Thursday, December 16, 2010

Queer History Censored

I regret having to write this rather depressing follow up to my post on Hide/Seek, an exhibition of queer portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

For several weeks, a controversy has been brewing. Upset by the mere existence of the exhibit, a right-wing Catholic group stirred up some entirely disingenuous anger over the inclusion of David Wojnarowicz's video "A Fire In My Belly." The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian chose to cave almost immediately to the pressure exerted by a hateful minority, erasing the pain and suffering of AIDS from history, and showing how little has changed between the creation of One Day, This Kid... and now. New York Times writer Frank Rich is absolutely right when he calls it gay bashing.

Now artist A.A. Bronson has requested that his work, "Felix, June 5, 1994" be removed from the exhibit.

Felix, June 5, 1994

Here is the letter he sent to the Director of the National Portrait Gallery:

Dear Martin Sullivan

I have sent an email to the National Gallery of Canada requesting that they remove my work “Felix, June 5, 1994″ from the “Hide/Seek” exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. I had resisted taking this step, hoping that some reconciliation could be reached regarding the censorship of the David Wojnarowicz video, but it is clear that this is not coming any time soon. As an artist who saw first hand the tremendous agony and pain that so many of my generation lived through, and died with, I cannot take the decision of the Smithsonian lightly. To edit queer history in this way is hurtful and disrespectful.

yours truly,
AA Bronson
Artistic Director

Bronson was a member of the General Idea art collective in Toronto, along with Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal. Partz and Zontal died of AIDS in 1994. Their art, as well as the collective's papers are housed by the National Gallery of Canada.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Exhibition in the Archives Gallery

The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives Gallery is proud to present Sexy SmART: Women of Beauty and Substance, an exhibition of the photography series behind the Heterosexuals for Same Sex Equality’s (HSSE) 2011 Calendar.

Sexy SmART will run from December 9th, 2010 to January 7th, 2011.  Opening Reception December 9th, 7:30pm- 10pm, 34 Isabella Street, Toronto.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CLGA featured in new on-line magazine

Check out this article about the CLGA by our own Kate Zieman in Queeries Mag.
It is a great read especially if you have only just been introduced to the Archives.
The rest of the magazine is quite interesting too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Queer History Through Portraiture

ArtInfo recently drew my attention to the National Portrait Gallery in a review of their show, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. Featuring the work of Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Georgia O'Keefe, the exhibit explores the fluidity of gender and sexuality and how queerness has been coded into art from the 1880s until today. Most striking, for me, is the work of Romaine Brooks, who was as famous for her androgynous portraiture as she was for her relationship with writer Natalie Barney.


Self-Portrait, 1923 and Una Troubridge, 1924

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

'Sup, Samtökin 78?

I was in Iceland recently, and after a really fun night at what seemed to be the only queer dance bar in Reykjavik (for some reason it's called 'Barbara'--not 'Barbra', as in Streisand, but 'Barbara' as in...?), I wanted to visit the 'National Queer Organization'. They're kind of a one-stop shop for the country's small but active LGBT contingent, with a community centre, library, and cafe. After walking up what felt like 2,000 stairs to the top floor of a beautiful old building on the city's main shopping street, I was dismayed to learn that the centre was closed due to illness. Happily, though, a couple of volunteers who were there for a meeting took pity on me and let me in, and we chatted a bit about the organization before I had to traipse back downstairs again. Although their website doesn't really make it clear, they also have an archives! One of the volunteers told me that they collect material from all over Iceland, but I didn't get a sense of how extensive the collection might be. At any rate, if you're planning a trip to Iceland--which you should totally do, because it's beautiful--check these guys out. Just make sure the place is open before you climb the stairs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It Gets Better

As a follow up to my last post on Canadian contributions to the It Gets Better Project, some more links:

If you feel overwhelmed by the quantity of material posted to the It Gets Better YouTube page, Jezebel recently posted the 15 Best It Gets Better Videos. The comments section are full of suggestions from other people as well.

And on Art Info, blogger Tyler Green has posted about Untitled (One Day This Kid...), a work of art by David Wojnarowicz. Green explains:
The New York-based Wojnarowicz made art about the right of humans to be different from each other and about what it feels like to be unlike the dominant hetero-norm.

David Wojnarowicz made art so different, so plain and so direct that it stands as an example: It’s not just activists and politicians that can impact America and American lives; artists have something to say about our world too, something that needs to be seen and heard.

Twenty years ago, Wojnarowicz made this piece, Untitled (One day this kid…). He made it as a 30 3/4-inch X 41-inch photostat, but it’s probably gained more cultural currency as a postcard available at just about every progressive bookstore in New York. This seems like a good time to post it.

So here it is:

One Day This Kid...

Green goes on to urge people to request that museums in possession of the work take it out of storage. Let's hope one day, it will be a quaint relic of the past and no longer so painfully relevant.

