When we’re unhappy about something, we complain out loud; when we’re satisfied, we often say nothing at all. In the past, I’ve written to Xtra! twice to complain about its one-sided depiction of the gay and lesbian community, most recently requesting more positive images of non-freaks (Marcus McCann’s word). Today, I thank Xtra! for a job well done.
In 2010, the cover of the Xtra! Pride issue depicted--what else?--go-go boys dancing in their underwear. This year, the Pride issue featured an older gentleman, thin, grey hair on his head, wearing a “Loving Spoonful” T-shirt. What a positive image for the community: a senior supporting a worthwhile organization.
Reviewing my collection of Xtra! issues from the past two years (45 in total), I found seven with covers featuring people with grey hair (16% of the total). Of those, only two depicted people with grey hair in a positive way (a PWA survivor and seniors still having sex). That’s less than 4%. From this, you’d think the gay and lesbian community belonged to only those under 35.
That’s me on the most recent cover of your newspaper, albeit in about twenty years. That’s all of us, sooner or later, if we’re lucky. And it’s critical our media, like Xtra!, show us ourselves in a positive and uplifting manner, during all phases of our lives--not ignore us, hide us, or make us invisible. Those with grey hair especially deserve to be proud.
The following email was received from Robin Perelle, editor of Xtra! Vancouver, in response to my letter:
Thank you! I appreciate all your feedback. I am especially glad that this year’s Pride cover resonated with you. That’s exactly what I was aiming to convey.
Much to my surprise, this letter appears in the recent issue of Xtra!, #470, dated August 25, 2011.