Section 2: "Out of the Closet" On Aug 28, the first demonstration by lesbians and gays in Canada was held in Ottawa with a simultaneous demonstration in Vancouver. Participants in the Ottawa demonstration came from across Ontario and Quebec. The brief laid out ten demands to end discrimination against homosexuals ranging from criminal code changes to human rights protection; including a demand to end the ban on homosexuals coming into the country and a demand to know if the government was investigating gays working in the public sector.
Among the spokespersons at the demonstration was Charlie Hill, then a member of the Homophile Association at University of Toronto and later, Gays of Ottawa.
The ten demands that they put before Parliament that day set the agenda for lesbian and gay rights for the next thirty years. This was the first public demonstration by gays and lesbians in Canada.
It represented the beginning of a movement; a new generation inspired by the Civil Rights movement of American blacks, the birth of the women's liberation movement and the anti-Viet Nam War movement see video clip "Out of the closet". Their response to the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada inin the now famous words of Trudeau "the state has no place in the bedrooms of the Oytawa was to point out that the 'right to privacy' did not mean an end to discrimination.
Instead, gay liberationists demanded to live openly and they encouraged lesbians and gay men to come out of the closet. Where ly the experience of gays and lesbians had been isolation, repression and fear, gay liberation represented a new, radical, grass roots movement. Not limited to a narrow 'rights' agenda; gay liberation focused on attaining rights and equality as a framework to inspire a social movement and to challenge discrimination.
Lesbian dating in ontario
As Chris Bearchell recalled, "we saw the gay rights strategy as Lesbkans that would radicalize, politicize and mobilize people" see photos: "Gay Liberation". Throughout this period a of new organizations sprang up including a series of Pan-Canadian Gay Rights Conferences. These conferences gave birth to the National Gay Election Coalition inwhich hounded Prime Minister Trudeau at election rallies throughout the campaign.
Its goals were "the removal of all federal legislation which permits, condones or encourages discrimination against homosexuals" and "the implementation of legislatively guaranteed civil rights for gay people. These groups formed the political Lesbiana of the gay liberation movement.
Stand Together looks at the Ontario based part of this history focusing on the first decade of the Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario. Much of the early organizing effort of gay liberation groups was focused on overcoming the isolation gay men and lesbians experienced Lesboans engaging in public education against widespread homophobia; setting up phone lines, services, dances, social events.
The ottxwa emphasized visibility and encouraging people to come out of the closet as a necessary pre-condition to building a movement for social acceptance and an end to oppression. As lesbians and gays came out they encountered wide spread homophobia.
In the early seventies, The Body Politic emerged as an important and hard-hitting national gay liberation newspaper. One article entitled: "The Halloween Ottaa " focused attention on the organized gay bashing of drag queens on Yonge Street in Toronto on Halloween.
Lesbian dating profiles found in ottawa, ontario - girlfriendsmeet
Crowds used to form in front of the Charles Street Tavern on Yonge street for the purpose of hurling eggs and insults Lesbuans drag queens. In response to this the gay community organized "Operation Jack-o-Lantern", the first gay defense group, which patrolled the back alleys to defend gays from attacks see video: "Operation Jack-o-Lantern ".
The demand for human rights protection emerged by the early seventies. Ten years after the Criminal Code Amendments, the Toronto Globe and Mail December 17, published a weekend news special "Gay in the Seventies" flying in gay liberation leaders for a photo-op.
A year and half prior to the Globe and Mail survey, the Gay Alliance Towards Equality in Toronto had organized a public "kiss-in" demonstration on July 17 The demonstration was to protest the fact that two men had been found guilty of committing an indecent act for kissing on Bloor Street in Toronto. Given the widespread nature of homophobia across society, the need for human rights protection on the basis of sexual orientation became an important goal of the movement - for more on the strategy othawa mobilization to win greater rights and freedoms, see Human Rights.
Acknowledgement: I am indebted to Tom Warner, for his tireless support, consultation and perspectives while I was working on Stand Together.