Pride History

June 23, 2014

jcs.48.1_frontThe Stonewall Riots that took place in New York City in 1969, marked the beginning of the gay liberation movement. This movement transformed the oppression of the LGBTIQQ2SA community into pride. Pride Toronto has existed since the late 1970s and have organized annual pride celebrations since 1981.

Canada’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in Canada are considered some of the most advanced in the Americas and the world. It is often referred to as one of the most gay friendly cities in the world. However, it was long journey to reach this point. Learn all about the history of LGBTIQQ2SA rights in these articles from the Canadian Historical Review and the Journal of Canadian Studies:



Journal of Canadian Studies 48.1 (2014): 5-275.
David S. Churchill

Written by two members of the activist and liberationist group Toronto Gay Action, Herb Spiers and David Newcome, “We Demand” utilized liberationist rhetoric while articulating a reformist political agenda. Although TGA was part of an emergent radical sexual liberationist movement, one that would most famously find its voice in the Toronto-based periodical the Body Politic, the brief itself was designed for broad political appeal that would be palatable to more cautious and reformist allies such as those in CHAT, as TGA’s minutes of 11 July 1971 reveal. As such, most of the demands focussed not on subjective or community-based forms of sexual liberation, expression, and consciousness, but rather on law reform and the regulatory policies of the Canadian government. Some of the listed demands included the removal of vague terms such as “gross indecency” and “indecent act” from the Criminal Code (1953-54, s. 149, s. 158) and the specification of illegal acts, the adoption of a uniform age of consent, amendments to the Immigration Act (1952) to remove references to homosexuality, the right to serve in the armed forces, and the end to discrimination in employment by the federal government and the monitoring of homosexual employees within the federal government (Toronto Gay Action 1971).

All of these demands for change were significant, in no small part because a great deal of same-sex sexuality in Canada—sexual acts, zones of sexual contact, forms of sexual expression and representation—remained illegal, or at best lay within a grey zone of criminality. For example, sex between more than two persons, even if these activities took place in the privacy of a home, remained illegal and subject to criminal prosecution. Trudeau’s famous statement that “There’s no place for the State in the bedrooms of the nation” (CBC 1967) had presumptive limits about what constituted legitimate sexual activity within the bedrooms of Canadians. Implicit in Trudeau’s statement were a range of assumptions about privacy and bedrooms that privileged individuals who were able to secure, control, and regulate their own domestic space. Such rooms of one’s own remained a luxury for many Canadians, however—particularly those who lived with their families, in various forms of shared accommodation, and in boarding houses or institutional settings.

Korinek, Valere J. “‘The Most Openly Gay Person for at Least a Thousand Miles’: Doug Wilson and the Politicization of a Province, 1975-83.” Canadian Historical Review 84.4 (2003): 517-50.

Being ‘the most openly gay person for at least a thousand miles in any direction’ meant that Wilson personified the gay movement for residents of the province. Yet Wilson felt aggrieved that his case, and its outcome, did not reverberate nationally. ‘I really think that because I wasn’t from Toronto that the kinds of lessons that could have been learned from my case were never examined where they should have been in a national forum,’ he complained. The ensuing years have not redressed that situation. This article seeks to correct that neglect through a comprehensive analysis of Wilson’s case against the University of Saskatchewan, as well as an assessment of his legacy.

Robinson, Daniel J., and David Kimmel. “The Queer Career of Homosexual Security Vetting in Cold War Canada.” Canadian Historical Review 75.3 (1994): 319-45.

While scholarly work has elucidated Ottawa’s handling of political and ideological threats during the Cold War, another important subject has received only passing notice: the federal government’s security investigation and subsequent firing of homosexuals during the 1950s and 1960s. When the episode was recently brought to public attention, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney denounced it as ‘one of the greatest outrages and violations of human rights’ which even ‘the passage of time…[has not made] any less odious.’ This ‘odious’ event was a peculiar product of Cold War era ‘insecurities.’ Government officials maintained that homosexuals fearing public exposure were security risks owing to their susceptibility to blackmail by hostile intelligence agencies. Along with political subversives and foreign spies, they were considered legitimate targets of investigation.

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