Crossposted to Shameless Magazine

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It Gets Better Because We Make It Better

In response to a startling number of recent suicides by gay teens, writer Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project in September. It has quickly amassed videos from queers around the world, as well as contributions from celebrities, religious figures, and even President Obama. Following up on the popularity of the project, GLAAD launched Spirit Day, setting October 20th as a day for queers and allies to show support for queer youth by wearing purple.

Canada, not to be outdone by Katie Couric and Ryan Seacrest, has gotten into the spirit of things as well. The staff of Xtra, the hosts of Vancouver's OutTV, and students at Carleton University released "It Gets Better" videos, and the on air hosts of Toronto's ProudFM showed up at work in their best purple frocks.

Worried that you missed your shot to show off your best purple sweater? This Wednesday, October 27th, Ryerson University will be hosting It Gets Better Because We Make It Better

It Gets Better Poster

Head to the atrium of the Ryerson Engineering Building at 245 Church Street from 5 to 7PM on October 27th, and join in an evening of storytelling, performance, and remembrance. And don't forget to wear purple!

Help promote the event around town. Download the event poster here [pdf]

Saturday, October 9, 2010

World's largest LGBT archives to be donated to California university

Larry Gordon of the LA Times has reported that the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, which is said to be the largest LGBT collection in the world, is being donated to the University of Southern California's library system. The collection has been housed in a University-owned facility near the Los Angeles campus for the past ten years, but has been considered an autonomous archives until now.

From the LA Times article:

"Joseph Hawkins, president of ONE’s directors, said his organization decided to give the collection to USC to ensure it a permanent home and take advantage of the university’s preservation resources. 'This protects it in a way we couldn’t protect it ourselves,' he said. His group will continue to exist to sponsor exhibits, help raise funds and find new material for the archives, he said ... Catherine Quinlan, dean of the USC Libraries, said she was delighted with the donation. 'It’s a world-class research collection,' she said, noting that it will attract scholars in such fields as sexuality, anthropology and history."

According to the ONE website, the collection includes more than 23,000 books, 11,000 films and videos, and 9,000 periodicals related to the gay liberation movement, the AIDS crisis, and other subjects that trace the history of LGBTQ lives throughout history.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vintage Blue is starting soon....

And we'll be posting on and Twitter once things get going.
See you after dark!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vintage Blue for Nuit Blanche

The night has always been a time for those outside the mainstream to communicate themselves more freely. After all, it was by the cover of night that provided many queers the opportunity to mingle, explore their sexuality and reveal their truest selves. For Nuit Blanche, the Archives has dug into its vintage collection of moving pictures to create an exhibition that examines what happens behind closed doors through a historical context.  As you engage with the work you becomes the voyeur into the CLGA’s house, taking pleasure in the desires and fantasies of others.  Consider the range of representations and effects of erotic imagery, its power as a representational form and how it has influenced our sexual desires, identities and behaviours.  

Come to "Vintage Bleu for Nuit Blanche" Saturday, October 2 from 7:00pm to 6:00am. Come see an outdoor projection at the Archives in celebration of Nuit Blanche! We'll be sharing works from our extensive moving image collection transforming our beautiful home. 
Volunteers will be on hand from 7pm -12midnight.

BBC 'Gay Rights Collection' Now Online!

Well, this is all kinds of awesome. The BBC has posted a number of clips charting the struggle for LGBT equality in Britain, and some of them date back 50 + years.

If you're more interested in the Canadian context, check out the CBC Digital Archives' special section on LGBT issues.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This Ain't Your Mama's Church Social!

With the fall season upon us, it's time to celebrate the bountiful harvest
of joy, fun, good food and good friends. Inspired by the church basement
suppers of yesteryear, the CLGA's annual Fowl Supper fundraising dinner
will be held this year at the 519 Community Centre on Saturday, October
23. The event, sponsored by TD Canada Trust, includes a full course "fowl
supper" served family style (vegetarians accommodated), a silent auction, and a cabaret show
featuring the talented cabaret troupe, "Singing Strong." This troupe, best
known for their Cabaret for a Cause shows at Buddies, always sell out
quickly so we're really pleased to be able to present them at this year's

Tickets are only $50.00 (payable by cash, cheque or VISA) and are
available by calling 416-777-2755, emailing Jenn Finan at or by purchasing directly from a CLGA volunteer.

Please note that tickets will NOT be sold at the door for this event.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lynne Fernie to teach Documentary Filmmaking Course this fall

Lynne Fernie is set to teach a course at Hart House this fall. 

Sounds like a great opportunity for emerging filmmakers.  Space is limited so you will want to check it quickly.

This class is an introduction to the concepts, processes and techniques of documentary filmmaking. The course will cover major genres and elements of the form, including the art of the interview, voice-over/narration, archival and stock footage, and styles of shooting. Screenings and discussion of seminal films will provide an overview of the historical, conventional, experimental and emerging forms of documentary practice. The course will include hands-on components in camera, lighting and sound recording techniques specific to documentary productions. Students will be encouraged to develop a short documentary from idea through research, production and post production on their own time during the course of the class. Enrollment limited to 14.Instructor Lynne Fernie is a double Genie award winning documentary filmmaker and the Senior Canadian Programmer at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival.

