Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett is a Canadian writer, editor, journalist and columnist. His column and blog, "Three Dollar Bill", deals with gay life and culture across Canada and around the world. Burnett was also editor-at-large of Montreal's alternative newsweekly Hour for 15 years until the newspaper published its last issue on April 7, 2011.[1] Burnett wrote his POP TART blog [2] for the Montreal Gazette from 2011 to 2016, as well as his weekly Seven Days, Seven Nights arts column [3] from 2014 to 2016. Burnett is a frequent contributor to the Montreal Gazette and other media outlets, is a pop culture pundit on Montreal's top-rated CJAD 800 AM Radio and is an arts and culture blogger for Tourisme Montréal.[4] Burnett has also been a regular writer and columnist for both Xtra! and Fugues since 1998.

Burnett was one of the original organizers of Montreal’s internationally renowned Divers/Cité festival, was the founding president of the Montreal chapter of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, is a regular lecturer and panelist at universities and conferences, co-starred in the first season of the Life Network’s reality TV series Out in the City,[5] and has been interviewed and profiled in publications across Canada, Europe and the U.S., including Xtra!, Ryerson Review of Journalism, Washington Blade, Masthead, Passport Magazine, Australia's DNA and the international Dutch magazine WINQ.[6] Burnett was named one of Alberta-based Outlooks magazine's Canadian Heroes of the Year in their June 2009 issue,[7] was dubbed "Canada’s bad boy syndicated gay columnist" by porn director Flash Conway and is also listed by Quebec's French-language gay publication Fugues as one of that province's 100 most influential gay Quebecers.[8] "As Michael Musto is to New York City, Richard Burnett is to Montréal," The Montréal Buzz stated in April 2010.[9]

Three Dollar BillEdit

The column debuted in July 1996 and ran in several alternative newsweeklies, LGBTQ publications and websites, including Vue Weekly (Edmonton), Uptown (Winnipeg), Pulse Niagara, View Magazine (Hamilton), Echo Weekly (Kitchener), Ottawa XPress, Fab (Toronto), Here magazine (New Brunswick), Current magazine (Newfoundland and Labrador), the Tampa Bay Gazette, and, for 15 years. Three Dollar Bill was the first—and remains the only—syndicated LGBTQ column in Canadian publishing history.

The column first made national news in September 1998 when Winnipeg’s Uptown magazine dropped the column after one installment ignited a citywide furor over gay sex.

"After the column was published a local radio personality read excerpts over the air as an example of the kind of material easily accessed by Winnipeg children," Toronto-based Masthead magazine reported in its Nov/Dec 1998 issue. "Reaction was swift and ferocious. Uptown managing editor Jason Nichol says he was "inundated" with angry phone calls and letters; advertisers were chagrined and large-scale distribution points were jeopardized. Nichol says he had no choice but to kill the column. There wasn't a peep of outrage in Edmonton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Ottawa or Montreal where other publications carried the same column."

As Montreal Gazette columnist Bill Brownstein reported in his July 26, 2006 column [10] on the 10th anniversary of Three Dollar Bill,

Over the last decade, his column has been dropped by a Winnipeg weekly after complaints about its graphic content, and underwent an investigation by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary for being 'pornographic'. Current Parti Québécois leader André Boisclair is no fan of the man, after Burnett outed him [in 1997] - not out of malice but because Burnett felt that Boisclair, a PQ cabinet minister at the time, was being hypocritical and hurtful.

Brownstein also writes, "Burnett has interviewed celebs from diva Cher to author Anne Rice. He has crossed swords with B.B. King and Mordecai Richler. He has outed Ricky Martin—again for hypocrisy—and outraged Cyndi Lauper. And he's had death threats."

Burnett was quoted about rising new HIV supervirus infections in a POZ cover story called "Bite the Bullet" as saying that "If you want to play God, [deliberately] spread HIV and ruin other lives in the process—then do us all a g------ favor and put a f------ bullet through your head instead.”[11]

Burnett's 2004 Hour cover story interview with Jamaican dancehall performer Sizzla [12] was reported on national newscasts in Canada and made international headlines—including in Jamaica's national newspaper The Jamaica Gleaner[13]—after Sizzla told Burnett, "[Homosexuality] is wrong! Once we stoop to sodomites and homosexuals, it is wrong! Wherever I go it is the same thing - burn sodomite, burn battyman. Burn all things that are wrong. Burn it... We must get rid of Sodom and Gomorrah right now." [12] In response to Burnett and British gay activist Peter Tatchell's criticisms, Sizzla wrote the 2005 song Nah Apologize[14] in which he repeats in the chorus, "Rastaman nah apologize to no batty bwoy!"[15]

Burnett made more news when he criticized the Federation of Gay Games decision to revoke Montreal's 2006 Gay Games after the FGG's acrimonious split with Montreal organizers.[16] "If the Gay Games are the Uganda of the sports world, then the FGG is Idi Amin," Burnett wrote.[17] Montreal went on to organize the inaugural 2006 World Outgames. Burnett later criticized[18] Montreal organizers when Montreal's World Outgames lost $5.3 million.[19]

Burnett also riled many Canadians when he critiqued the medals of Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympics. "The gold and bronze medals look like melted chocolate someone pulled out of their back pocket," Burnett told the Associated Press. "The silver medal looks like it still has foil wrap on it." [20]

Burnett also got the last-ever sit-down interview with James Brown [21] before Brown died on December 25, 2006.

Burnett cites the late Montreal newspaperman Nick Auf der Maur and The New York Times bestselling author Felice Picano as his two mentors.[22]


  1. ^ "Weekly paper Hour's fate up in the air". Montreal Gazette. Postmedia Network Inc. Archived from the original on April 11, 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  2. ^ "Richard Burnett". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  3. ^ "Richard Burnett, Special to". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  4. ^ "Our Contributors". Tourisme Montréal. Archived from the original on October 2, 2016.
  5. ^ "Out à Montréal - Telefilm Canada". Archived from the original on 2006-11-28. Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2][dead link]
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-02-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Tourisme Montréal Blog". Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  10. ^ "A decade of speaking up - with effect". 2006-07-26. Archived from the original on 2016-01-19. Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  11. ^ Evans, David (August 2005). "Bite The Bullet". POZ. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
  12. ^ a b "Sizzla - What happened to "one love"? - Hour Community". Archived from the original on 2011-02-05. Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  13. ^ Cooke, Melville (September 30, 2004). "And now, 'homofibia'(Part 1)". Gleaner Company Ltd. Archived from the original on October 28, 2004.
  14. ^ "Three Dollar Bill - Public enemy - Hour Community". Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  15. ^ "Sizzla - Nah Apologize Lyrics". Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  16. ^ [3] Archived 2011-06-06 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Three Dollar Bill - We built this city - Hour Community". Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  18. ^ "Three Dollar Bill - The last post - Hour Community". Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  19. ^ "Outgames ended up with $5M deficit: province". CBC News. November 13, 2006.
  20. ^ Italie, Leanne (February 14, 2010). "Critics poke fun at wavy look of Vancouver medals". Archived from the original on January 16, 2011.
  21. ^ "James Brown - Audience with the Godfather - Hour Community". Archived from the original on 2009-11-16. Retrieved 2015-04-25.
  22. ^ "Three Dollar Bill - Au revoir, kind of - Hour Community". Retrieved 2015-04-25.

External linksEdit