QUEER CATHARSISFor Charlie Dobie who keeps me half-way civil and mostly sane, and who suggested I call my Toronto Area Gays epic Gaylord Of The Rings.
And thanks to Harold Averill and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives for their assistance and indulgence.
The simplest description of this website is that it covers the intersection of our lives, Charlie's and mine, with gay liberation and the Canadian gay movement of the 1970's. There are no claims for it beyond that. Most of it was written decades ago, make of it what you will.
By the time Charlie and I delivered our multi-boxes of gay movement bits and pieces to the CLGA in the late 1980's, much that was most interesting had disappeared. Sorting through those boxes at the Archives, it seemed to me their contents didn't amount to a hill of beans, so I set out to give them some backstory. Most important was to assemble something on Toronto Area Gays, an organization that a good many people had put much work into. That took longer than expected and I was running out of time and patience by the time I tackled the rest. As a result, much of the guide to our Archives accession ended up disjointed and semi-literate at best.
The anecdotes in the guide, presented here, were for the most part centred on the pieces of paper that managed to make it into the accession. If there had been other pieces of paper there would have been other stories. In no way am I or was I going to try to write a history of the period or its organizations with the possible exception of TAG. And even that section I see as a discussion of Toronto Area Gays rather than a comprehensive history.
On this website I've included, in some cases, lists of the accession items. Hopefully that might give some flavour or added worth to the site. The very significant addition to what was in the guide is of course Charlie's photographs. As we come across more I'll try to put them on.
The importance of the 1970's was the sea change in how we, as a community and as individuals, saw ourselves and how we chose to address the gulf between this and the way society viewed us. In addition the networks people formed in that decade, and the experience gained, were of great importance to how things developed in the future. To which it needs to be added we were not the first to think the way we did and likewise our actions found their roots in previous decades.
In the end the most I'm hoping for with this website is some sense of the times in which to place Charlie and myself, and Toronto Area Gays. This is of course a personal website, so no apologies as it steers full speed in that direction.
Now in place at bottom of page
Things change, things stay the same
A few weeks ago a TV producer was asking me if I remembered anything about the homophobic murder of Kenneth Zeller in High Park. I knew nothing except what I'd read about it. But in 1985 at the time his murderers were sentenced I did happen to write myself this little note. So bye the bye here it is. For those unfamiliar with them, Philosophers Walk was among other things a gay cruising ground. Likewise St. Joseph St., which was also a site of gay clubs for decades.
"Judge gave out 9 year sentences to 5 kids who murdered librarian in High Park. He called it an 'execution' but the sentences mean they can be out on day parole in 18 months and full parole in 3 years.
Couple of weeks ago guys in Philosophers Walk with pipes beating up people.
Also on St. Joseph St. bunch of goons slashed a group of five with knives.
Cops are arresting people in Parkside's washrooms again. Courtwatch thinks approximately 600 people will be arrested in washrooms in the city this year."
STILL TO COME
-- Every few years I add a bit to this website. At some point I'm hoping to include an anecdotal section on my gay life, such as it was, in Montreal for 1964-70, with a year of Vancouver circa 1965-6 thrown in, plus some Toronto bar life for the period 1969-71 and perhaps onwards. A purely personal perspective, as always. And annoyingly vague, but it was a long time ago.
-- of note, a new introduction added in 2016 to the page on Toronto Prideweeks in the 1970s, including a small screed on historical inaccuracy and historical condescension
- SMALL TOWN PRIDE, EASTERN ONTARIO:
A mix of photos from Perth Pride Parades 2014-16; and a bit of reflection on Prides from long ago and now
- A LIST:
Here's a short chronology of letters and articles of mine from the 1970's on this website. It details when and where they first appeared. Like everything else here they are what they are and there's no point in making claims for them beyond that.
- TGA - Toronto Gay Action:
Me and the bars and Charlie and TGA -- mostly about where I was coming from
- TGA - Yonge St. Zap:
Just a bit of Toronto Gay Action street theatre circa 1971, three photos
- TGA - Zap Of The Pretzel Bell:
Guerilla article of mine from September, 1971
- AUGUST 28, 1971 -- WE DEMAND:
The proclamation of our existence as a community and as a movement
- THE BODY POLITIC:
Starting the BP, 1971
- CHAT Community Centre Opens:
Guerilla article of mine from January, 1972
- CHAT - Community Homophile Association of Toronto:
Bits and pieces
- TGA, CHAT Campaign Against The Parkside Tavern:
Two Guerilla articles, one each by Charlie and me from January, February, 1972
- GATE - Gay Alliance Towards Equality:
Just to round things out
- GUY AND ME:
Gay Lib goes to prison, one thing leads to another
- A SORDID TALE:
1973 and I'm attacked by a separatist lesbian and picket a Gay Pride Dance, woe is me !