CLGA to Host Screenings Friday, September 17 at 7pm

The CLGA will be hosting a screening of Canadian Filmmakers whose work has been inspired by our collection on Friday, September 17 at 7pm.
Space is limited so email: to secure your seat.
See you then!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Archivists Make Great Community Partners for Social Justice

I just came across this article from the University of Manitoba about the new roles for Archivist in partnering with communities for social justice. In the article they refer to the role that archivists have played in the struggle for Aboriginal land claims and self-government.

"Contemporary archivists are becoming more aware of how their decisions shape societal knowledge. They are knowledgeable about the history and development of - as well as theoretical and practical implications for - archives and archiving. They may be as likely to use archiving and archival studies for for human rights causes and in the fight for social justice."

Also quoted in the article, Anne Lindsay says, "Archives are becoming more like partners; [for instance,] in increased dialogue with indigenous communities, building of community capacity rather than simply being a resource for specific questions."

CLGA and its Community Engagement Committee also try to be a partner to the the Queer community in the pursuit of social justice. It is so great to hear about the ways in which other archivist and archives are helping to further social justice in Canada.

Check out the full article.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Prop 8 overturned in landmark case

The CLGA and CE Committee would like to send a huge (and humbly belated) congratulations to our friends and allies in California!

On August 4, 2010, a federal judge overturned a ban on same-sex marriage in the state. Not only is this a victory for residents of the most populous state in the union, but it is also a landmark case that could eventually force the U.S. Supreme Court to confront the question of same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

The ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker establishes several legal 'facts'. As Marc Ambinder has explained in an Atlantic Weekly article, these facts can not be easily dismissed on appeal.

What queer and transgender people have known for aeons is now, evidently, legal knowledge that can be used to secure civil rights in future cases brought forth in other districts.

Judge Walker, who is now my queer ally of the year, has found that:

1. Marriage is and has been a civil matter, subject to religious intervention only when requested by the intervenors.

2. California, like every other state, doesn't require that couples wanting to marry be able to procreate.

3. Marriage as an institution has changed overtime; women were given equal status; interracial marriage was formally legalized; no-fault divorce made it easier to dissolve marriages.

4. California has eliminated marital obligations based on gender.

5. Same-sex love and intimacy "are well-documented in human history."

6. Sexual orientation is a fundamental characteristic of a human being.

7. Prop 8 proponents' "assertion that sexual orientation cannot be defined is contrary to the weight of the evidence."

8. There is no evidence that sexual orientation is chosen, nor than it can be changed.

9. California has no interest in reducing the number of gays and lesbians in its population.

10. "Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital union."

11. "Marrying a person of the opposite sex is an unrealistic option for gay and lesbian individuals."

12. "Domestic partnerships lack the social meaning associated with marriage, and marriage is widely regarded as the definitive expression of love and commitment in the United States.
The availability of domestic partnership does not provide gays and lesbians with a status equivalent to marriage because the cultural meaning of marriage and its associated benefits are intentionally withheld from same-sex couples in domestic partnerships."

13. "Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the
stability of opposite-sex marriages."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Watchin' the Detectives

Aiii! I just saw a really interesting episode of the PBS show History Detectives that features (among other things) an investigation into the identity of the author of Diana: A Strange Autobiography. If, like me, you had not heard of this title, the GLBTQ Encyclopedia describes it here. The book was published in 1939, and is notable for being one of the first to feature a politically aware queer subject who is happy (and still alive!) by the final page.

Diana is discussed in the third segment of the program, which begins around the 18:00 mark. There are some great archival photos of 1930s lesbians (though these remain sadly uncredited), in case the mystery of the author's identity wasn't enough to get you hooked.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CLGA in Pride Toronto coverage

This article was sent to us courtesy of Tourism Toronto, who came for a tour of CLGA along with American, European and Japanese members of the press (whose articles we will also post when we receive them).
It was so great to meet people from other countries who were here to celebrate Pride. It made me really appreciate the level of support and freedom that the community has in Canada, even if there is still a long way to go. It also made me proud of Pride Toronto as an event and of the organizers for finally making the right decision even if it might cause funding tensions later.

Cyndi Lauper and her blues band perform for Toronto Pride (

Out in Toronto

Everywhere--from billboards celebrating the gay lifestyle to art shows, dance, music, theatre, and bars-- Toronto embraces all things gay.

There is also a sense that the struggles to achieve gay rights have already been won here, making it easier to relax, and to be comfortably (and publicly) seen as you are and as you wish to be seen. And it must be noted that there is substantial public and private financing to make sure that Pride Week comes off successfully.

Toronto is a rational, clear-thinking place that promotes civilized behavior. And it takes its history seriously. A visit to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (, a library open to the public at 34 Isabella Street , is a must. The library--open Tuesday-Thursday and by appointment--also houses an art gallery, currently displaying portraits of gay community leaders, including councilor Kyle Rae, who, over the years, have worked to make a difference. The Archives offers evidence that the gay community has roots, and ensures that the community will be thriving in Toronto for a long time to come.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Toronto, ON, July 13, 2010 - The Canadian Lesbian + Gay Archives (CLGA) needs your help to nominate individuals who have made significant contributions to the growth of diverse, out and proud lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities in Canada.

