 1980s gay bars and cafes were easy to find in the moreadvanced cities of the region. In the mid-1980s gay rights groups wereestablished in Hungary, Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia), and Poland, and, towardthe end of the decade, in Czechoslovakia and East Germany. In the Soviet Union,Mikhail Gorbachevs reformist policy of glasnost (openness) paved theway for the rapid emergence of homosexual publications such as Novaya Zhiznand Tema. As the countries of Eastern Europe broke with the Soviet Unionand clamored to join the European Union, opportunities for homosexualvisibility increased - witness the publications Flamingo (Bulgaria), Gayzma(Latvia), and Kabaret (Poland). In the 1990s, as social and economicdevelopment, democratization, and liberalization took hold in the Third World,organizations to advance the demands of homosexual people were founded in LatinAmerica, East and Southeast Asia, and Africa, as represented by periodicalssuch as Gay Scene (India), Link/Skakel (South Africa), GALZ(Zimbabwe), and G: Gaya Hidup Ceria (Indonesia).

 

A Media of Its Own

 

Meanwhile, in the heartland of North America, Western Europeand Australasia, the gay and lesbian movements grew into communities in whichpolitics was simply one element, alongside the social communities representedby bars and sex clubs, hobby and interest groups, and suburban life. This newlyvisible community, actively courted by political and commercial interests,occupied its own more or less comfortable niche much like ethnic groups in amulticultural society. One of the communitys defining features was a media ofits own. The newsletters, leaflets, and activist newspapers of the movementwere supplemented, sometimes supplanted, by a commercially-minded,lifestyle-oriented media that, if not actually eschewing politics entirely, wasmuch more interested in homosexuality as a market niche and a focus forconsumption of fashion, clubs, consumer goods, and services. This requiredeither new publications entirely or the adaptation of the old. In Australia,the serious Gay Community News was transformed by members of itscollective into the seriously stylish OutRage; New Zealand Gay Newsbecame Out.

 

In a world where, thanks to easier and cheaper travel andmass communication, the flow of information was faster than it had ever been,the gay worlds began to converge. They would never, however, achievehomogeneity. Third World gay movements and communities were emerging withinsocieties with histories and traditions very different from those in the West,and much of what the West offered has proved to be of limited value. Browsing ALN(For Women Across Asia) from Thailand, Bombay Dost (India), or UmaniNews Defender (Nigeria) will reveal much that is familiar to First Worldreaders, but much, too, that reflects these countries diverse cultures,societies, and histories. Taken together, the newsletters and magazinescollected in International Periodicals and Newsletters from the CanadianLesbian and Gay Archives provide a remarkable record of the social,political, and cultural diversity of the gay world over the past fifty years.

 

Publications (in the form of newsletters, newspapers, andmagazines) were a key weapon with which gay and lesbian activists waged theirstruggle for freedom, equality, and liberation, and it is no accident that theformation of an activist group was usually accompanied by the publication ofsome sort of newsletter or magazine. The homosexual organizations of both thepre- and post-war years relied on their own communication channels to propagatetheir message; so, too, did the activists of the gay and lesbian movement.Certainly, access to the mass or mainstream press, radio, and television wasalways welcome, but if activists had relied upon these avenues alone, theirstruggle would have advanced much more slowly. A press of ones own is a vitalprecondition for any political work. For many years it was very difficult toget homosexual issues reported in the mainstream press - too controversial,unsavory, not fit for family reading were the sorts of reasons given even bysympathetic editors and journalists. Then, when they did report onhomosexuality, it was often in the most sensationalist terms; crime andscandals, death and debauchery were given a great deal more space thandemonstrations and activist demands. The issues that gay activists wanted toaddress were rarely of interest to editors in the mainstream media or, indeed,their audiences. But being able to work through the media was vital for themovements members. That these issues were (and are) debated differently indifferent countries is a matter of great import, and this collection offersaccess to a wide range of such debates.

