As the largest Canadian gay and lesbian newspaper from 1971 to 1987, The Body Politic not only shaped the political landscape of gay liberation but also mediated understandings and assumptions around gay male masculinity. The editorial collective behind The Body Politic addressed masculinity in myriad ways, sometimes directly in editorials on gender and sexuality, but more often indirectly as part of discussions around race, desire, the body, space, and HIV/AIDS. In doing so, The Body Politic served an important role in mediating the gendered, racial, sexual, and spatial politics of desire and identity in Toronto's gay male community. The newspaper was an important interactive platform for collective members and readers alike to explore and express apprehensions around heteronormative, ableist, and racial influences on gay male masculinity as a performative style.
This dissertation thematically examines masculinity in The Body Politic. Each chapter focuses on a different topic: pornography and visual culture, the hypersexualized white able-bodied "macho clone," the navigation of space and place, the inscription of colonial values of effeminancy or hypermasculinity on racialized bodies, and the marginalization of disabled bodies and bodies debilitated by AIDS that did not "perform" a sexualized idea of masculinity. By visualizing gay masculinity in particular and often contradictory ways, The Body Politic reinforced and challenged the self-regulation of hegemonic masculinity in gay male culture. My analysis of The Body Politic reveals that not only were the aesthetics of gay male masculinity fundamental to the politics of desire and liberation within the gay male community, but that the newspaper played an important part in legitimizing and destabilizing these desires.