Do you know people who have made significant contributions to your LGBT community?

Successful nominees will be inducted into CLGA's National Portrait Collection (NPC) with a new commissioned portrait. Nominations are due September 1, 2010.

For more information, visit .

The NPC is a central part of our archival holdings at the CLGA. The collection was established in 1998 with 25 original portraits, and coincided with our 25th anniversary. Since then, the collection has grown to 70 portraits of various mediums that include photography, oil and watercolour. The collection is regularly exhibited in our home in Toronto as well as at other venues across Canada, in celebration of all LGBT communities. We are committed to continuous expansion of the collection, thereby actively engaging in the creation of our own historical record.

The CLGA is the second largest LGBT archive in the world, and is a leader within the global community. The CLGA aspires to be a significant resource and catalyst for those who strive for a future world where LGBT people are accepted, valued and celebrated. For more information, visit us at .

For more information, interviews and images, please contact:
Peter Lam, CLGA National Portrait Collection Sub-Committee -

Friday, July 9, 2010

CLGA Call for Exhibition Proposals

We are looking for exhibitions to form a year of programming in our gallery to begin in 2011.
Are you an artist?
Do you work with a community group?
Are you a researcher familiar with the CLGA or another archival collection?
If your work can help the CLGA in its mandate to give public access to information and materials by and about LGBT people in Canada or helps us to fulfill our mission then we want your exhibition proposals.

The opening of the new CLGA facility on Isabella Street has provided the Archives with a new and exciting addition: an art gallery and museum space to be used for the exhibition of CLGA materials and for independent artist work that concerns the diverse history and currents of queer people and culture, particularly in relation to the Canadian experience. The gallery opened with the first of its annual exhibitions of the CLGA National Portrait Collection and will continue with an annual program of exhibitions for projects as proposed by a broad range of applicants. In addition to exhibitions of artist work, proposals may also be completed by individuals familiar with the collection and who wish to curate shows of materials from the CLGA.

To propose an exhibition, please review and complete the Gallery Exhibition Proposal. Proposals must be exhibition ready. Deadline to apply September 15, 2010.

You may also wish to refer to our Frequently Asked Questions or send contact us with further questions:

Monday, July 5, 2010

CLGA goes to Washington

Librarians have played a key role in the quest for freedom and equality for LGBT people. Professional librarian Barbara Gittings was instrumental in forcing the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality as mental disorder. She also coordinated the first gay caucus of the American Library Association (ALA) and continued to work as a political activist until her death in 2007. Today, that gay library caucus has evolved into the GLBT Round Table of the ALA. There are roughly 1,000 members of this Round Table who work to make libraries queer positive, develop collection strategies that support LGBT patrons, and develop programming for LGBT communities across the continent.

Each year the GLBTRT organizes a session about queer libraries and information professionals for the annual ALA conference. This year, the CLGA was invited to present in Washington DC on the outreach and advocacy that we undertake as part of the Community Engagement Committee. CLGA volunteer and University of Toronto iSchool doctoral student Rebecka Sheffield took up the charge and went to Washington to participate.

The Session, titled Rainbow Hollinger Boxes was organized by radical cataloguer K.R. Roberto and chaired by Houston-based UWO-educated librarian Shawn Vaillancourt. The session also included presentations by manuscripts librarian Steven Fullwood with the New York Public Libraries Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and author and historian Phillip Clark, who works with Washington’s Rainbow History Project. Rebecka’s presentation rounded out the group. Each discussed their unique collections of LGBT material and shared the difficulties and triumphs their organizations have experienced throughout the years.

For more information about the ALA, the GLBT Round Table, or to request a copy of the slides for this presentation, please contact Rebecka here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

CLGA on CP24

President of the Board, Robert Windrum and superstar archivist and Community Enagement volunteer Rebecka Sheffield will be on CP24 tonight from 9-10 as part of thier series looking back on the origins of Pride and the Queer Rights Struggle in Toronto.
There will also be some shots of our facility at 34 Isabella Street and a sneak peak at our show, CENSORED LIVES which will open tomorrow.
Tune in, you might learn something.

CLGA will be Open During Pride Weekend

The CLGA will be open for tours and viewing of our exhibitions during Pride weekend, July 3-4 from 12 noon - 5pm.
On the second floor gallery: The National Portrait Collection, which honours those who have contributed to the growth of diverse, out and proud LGBTQ communities in Canada.
On the third floor community space: CENSORED LIVES: Suppression, resistance and free speech, which includes a display of materials from our collection relating to the struggle for free speech for the queer community and features an installation piece by filmmaker William Craddock.

Monday, June 28, 2010


CLGA was invited to CIBC last week for a diversity event at their North Toronto offices.