 

The Value of This Collection

 

International Periodicals and Newsletters from theCanadian Lesbian and Gay Archives addresses a wide variety of issues in thegay rights movement over the past fifty years, the many different environmentsaround the world in which the movement has operated, and the ways in whichever-wider constituencies have attached themselves to the movement. Today themovement embraces lesbians and gay men, bisexuals, transgender and transsexualpeople, and intersex people. From its beginning in small pockets in the West,it has grown into a world-wide phenomenon. All these factors explain theextraordinary range of topics covered in this collection. Browsing thenewsletters, periodicals, and newspapers collected here brings one face to facewith fifty years of issues. There is, quite literally, no public social,political, or cultural issue of the past half century that is not touched on inthe gay and lesbian media.

 

For scholars - professionals and students alike - access tothese rare publications provides remarkably rich sources for research. Forthose who study gay and lesbian history, politics, and culture, the usefulnessof this collection hardly needs emphasizing. But, more and more, scholars arecoming to understand that homosexuality must be studied not as an isolatedsubject but in context of disciplines as diverse as anthropology, sociology,art history, cultural studies, history, geography, politics, media, andcommunications. The preservation and dissemination of these rare and oftenunique publications will allow researchers to study the development of the gayrights movement and culture around the world and to compare them. It would bedifficult to overstate the value of a collection of 415 titles, fromforty-something countries, published over the past fifty years.

 

For the most part, until very recently, respectableinstitutions had no interest in collecting such material, and so it has beenpreserved in private collections or in national and regional gay and lesbianarchives in cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Melbourne, Berlin, Amsterdam, LosAngeles, and New York, where activists have collected and preserved it, usuallywith very little financial or other support. International Periodicals andNewsletters from the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives provides access to adiverse range of sources which otherwise would not be available except byextensive traveling. The ability to access the work of the movements and thelife of the communities represented here and the opportunity to compare andcontrast times and places will enhance our work immeasurably.

 

Graham Willett
Lecturer in Australian Studies, University of Melbourne
President, Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

 

Editorial Note

 

Organization and Format
The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA)boasts the worlds largest collection of lesbian and gay periodicals. Assembledby archivist Alan V. Miller, the complete lesbian and gay periodical collectionincludes thousands of titles from all over the world and a wide variety oftypes of materials (newsletters, newspapers, periodicals, zines, etc.).

 

This microfilm edition features a selection of periodicalsand newsletters representing 45 countries outside the United States. Holdingsrange from historical publications of the 1950s to current newsletters andperiodicals.

 

The titles in this product are organized by geographicalarea in the following groupings:

 

Part 1: The Americas
Section 1: Canada - Reels 1-87; Section 2: Latin America and the Caribbean -Reels 87-91

Part 2: Europe
Reels 92-178

Part 3: Australia and NewZealand
Reels 179-297

Part 4: Asia, Africa, and the MiddleEast
Reels 208-211

 

SELECTION PROCESS

 

Alan V. Miller served asconsultant to Primary Source Microfilm in the selection of the materials forthe microform edition of International Periodicals and Newsletters fromthe Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.Selection was based on several criteria:

 

Relevancy
This microfilm collection comprises selected periodicals and newsletters fromthe holdings of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. Selections emphasize therelevance of the material to the history of gay and lesbian political andsocial activism around the globe.

 

Rarity
Some newsletters were excluded because theycan be found in many libraries or have appeared in other Primary SourceMicrofilm publications of gay and lesbian publications. Materials availablewithout charge to the public on an organizations website were also excluded.

 

Research Need
Certain materials were not microfilmed largely because of their relativelylow priority with respect to research needs. Examples of such materials includenewsletters devoted primarily to commercial advertisements.

 

Privacy
Some materials could not be microfilmed for reasons of confidentiality.Examples of such materials include newsletters devoted primarily to contactclub information. Many of the organizations included are defunct. Every attemptwas made to contact copyright holders. If you have any information about one ofthese publications, please contact the publisher.

 

Notice of Unfilmed Materials

 

Newsletters excluded in their entirety are not listed inthis collection guide. These materials are available to researchers who use thecollection on site at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.