- GAY PICNIC 1971, TORONTO GAY PRIDE WEEKS 1972-1974, GAYDAYS 1978:
The events schedules, for those who still don't believe such things happened; also the 1971 Gay Picnic
- TORONTO GAY PRIDE MARCH 1974:
Photographs of the 1974 march
- MEDIA WARS 1
Letter to Sydney Katz: re his article in the Toronto Star "Homosexuals, Sick or Not"
- MEDIA WARS 2
Open Letter To The Toronto Star: The battles with the Toronto Star serve as a stand-in for all the media battles of the 1970's; with an addendum on The Globe & Mail
- LOVE, VARIETIES OF
Meanwhile, at The Globe & Mail
- CGRO MARCH AND RALLY, 1975:
Photographs of the Coalition For Gay Rights In Ontario march from Queen's Park to a rally at Toronto City Hall, Sept.13, 1975
- 1975 THIRD NATIONAL CONFERENCE:
Gay community or civil rights community?
- TORONTO AREA GAYS: WHAT WE DID AND WHY WE DID IT:
This discussion of Toronto Area Gays is the main entry on this website. TAG spanned 1975-2008. This covers its beginnings circa 1975-80
The peel-back TAG sticker, its words carefully chosen.
Part of our effort to expand the community, to provide an entry point, the sticker was put up in the first few years all over Metropolitan Toronto. For myself that's how I saw TAG, as an immigration centre of sorts, providing acclimatization and assistance as people passed through us, whether to the bars, our sub-groups, other groups and activities, or elsewhere in the community. Bit of a laugh that Charlie typset the sticker at the Star, where he worked, given the Star's stance at the time.
- CHARLIE INTERVIEWED ABOUT TAG:
In the September, 1976 issue of Other Voices, University of Waterloo
- TAG PHOTOS:
Photos of some but far from all TAG members circa 1975-1982
- TAG POSTSCRIPT 1989:
Further thoughts on TAG
- 1976 FOURTH CONFERENCE, TORONTO:
A few photos from the march and rally
- MUCH SYMPATHY, NOT MUCH TEA:
In a 1977 letter Ed Broadbent clarifies his position on the NDP and gay issues and it turns out to be the same old same old
- 1977 FIFTH NATIONAL CONFERENCE, SASKATOON:
Photographs of people and the march
- GAY NEWS AND VIEWS, 1977-78:
LGBTQ Cable TV show, a Charlie connection
- ANITA BRYANT PROTEST, 1978:
Photographs of the night march up Yonge St., January 14, 1978
- One Day From GAYDAYS, 1978:
Photos of the Fair at Queen's Park
- GAY LIBERATION UNION, 1979:
- AFTER THE BATHHOUSE RAIDS, 1981:
- TORONTO PRIDE PARADE, 1981:
A few photos
- THE NUNS AT CITY HALL, DECEMBER 1981:
The Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence show how its done
- THE FAB FRUITS VISIT BAY STREET:
Photos from the early days of the Fruits of Fruit Cocktail
- THE PINK SATIN BOMBERS:
A gay theatre company from Rochester NY, in rehearsal and performance in Toronto, Feb./March, 1982
- SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND THE ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS CODE:
1) Gay Teachers, A Letter, 1977;
2) Dec.2, 1986 -- In The Queen's Park Galleries On The Day
- A SMALL GAY SUPPORT GROUP:
A small support group coming out of the 1982 Doing It conference; call it consciousness raising, call it discovery, discussion, support, whatever, this sort of thing was an important part of gay lib for me from early days at CHAT to its formal place for years within Toronto Area Gays to this last gasp here.
- LESBIAN & GAY WRITERS GROUP:
Charlie and this group circa 1988-90; and a link to his stories & poems
- CHARLIE AND HIS CAMERA:
Kai Visionworks, GCDC, Lesbian & Gay Community Appeal, Guerilla
A sampling of its gay content
- RTPC SUPPORT AND COUNSELLING COMMITTEE:
Charlie was on this committee following the raids of 1981
- OTHER CHARLIE STUFF:
Gay Stamp And Coin Collectors Club; Our True Colours
- DACHAU, 1976:
- Another SORDID TALE: The BP, 1978
- LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Before the internet this was one of the only forums for comment. In an era of great media hostility towards us they were an attempt to get a little contrary opinion before the country; and to signal to gay people outside the community that we were here and things were changing and they should come and find us. And of course sometimes a letter was just a way to let off a little steam.
- ETC: Etcetera