Vice President of the Board Dennis Findlay and Office Manager Lawrence Bennett attended and and ran the booth on behalf of the Archives.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The View from George Hislop Park

I just walked through George Hislop Park and saw the Children's Aid Society tribute to Pride.

The children have mounted a show of queer positive art in the windows of their building and it made me smile.

Such a nice thing to see.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Annual General Meeting

This evening was the CLGA's Annual General Meeting.

Quoting from Martin Lanigan's President Address:
"2009 was a watershed year for the CLGA. During 2009 we completed the long anticipated renovation project of our new home at 34Isabella Street, and we completed the enormous task of moving the collection and our administrative records into our new home. I cannot possibly recount all of the tremendous challenges, sacrifices and perseverance that these tasks demanded of you [CLGA membership and volunteers]. I cannot sufficiently thank all of the people who made this happen. Leadership, commitment, passion and hard work were shown not only by board members and committee chairs, but also by countless volunteers throughout the organization. The scope and pace of activities, however, did not stop with settling into our new home. the CLGA made up for lost time - as evidenced but the fact that every committee has advanced new and important initiatives and projects in the past year. You [CLGA membership and volunteers] should all be proud of what you are accomplishing."

We reviewed the past year's activities, achievements and opportunities for new growth in the coming year.
The reports presented at this meeting along with the minutes will be available in our offices at 34 Isabella Street.

Among other things, we elected our new board for the coming year.
Our Executive Directors are:
  • Robert Windrum, President
  • Dennis Findlay, Vice-President
  • Dennis Parker, Secretary
  • Mahesh Dias, Treasurer
The rest of the Board of Directors includes:
  • Martin Lanigan
  • Mary MacDonald
  • Marc Lalonde
  • Pearse Murray
  • Elizabeth Bailey
Here is a photo ofyour new Board of Directors.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reception, Thursday, June 17

The CLGA's Board of Directors along with hosts Bill Graham and Maggie Cassella held a reception for some of our favourite donors in the gallery last night.
It was great to get to meet some of the people who help make it possible for the CLGA to do all that it does.
And there were lovely snacks!
For those who missed it, here are some pictures and a link to the "This Gay in History" series produced in partnership with Proud FM that we had on display.
Thanks so much to all in attendance.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gayby Boom - call for entries in support of film about LGBT Families

The CLGA was contacted by filmmaker Lisa Marie Evans to assist her in collecting materials for her current documentary project.

It seems like a very interesting project, as does her body of work.

If you are an LGBT parent or part of an LGBT family, might be worth checking this out.

Contact: Lisa Marie Evans
Tel: 816 590 5014
Documentary Film, Gayby Boom, Seeks Video Entries by LGBT Families
Arizona, May 3, 2010 - Parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender are invited to submit home videos to be included in a feature documentary, Gayby Boom, exploring the ever-evolving definition of family values. LGBT parents and their children of all ages are encouraged to submit. Filmmaker toolkits are available online to assist in the filming process.
"We need parents from around the globe to submit home-videos to represent the many faces and lives involved in LGBT families. In a time where it is still illegal for LGBT individuals to marry and/or adopt in the U.S. and many other countries, this is also the time to share our lives in the spirit of education and awareness for all communities," expressed filmmaker Lisa Marie Evans. "This will be a brilliant education tool for LGBT individuals seeking to bring children into their lives as they may learn from the stories and the experiences of others."
When signing the release forms, individuals are asked who referred them to submit a video. To assist in publicizing the call for videos, the organization or individual who refers the most entries will be awarded their name in the opening credits.
For more information on participation, including where to submit your video, a filmmaker toolkit, releases and press materials, visit
For a video trailer, visit:
Submission deadline: September 1, 2010

Court asked to weigh gay rights and blood policy

A very interesting article in the Globe yesterday about a court ruling expected shortly to decide if Canadian Blood Services has the right to discriminate against gay men or if this is a Charter issue.
This has been a long standing issue and doesn't often get a lot of attention, but there are a number of reason why this should be revisited.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Review of William Craddock's Film

I went to the priemere of Wil Craddock's film, Gay Rights: Politics, Activism and Canada's Gay Conservatives and it was fabulous!

I was surprised by the range in ages of those interviewed and the honesty with which he approached the subject. Also, there was a real National representation with interviews from across the country.

There were very well articulated arguments presented throughout and what sounded like a consensus that while it may not be impossible to be both gay and conservative, if you are both you will likely want to qualify the alliance along fiscal lines. Most if not all of those interviewed stipulated that they were "fiscally conservative, socially liberal."

There was intersting use of CLGA's periodical collection and facilities which was nice to see.

I did think it was odd that there were no women in the film, but perhaps Wil was saving them for the sequel.

Very well done, Wil!

