COMICON.com: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING LITTLE SISTER'S
THE PULSE: What is Little Sister's?
MARK MACDONALD: Little Sister's Book & Art Emporium is a bookstore serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered communities in Vancouver, Canada. As well as having the largest selection of lesbian and gay books in the world, we also sell clothing, music, films (video & DVD), cards, magazines, adult movies and toys, etc ....
THE PULSE: When did your problems with Canadian Customs begin?
MM: The store opened in 1983, and we've always had to import most of our stock from the US, so Customs gets lots of chances to look in our shipments. They started hassling us in a major way in about '85. That year, they seized the store's big Christmas shipment, to "review" the material to see if it was "obscene." Willfully, Customs was putting the store's livelihood at risk, as Christmas represents a huge sales period for any retailer. At the time, Canada Customs was a far more homophobic outfit. They decided that because we were a lesbian and gay place, we MUST be importing obscenity i.e. gay men and lesbians are obscene, after all. So they started to detain pretty much every shipment destined for the store.
[. . .] THE PULSE: How can anyone help you with this court case [details of which available at the link]?
MM: We are always accepting donations to the Little Sister's Defense Fund. This is in place to help us raise the estimated $150,000 we'll need to fight our next battle in court. To date we've spent over half a million dollars, and we couldn't do it without donations. Canadian citizens can get a tax receipt from the BC Civil Liberties Assoc, too. Or buy a copy of What's Wrong?
Or if you have experiences dealing with Canada Customs and comic books in the past five or six years, please email us with your story. It may help to illustrate to the courts that the problem is ongoing and that their solutions to date haven't helped.
IF you're interested in learning more, a whole history of our court case is available on line at our web site: www.lsisters.com/court.html What's Wrong is available from Little Sister's. Next spring, it will be distributed in the US by Diamond, among other distributors.
Comics are so low on the cultural radar -- especially non-superhero comics -- that this probably isn't going to get much mention even in the GLBT press. (Luckily, some of us have a sister who freelances for Windy City Times, and sometimes even returns phone messages.) And somehow, problems with Canadian customs, not really a concern in the U.S.
And of course, the free speech/obscenity angle runs into good ol' domestic homophobia, so that's going to cut down on support . . .
I should write something positive at some point.