Mar. 13, 2013 - Issue #908: In Your Face
Canada’s stand-out magazine
Longest-running queer publication a comfortable old-school zine
If I were to ask you to name Canada's longest-running queer magazine, what would you answer? The Body Politic? Xtra? I was surprised to learn last week that the honour belongs to Perceptions, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this month. (For those wondering, Xtra celebrates its 30th anniversary next year and The Body Politic was in print for 16 years between 1971 – 1987.)
Perceptions is a news magazine based out of Saskatoon, but it covers queer news and communities all across the prairies. The magazine is from a different era, and I don't mean that in a negative way. Whereas Xtra or even Gay Calgary are flashy in both style and content, Perceptions resembles a zine and is obviously a labour of love for its small staff. The magazine doesn't have a website—but it does have a Wikipedia page—and the classified section still offers drawers for replies to personal ads.
What makes Perceptions stand out is its directory in the middle of every issue. Here you will find dozens of events, groups and organizations from Brandon to High Level. Often you'll find a first name and a phone number as a point of contact—no email address or URL. Back before the Internet, this was how we found each other.
We've all seen how the Internet has changed the way queers communicate with one another. A queer kid in Podunk, AB can connect with other queers anywhere in the world. We can find countless representations of queer lives and history with the flick of a finger. However, this is only true if you have a private Internet connection. Broadband—let alone 4G—is still not widely available in rural areas.
As an urban queer, I often forget that my lifestyle may be very different from a rural one. I have the privilege of anonymity—I still encounter homophobia, but the bigot yelling out of his truck window probably doesn't know who I am. I don't know if the same can be said in a rural community. I am not trying to suggest that rural communities are more homophobic than urban ones, but rather that the stakes are different. I organize, and hear about, most events through social media and its easy for me to forget that the kind of accessible community this garners is not a universal queer experience in this country.
I originally wanted to celebrate how Perceptions grounds someone in their local community in a way that the Internet might not. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that Perceptions is not a hipster magazine; it is not "old school" because it wants to be, but because it has to be. For queers in the smallest hamlets, Perceptions is still a lifeline for those looking for a queer community. As the conversation about queer spaces continues to gear up in this city, I wonder if those of us who find community through the Internet are going to forget that this still isn't the case for everyone.
In the meantime, here's wishing Perceptions another 30 years. V
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