You can catch this film tonight (Friday) and Tuesday. Check locations and times at

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gay Rights: Politics, Activism and Canada’s Gay Conservatives - William Craddock's Film Début

Filmmaker and CLGA volunteer, William Craddock's film début is tonight!
The film, Gay Rights: Politics, Activism and Canada’s Gay Conservatives is a documentary and Wil's process included research with the CLGA's collection.
The film starts tonight, Wednesday, June 9, doors open at 6:15 at the NFB—John Spotton Theatre150 John St, Toronto, ON (416-973-0896)....though I belive there will be another screening during the Doc Now festival which runs to June 26.
Check out their website and hope to see you there!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Catholic Bishop of Peterborough Preaches Tolerance on the Heels of Human Rights Tribunal

Interesting article on the cover of the Toronto Star today.
It seems too bad that it takes a Human Rights Tribunal to get the Catholic church onside with preaching tolerance and equality, even if they do so while still remaining exclusively "straight".

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Twenty Years of Queer Cinema

Last week's marked the twentieth anniversary of the Inside Out queer film festival. In addition to this year's crop of queer shorts, documentaries, erotica, and feature films, the festival also screened classic works, like The Celluloid Closet and past winners at Inside Out, including one of my favorites, Saving Face. See it! It stars Joan Chen!

I was happy to catch a screening of shorts, Dyke World, which included films from Bosnia, Australia, Poland, Sweden, and the United States. It was great spending an evening watching dyke shorts in a room full of fellow Toronto dykes. All that was missing was popcorn.

One film I was sorry to miss was the international premiere of the BBC's Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister. Nothing warms the heart of a queer archivist more than the existence of secret diaries, written in code, detailing the Sapphic adventures of a woman born wayyyy back in 1791. We're also suckers for the term "bodice ripper." Or maybe that's just me.

More on Anne Lister:
From History to Herstory: Yorkshire Women's Lives Online
Catalogue records for the Anne Lister papers.
The West Yorkshire Archives Service is currently hosting a special exhibit on Anne Lister to accompany the BBC 2 documentary "Revealing Anne Lister."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Inside the Lesbian and Gay Archives

blogTO has published a fantastic article about the CLGA at Doors Open. Enjoy! Inside the Lesbian and Gay Archives

Monday, May 31, 2010

Doors Open Weekend - Update

Our first year as participants in Doors Open has been an overwhelming success!
Over the two days we had an approximately 400 visitors to the house. This was a great opportunity to create greater awareness of the CLGA, what we do, and to introduce our fabulous house to the city of Toronto.

Thank you to all of our volunteers and visitors!
We look forward to doing it all again next year.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 1 Doors Open, Huge Success!

Thanks to all of our volunteers and visitors today day 1 of our first year as a Doors Open site has been a tremendous success! It has been wonderful to see such a strong interest from the community in what the CLGA does and in our fabulous new facility.
I am really looking forward to meeting more people tomorrow from 10-5.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Landscaping at 34 Isabella Street

I was at the house last night and it made me proud to see the wonderful landscaping that was just completed in front of the house.
Our volunteers did a great job. Check it out this weekend at Doors Open.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

CLGA Joins Doors Open Toronto 2010

May 29 -30, Our home at 34 Isabella Street will join over 150 buildings of architectural, historic, cultural / social significance who will open their doors to the public. Admission is FREE.

Tours of the house will be conducted at regular intervals on Saturday and Sunday from 10-5, providing a history of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives and the architectural history of the historic Italianate Style house. Information regarding the history of 34 Isabella Street and the recent renovation completed in 2009 will be discussed. Exhibition of the National Portrait Collection, honouring individuals, who have made significant contributions to the growth of diverse, out and proud lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities in Canada will also be on view. Volunteers will be on hand to answer questions.

Visit Doors Open Toronto 2010 for more information about this citywide event.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jane's Walk is back!

Jane's Walk weekend is almost upon us, and this year's offerings look better than ever. Of particular interest to queer history buffs is the aptly named, "Degenerates on Parade!: Queer Culture and Public Space" . This walk will cover some of the same ground* as last year's "Yonge Street is Flaming", and it will be led by Jane Farrow, Pat Durish and the CLGA's own Alan Miller.

Other queer or queer-esque offerings include: Church and Wellesley through the Eyes of Queer Newcomer Youth, Church and Wellesley Village Leading Change Together, and Places to Bonk On Your Lunch Hour (though I'm told this one is already full).

*Lame pun unintended

Friday, April 9, 2010

Visit from Spektrum

We recently had a visit from Spektrum, a group for queer and trans youth of colour. The group is working on a really cool multimedia project called (Re) Telling Our Stories, which should be finished and ready to exhibit by the summer. The group had a chance to see some rough footage from Jaime Woo's new video, and we showed off the National Portrait Gallery, the library, the AV room and the Reading Room. As it happened, Michelle was processing a collection from the Toronto Women of Colour Collective, and she graciously let us check out a few of the scrapbooks.
I hope all the tour participants had fun, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they produce!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Gay Rights Movement Since Stonewall

This summer, we will honor the 41st anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada. In June, we will also celebrate the courage of those who participated in the Stonewall uprising in New York, a moment most often associated with the birth of the gay civil rights movement. Yet protection for lgbt people in the United States is still patchy at best. There is no legislation at the federal level that extends basic human rights to lgbt people! It's simply appalling.

