FEBRUARY 5: Carol Philipps (1965-2009)


Born in 1965, Carol Anne Philipps is primarily known for working as the original editor of Swerve, the first LGBT community magazine in Winnipeg, Canada (now retitled Outwords). She was a journalist and activist who worked to expand LGBT visibility and rights in the region.

She came out in high school – which must have been a pretty isolating experience since Winnipeg didn’t have yet any kind of visible LGBT community – no center, no Pride parade. She had a relationship with cartoonist Noreen Stevens (the creator of The Chosen Family comic strip) and studied at the University of Winnipeg where she got involved in the student newspaper, The Uniter. Later on, she moved to Vancouver, where she campaigned for Betty Baxter, an openly lesbian candidate in the 1993 federal election.

Carol Philipps in 1993, source

In 1994, she returned to Winnipeg and set out to push for LGBT rights there. The situation wasn’t exactly a perfect one: the mayor of the time had refused a request to proclaim the city’s Pride Day, the Winnipeg School Division had voted against an anti-homophobia curriculum, and a man had recently been murdered in an anti-gay hate crime. This led to community activists banding together and resulted in the creation of Swerve, of which Philipps was the first editor. She only stepped down from her editor’s position in 1997, for health reasons, but that didn’t stop her from contributing to the magazine and others, as a freelance writer.

She met her partner Virginia McKee in 1995; they got married in 2007. Sadly, two years later, Philipps died due to a congenital heart condition.

– AK