TQC: A history of the Trent Queer Collective

queer issue

The Trent Lesbian and Gay Collective sent out their first newsletter in 1987 and did absolutely nothing till the nineties.

Well not really, but this is the story the “archive” tells. Going from the self representation paper, I give you:

The new definitive and very authoritative history of the TQC! (In my opinion, it’s completely official and unbiased, like all histories.)

We start off in 1996, with “Queer?” The letter from the editor page begins to tell me that the “Queer?” began in ‘95, but there is no copy within the TQC office. This was a pretty big disappointment, as writing this made me realize pretty quickly that many of the stories we tell get lost almost as soon as they’re spoken. More on that later.

In the 1996 issue of “Queer?” I found a bit of writing credited to “Emily Glasspool”. It was a name I recognized mostly from the defunct Barbeside, but also from Courage Peterborough. Em also put on plays with Mysterious Entity Theatre (check out Romeo and Juliet. In Space. On Ice). I decided this was my best bet in terms of getting a chance to actually talk about… the 90’s.

Em remembers some things that made me really… weirdly jealous. I sorta forget that it’s been twenty years since the 90’s, and it sounds like Peterborough was a different place.

For one thing, the Red Dog hosted “The Loud Sisters” every Wednesday. The band was mostly made up of queer women, and drew a huge queer crowd. Let’s all sigh a nostalgic sigh at what once was, shall we?

Then there was the Underdog, now “The Rock and Roll Underground”, a smaller, more bare-bones rock bar. When I first came to Trent I kept hearing rumours of a secret lesbian bar underneath the Red Dog (seriously). Apparently this may have been a whisper of the biweekly drag performances that Em did with David Bateman. Mostly King and Queen duets, this collaboration evolved into larger theatre pieces, most notably “Pool for Love”. Overall, it seems like the queers of yesteryear had more to turn to and more ways to get involved.

Which brings me to reflect on the contested history of Queerlines/Queer?/Queer! It started in 1995, apparently, and came to an end in 2012. There had been arguments over accurate representation, general controversy, and some students were angry their levy money was going towards what they viewed as porn.

What stood out to me was how much of the present I’m seeing echoed in the past. While we currently don’t have a central, Trent-based means of communicating the needs, fears and desires of the queer student, the piece I found in the 1997 issue seemed familiar.

“We have been muddling through, providing dances, drop-ins and phone support but not much else” (Allen Pinkerton, Queer? page 6 1997). And then Allen mentions the challenges of funding, space and student apathy.

It’s likely to make a queer very depressed. So nevermind that! Never mind that these queers printed more f-words in a month than I could get away with in my life! Never mind that the persistent myth of Trent as a queer utopia continues to not be true.

Let’s focus on the big picture. From 1995-2012, Trans* issues went from not being discussed to being central to queer talks… I mean, old hub members went to “Michigan” and didn’t even discuss the policy (no longer a thing) of trans* woman exclusion.

However, the sometimes radical, usually political, articles of the past seem to have given way to a growing focus on LIVE! NUDE! QUEERS! Not that those two things are mutually exclusive, but I am a gentle creature of words and easily scandalized!

This article has been hard to write, mostly because the “facts” aren’t really there. There’s a list naming the contributors, but no contact information. Ads for the long lost “Friends”. Just little bits and pieces like that.

Reading through the “archives” you get a rough sense of what a small group of students really cared about, but not the climate on campus. You can see how much things change in four years, while the fundamental problems remain too big, too scary, to tackle in this time.

Also, some people left some photos in the office. A whole bunch of them. You guys are all adorable.

Want to make your voice heard and usher the queers of Peterborough into a new era of hope and wonder? Join the TQC hub.

“But how?” you ask. Send us an email at trentqueercollective@gmail.com. Or give your message to a cat. Queers love cats and it’s about time they started giving back.

Want something to do on Thursday October 30? Come to the TQC’s Masqueerade! Satisfy your fiendish cravings for glitz, glamour and gore. (9pm, at the Sapphire Lounge. Bring valid ID because we love this bar and want it to stay a bar.)