Does this make you want to rage? It makes me want to talk to more people, advocate for gay history to be recognized as an important part of our cultural landscape, and work with young people to ensure that they know what happened and what has yet to come.GGrrrrrrrrr....!

I know that I'm a bit late in posting this, but last year, on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, the New School held a conference on the Gay Rights Movement Since Stonewall.

The full video is just over an hour and posted for streaming download at

Here is a snippet from the conference available on YouTube.

And this is a passionate plea for progress on civil rights as well:

Monday, March 8, 2010

All hail the Watermelon Woman!

I just re-watched Cheryl Dunye's 1996 classic, The Watermelon Woman, and want to urge everybody who hasn't seen it to drop whatever they're doing and rent it right now. The scene in which the main character visits a lesbian archives (which also features an appearance by writer Sarah Schulman) is hilarious and not to be missed. Good thing the CLGA makes things a little easier for our researchers!
One caveat: this movie serves as a somewhat terrifying stroll down Fashion Memory Lane for those of us who may have at one point worn cut-off jean shorts, so don't say I didn't warn you.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

CLGA goes to the ALA

CE Committee member Rebecka Sheffield has been tapped to present at the annual conference of the American Library Association June 27, 2010 in Washington DC. The topic of her talk will be "There's a Gay Archives?" : Outreach and Advocacy at the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives"

Read the abstract below:
Over the past twenty years, archivists have become increasingly interested in outreach and advocacy programs that can help entice visitors to the archives and encourage support for archival activities. In particular, many community archives have developed strategies to engage with the communities they serve. By doing so, they aim to raise awareness of their role in society, bolster support for their programs, and improve access to their records of enduring value. The Community Engagement Committee of the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives (CLGA) was formed in 2008 while the institution prepared to move into its new, permanent home at 34 Isabella Street in Toronto. The Committee's mandate is to to undertake advocacy and outreach activities, as well as to develop educational programming around the archives' collections. My presentation will provide a brief overview of advocacy and outreach in archives, emphasizing connections between access to information and outreach activities. I will then provide a brief description of the work of the CLGA's outreach activities, including workshops with Gay-Straight Alliance clubs in public high schools, blog and Web site publishing, a visiting speaker series, and presentations at local conferences. Finally, I will argue that outreach and advocacy should be considered when archives evaluate their ability to provide access to the records in their holdings. After all, the best findings aids in the world will not suffice if the community doesn't even know that the archives exists.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Same Sex Marriage Rights Reach Latin America

I heard about this today during lunch and thought it was a nice good news story well worth sharing. Seems like equality is finally catching on, even in a place where religion is integrated with government, so there may be hope for the rest of the world too.

This Gay in History #3 Jane Rule

Jane Rule claimed she was a tomboy growing up and felt like an outsider for reaching six feet tall and being dyslexic. When she was 15, she read The Well of Loneliness and wrote later, "suddenly discovered that I was a freak."

Perhaps. But most consider her one of the best known Canadian authors and lesbian activist. Her most famous book, Desert of the Heart, was rejected by 22 publishers before it was finally published in 1964. The novel features a romance between two women and was adapted into a 1985 film starring Helen Shaver.

Rule was awarded the Order of Canada in 2007, shortly before her death from liver cancer. Her ashes were interred in Galiano Island Cemetery next to those of Helen Hubbard Wolfe Sonthoff, her beloved partner since 1956.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The CLGA Helps Students

Danielle Cooper is a student pursuing a collaborative Master's degree at the University of Toronto's Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies and the Faculty of Information. Danielle works with the Sexual Representation Collection (SRC) at University College which is composed of materials related to sexual representation and censorship. While there is some queer content, the SRC focuses generally on subject matter like censorship. The Collection is comprised mainly of books, videos, and magazines. Danielle sought the assistance of the CLGA volunteers to provide guidance and mentorship as she helped create a system to make available the SRC for public use. Volunteers at the CLGA worked in consultation with Danielle and offered support in achieving her research objectives. Through such cooperative efforts, resources like the SRC are being made available for public and scholarly use.

To learn more about the Sexual Representation Collection, visit the University College website at:

To learn more about how the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives can help with research, visit the CLGA at:

Monday, February 22, 2010

This Gay in History #2 Rev Brent Hawkes

This Gay in History is a collaborative project produced by Toronto's Proud FM 103.9 and the CLGA. The second in the series features Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes.

Brent Hawkes, CM (born in Bath, New Brunswick) is a Canadian clergyman. Since 1977, he has served as senior pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto for LGBT parishioners, and is one of Canada's leading gay rights activists.

Friday, February 19, 2010

This Gay in History #1

This Gay in History is a collaborative project produced by Toronto's Proud FM 103.9 and the CLGA. The first in the series features the Brunswick Four.

The Brunswick Four were four lesbians involved in a historic incident in Toronto, Ontario in 1974. The four were evicted from the Brunswick Tavern, a working-class beer hall on Bloor Street, subsequently arrested, and three were later tried in Ontario Court for obstruction of justice.

