The Body Politic Affair

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The July-August issue of the Body Politic featured an article under the headline “Of Men and Boys” written by Gerald Hannon, the publication of which caused an overnight sensation throughout the gay and straight population of Canada.

The storm started when a Toronto journalist bought a copy of the B.P. on the streets. He noticed the article and did a little checking. The Community Homophile Association of Toronto (CHAT) had received a grant from the Federal Government of Canada to run a drop-in and distress centre for homosexuals in Toronto. The award of this grant under the Opportunities for Youth (OFY) programme was a highly contentious issue. The taxpayer of Canada (excluding homosexual taxpayers, of course) was indignant that his tax dollars should be going to the support of a project for those “lousy fags and queers”.

So it was that a reporter phoned CHAT and asked what association they had with the B.P. He was truthfully informed that CHAT members worked in the editorial collective of the BP and that, since both were gay liberation organisations, they had the same goals. Our reporter friend then called the BP regarding CHAT. He was told much the same thing, that the two groups worked together for the same ends.

Our eager reporter returned to the office and told his editor. The next day subscribers to the Toronto Sun (and other Canadian papers which use the same wire service) were treated to a story of how Federal tax dollars were being used to seduce boys. The editorial quoted at length from the article; however only negative and “horrifying” (to the straight public which cannot fathom the idea of gay love) segments were quoted. I am enclosing the entire original article for you to read, rather than bore you with quotes.

The Canadian public was horrified, the Canadian Government and OFY were embarrassed and the gay community was left with another false blot on its record. The editorial had overlooked a simple journalistic fact. The opinions of a newspaper are traditionally presented on the editorial page with articles being the opinion of the people who write them. The editorial had also reached the totally false conclusion that, since CHAT members worked with the BP, CHAT was automatically funding the BP without determining where the funds for the BP actually came from. Since the Body Politic had stated that they were working toward the common goals of gay liberation along with other gay organisations, the editorial writer had also falsely assumed that seduction of boys must be one of these goals. The editorial and our reporter friend had not bothered checking further to find out whether this was indeed one of the aims of gay liberation.

The BP as a matter of interest has not received a penny, of the grant money as the newspaper is funded by subscriptions and advertising revenues. The people who work on the Body Politic are not paid out of the grant which was given to CHAT. The only things in common are that both are gay liberation organisations demanding equal rights for homosexuals (and thus a threat to the straight status-quo) and that both have some personnel in common.

Gay organisations, like those in the straight community, should not be above investigation. But this investigation must be unbiased, rational and thorough – all the facts must be brought to the surface before editorial comment takes place. We do not need another “Body Politic Affair” – reporting and editorial comment like that which was written harm both the gay scene and gay liberation organisations as well as blemish the reputation of straight journalism.

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