As we approach the April 8th release of A Family by Any Other Name, I’d like to introduce you to some of the book’s contributors.
Danny Glenwright is the managing editor of Xtra newspaper in Toronto. His essay is called “A History of Peregrination.”
How did you find out about this project?
Bruce Gillespie got in touch hoping I’d know of some LGBT writers who had good stories. Modest as always, I suggested myself — along with a handful of other writers.
Why did you decide to contribute? How did you decide what to write about?
My husband and I had recently returned from living in South Africa, and I wanted to share our stories of racism and discrimination. It also looked like a really interesting project.
Tell us a bit about yourself, both your life and your writing experience.
My love of journalism began in Winnipeg about 15 years ago, when I was an arts and culture writer for Swerve, the city’s LGBT newspaper. I moved to Toronto in 2002 to attend Ryerson University’s four-year journalism program — that’s where I met Bruce. He was my instructor in a course on how to freelance. Thanks to his help, I went on to do a bit of freelancing and I have written for various magazines, guidebooks and newspapers.
I’m currently the managing editor of Xtra newspaper in Toronto. I’ve been with the paper for almost three years and spend much of my time editing the work of others rather than writing my own — another reason I jumped at this opportunity.
Before Xtra, I spent much of my professional career working in human rights and media training in Africa and the Middle East, including in South Africa, where I was the communications manager at Gender Links, a regional gender and media organization. While there I was a columnist for South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper — a sister paper to the UK’s Guardian. I also co-authored the groundbreaking Gender and Media Progress Study, which looked at general media practise, gender in the media, HIV and AIDS and gender violence by analyzing more than 30,000 news items in 14 countries.
Prior to my time at Gender Links, I worked as a communications officer and media trainer for the United Nations Association International Service (UNAIS) at Bethlehem University in the Palestinian territories. I have also worked in Rwanda with UNESCO and I spent two years as a media trainer with Journalists for Human Rights in Namibia and Sierra Leone.
I have won several awards for my international work, including the 2006 Canada-EU Young Journalist Award. In 2011, I completed a master in international cooperation and development and my thesis focused on the use of new media to empower women in Africa.
Did writing about your own experiences prove challenging in any way?
It can sometimes be challenging to imagine that there’s anything interesting about one’s history and personal life. Even though they are personal essays, I often felt I was sharing too much or writing too much about myself — or appearing narcissistic. At the end of the day, Bruce encouraged me to write even more personal details, which meant lots of dredging up of old memories.
What did you get out of writing an essay for this collection?
I realized (even more than I already knew) that I sure love my husband. I feel a bit like the piece is a testament to our relationship and our resilience in the face of external pressures and our own personal hang-ups. I get all sappy when I read it and then seek him out for a big wet kiss. It’s a bit odd putting all our personal details out into the world, but also quite fun. I can’t wait to see what readers think of it.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like readers to know about?
Nothing other than the bi-weekly rhythm of Xtra — stay tuned for coverage of this anthology.