Click below to listen to the podcast. [note: the photos are for pleasant viewing purposes only. Unfortunately, this CE member could not locate a photo of the Brunswick Four].

Interview with Ann Bannon

Elizabeth and I were just talking about the CLGA's amazing collection of lesbian pulp novels from the '50s and '60s, and she told me about this NPR interview with Ann Bannon. Bannon wrote some of the best-known (and least depressing) novels in this genre: I Am a Woman, Odd Girl Out, Journey to a Woman, and a few others. Fascinating lady.

Queer Presence at Vancouver Winter Olympics

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics mark the first time there will be an official queer presence at the international sporting event. Pride Houses are open in Vancouver and Whistler as a venue available to Gay and Lesbian athletes, coaches, family, friends and allies. Pride House ambassadors are on hand to tell visitors about resources in Vancouver, immigration and more.

Also check out coverage of the Pride Houses and homophobia in sport from yesterday's CBC radio program The Current

To learn more about queer athletes, visit the CLGA.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Topical reading

What do you know, it's Black History Month *and* the Olympics are now full on. What better time to read this fascinating article about Bayard Rustin who was a black civil-rights activist with Martin Luther King in the 1960 but also an athlete and a gay rights activist.
You can find the article here:

Queer Movement at U of T

University of Toronto now offers a PhD program in Sexual Diversity Studies and there has been great push on campus to create a "Queer Positive Space." But this wasn't always the case.
This is an interesting article that charts the development of the queer movement at U of T -- from homophile association to Homo Hops.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Announcing Archivaria 68: Special Section on Queer Archives

Archivaria 68 (Journal of the Association of Canadian Archivists)features the Special Section of Queer Archives. Our fearless CE leader, Kate Zieman, is a contributor and CE member Rebecka Sheffield is the co-editor. The CLGA makes several appearances in this issue.

If you are not a member of the ACA or an institution that subscribes to the journal, you can request a single issue online here: As far as we know, this is the first time that an archives journal has produced an issue that is almost entirely LGBT content -- even the book reviews are part of our special section.

I've copied the table of contents below to pique your interest.

Archivaria #68: Special Section on Queer Archives
ISSN: 0318-6954

Special Section on Queer Archives
"Note from the Guest Editors" : Rebecka Sheffield, Marcel Barriault
"Accessing Transgender // Desiring Queer(er?) Archival Logics" : K.J. Rawson
"Resisted Access? National Security, the Access to Information Act, and Queer(ing) Archives" : Patrizia Gentile
"Police/Archives" : Steven Maynard
"The 1942 Same-sex Trials in Edmonton: On the State’s Repression of Sexual Minorities, Archives, and Human Rights in Canada" : Lyle Dick
"Hard to Dismiss: The Archival Value of Gay Male Erotica and Pornography" : Marcel Barriault
"Hidden from Historians: Preserving Lesbian Oral History in Canada" : Elise Chenier
"Love and Lubrication in the Archives, or rukus!: A Black Queer Archive for the United Kingdom" : Ajamu X, Topher Campbell, Mary Stevens

Notes and Communications
"Du placard à l’institution : l’histoire des Archives gaies du Québec (AGQ)" : Jacques Prince
"Youth Outreach Initiatives at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives" : Kate Zieman

Book Reviews

"SUSAN STRYKER, Transgender History" : Carrie Schmidt
"MARCIA M. GALLO, Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement" : Kate Zieman
"PIERRE BORHAN, Man to Man: A History of Gay Photography" : John Ibson
"IAN YOUNG, Out in Paperback: A Visual History of Gay Pulps" : Nick Nguyen
“Where is Queer?” Museums and Social Issues, vol. 3, no. 1 : Greg Bak

Exhibition Reviews
Histoire de nos vies : les gais et lesbiennes au Québec de 1648 à aujourd’hui. EXPOSITION VIRTUELLE PERMANENTE SUR LE SITE WEB DES ARCHIVES GAIES DU QUÉBEC AGQ)
Martin Gagné

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gender Testing in Sports

This fascinating article by Ariel Levy was published in the New Yorker a few months ago, but with the Olympics looming it bears reading (and talking about) again. What defines 'male' and 'female', and what are the implications of their shifting/unstable nature?

Friday, January 22, 2010

For those of you who wanted more from the "Yonge Street is Flaming" Walk.

In an effort to begin my twitter education I have been trying to follow the CLGA's feed and found a link to an article on Xtra's website "Recalling Toronto's forgotten gay bars." This is a great story, and would be of particular interest to those of you who loved the experience of the Jane's Walk, "Yonge Street is Flaming."
Some great pictures and a map showing some of the examples of bars we all know about, but at the bottom of the article is a link to get in touch and share your knowledge of bars that may have been forgotten. It is great to see this kind of collecting stories!
I know the CLGA would be glad to hear about these stories too.
If you are interested in sharing with the CLGA, you can do so by responding to this blog, contacting us on Twitter or Facebook, or by visiting our website: