Gay Alliance Toward Equality

Circa 1973-74, though other groups still existed GATE seemed the last remnant of real gay activism in the city, other than the BP. Both Charlie and I would trot along to meetings as we could to see what was happening, keep in touch, but I just couldn't rouse much enthusiasm for their particular approach. At least as far as I remember. Still, in the 1970's the gay movement was our lives, so whether we did things on our own or within a group, we looked for ways to fit in.

Even if I saw it as only a part of gay liberation, I was all in favour of civil rights, and that was GATE's meat and potatoes. On the one hand no-one ever accused the group of being exciting. To my mind if you put the civil service in charge of the gay movement that would be GATE. On the other hand I suppose they way they operated had much to do with the ends they were working towards. They did provide a structure for the push towards rights, and for pushback. So there you go.

I tried to get to the demos and public events as I could, occasionally hand out flyers, and so on, the sort of thing required when there was a gay battle going. Particularly in those days it could get lonely for gay activists and helping to show the flag could be something of a civic duty. It was a way for me to contribute and I think I was reasonably conscientous about it. The whole business is basically reactive though, and after the 500'th picket there is no way to keep from questioning the process.

Rummaging, other things do show up -- a 1974 interview with Ken Popert and me in the Ryerson Eye that took place in the BP/GATE office on Carlton St. Probably I'd just happened to drop by to gab. An entry showing a series of small post-dated cheques payable to GATE I'd written in 1976-77, maybe to help support John Damien. An old GATE poster for a dance at Holy Trinity, on the back of which Charlie has scribbled some notes. And so on.

GATE dances were of course a way of socializing with old friends, keeping the connections alive, even if for me nothing could replace the feeling of the early CHAT dances. Mind you, at a dance I was often off in my own world anyways.

gate kiss-in demo, later 1970's
July 17, 1976, corner of Yonge & Bloor, Toronto. GATE kiss-in, a response to two guys being convicted of an indecent act for kissing on Bloor Street. Peter Zorzi handing out leaflets, Jerry Moldenhauer is to the left, Robert Trow at the right margin. The photo comes from the contact sheet, can't find the negs, so it's a bit fuzzy.

1977 gate dance poster
1977 GATE dance poster