Other Histories

A journey through time with Go Info

Ottawa’s first publication for gay, lesbian and bisexual people reported on the ups, downs, and internal and external battles of an evolving queer community

I recently spent over four hours in the Main branch of the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) sifting through issues of Go Info. Go Info was first published by Gays of Ottawa and continued under the organization’s later names, Association of Lesbians and Gays of Ottawa (ALGO) and finally the Association of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Ottawa (ALGBO). The name changes reflect the gradual involvement of lesbians and bisexuals after the various groups acknowledged they were oppressed in the same ways and had the same political goals. The T was added much later, but by then Go Info had ceased publishing. The OPL’s run starts with volume 2 number 4, 1975 and ends with volume 24 number 8, 1995.

My interest in Go Info was to see if I could find any item that might be pertinent to Ottawa’s trans history. Trans people did not appear in its pages often, and when they did, they weren’t regarded during this period as colleagues in a shared fight. The articles were more of an informational nature, not unlike what you’d find in a mainstream publication, but for the acknowledgement that trans folks were present on the fringes of the gay community.

This isn’t surprising, as it took years for lesbians and gay men to work together, and as late as the December/January 1991/92 issue an article appeared protesting that bisexual people were still not taken seriously.

Overall, it was a fascinating four hours of reading. While my primary interest in Go Info was trans, reading through it revealed the similarities in our history, although gays, lesbians and bisexuals went through it all decades earlier. In the end, I found only four articles on trans people, and only one of historical interest.

When I first asked about Go Info at the OPL, it had been so long since someone requested it that they couldn’t find it. Cheers to the staff at the OPL, however, for staying with the search. When they located it, they seemed as excited as I was. Anyone interested in the slow progress of queer rights will find Go Info to be a valuable historical resource.

Incidentally, while I use “queer” as shorthand for all that Go Info covers over the course of the 20 years I scanned, there was a debate in its pages during this time whether it was appropriate to adopt a word that had for so long been a homophobic expression of hate. It’s gratifying that “queer” no longer has such an association.