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People and organizations

Raj, Rupert

  • Person
  • 1952-

Rupert Raj (1952-) is a Eurasian (East Indian and Polish) pansexual trans man who came out in 1971 in the queer community of Ottawa as a bi-sexual trans man. He provided peer-counselling, research and education for transsexual and transvestite men and women and their significant others, as well as for the medical/health communities of Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto between 1971-1990, and later, from 1999 to 2015. He founded several trans organizations: 1) Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Transsexuals (FACT) (1978-1986); 2) Metamorphosis Counselling Services (1982-1983) (which morphed into Metamorphosis Medical Research Foundation (MMRF) (1983-1988)); 3) Gender Worker-cum-Gender Consultants (1988-1990), which changed its name in 1989 to Gender Consultants, with his wife Michelle Raj-Gauthier as partner; closed in 1990), 4) the Trans Men/FTM Peer-Support Group (1999-), 5) the Thursday Night Group (2000), 6) the Trans (Health) Lobby Group (2001-), and 7) TransFormations (2003-2004). He also co-led the Gender Journeys group from 2006 to 2013. He also founded three transsexual periodicals: 1) Gender Review: the FACTual Journal (1978-1981); 2) Metamorphosis newsletter-cum-Metamorphosis Magazine (1982-1988); and 3) Gender NetWorker (2 issues, 1988). Rupert worked at Sherbourne Health Centre in Toronto from 2002 to 2015 as a psychotherapist and gender consultant in its LGBT Program, and also had a part-time private practice (RR Consulting).

In the first newsletter for FACT, Nick Ghosh writes that he was born in Ottawa in 1952, the second oldest of five siblings, and was raised Roman Catholic but subsequently became atheist. He lists a number of jobs he has held, including: landscaper, hotel clerk, encyclopedia salesman, medical research assistant, security officer, librarian, caterer, cab-driver. He graduated with a BA in Psychology in 1975, and an MA in Counseling Psychology in 2001. Raj’s given surname was Ghosh. He changed his name first to Nicholas and then changed both names to Rupert Raj. The name "Rupert was inspired by his childhood teddy, Rupert the Bear. Raj chose a new surname because he sought a “measure of protective anonymity” when he went “high profile” in the course of his trans advocacy. He chose "Raj" (East Indian king) to reflect his South Asian ethnic heritage.

He had male chest-construction surgery in Yonkers, NY in 1972, a pan-hysterectomy in Calgary in 1978 and a metoidioplasty ("bottom" surgery) in Montreal in 2012. In May of 1988, Raj closed out Metamorphosis due to “two years of chronic burn out”; the magazine also ended at this time. In July 1990, Raj phased out Gender Consultants due to “personal and professional” reasons.

In January 1978, while living in Calgary, Raj founded F.A.C.T: the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Transsexuals (F.A.C.T) as a lobbying and educational organization on behalf of trans people, with Raj as founding Director, Kyle J. Spooner as Associate Director, and Chris E. Black as Secretary Treasurer. On July 1, 1979, Raj moved the organization’s “head office” from Calgary to Toronto, while various colleagues participated from Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, Kitchener and London, ON. As of April 1980, F.A.C.T. was under the management of Susan Huxford and the HQ moved to Rexdale, ON, while Raj remained involved in various capacities, including editor of Gender Review (until December 1981). (At some point between 1981 and 1986, Huxford changed the name of the organization to the Federation of American and Canadian Transsexuals (F.A.C.T.). Raj was the Toronto Liaison Officer for F.A.C.T from 1985-1987, while running the Metamorphosis Medical Research Foundation (M.M.R.F.). After Raj moved to Toronto and began his publication Metamorphosis (in February 1982), he relinquished his role in publishing Gender Review.

Metamorphosis was founded by Raj in February 1982 as a bi-monthly newsletter "Exclusively for F-M men” (with an intended readership among their families, wives/girlfriends, as well as professionals and “para-professionals interested in female TSism”); the newsletter presents a more specific focus than FACT’s broader activist mandate. By the third issue, the newsletter averaged around 8 pages, whereas in 1986, most issues were 24 pages. The last issue was in 1988.

Gender Worker was a counselling/consulting service for transsexuals and transvestites and their partners and family members founded by Raj in 1988 (and soon after renamed "Gender Consultants" to include his then new wife, a trans woman named "Marg" [a pseudonym] Gauthier, as a co-consultant). (Rupert joined their surnames, becoming "Raj-Gauthier," until they split in late 1997). The two issues of the Gender NetWorker newsletter appeared in June-July 1988 and August-September 1988. This publication was directed specifically towards “helping professionals and resource providers.” Raj wrote that he wanted to facilitate a communication network between professional (mostly cisgender [non-trans]) and lay (transsexual/transvestite/transgender) providers, to bring together trans people and the medical and health professionals who worked with trans populations. Some decades later, Rupert became a (mental health) professional himself, and also a published author. He (co-)wrote five trans-focussed clinical research papers for scholarly journals (and elsewhere) and six trans-themed book chapters, and (co-)edited two book anthologies: Trans Activism in Canada: A Reader (with Dan Irving, PhD) (Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2014), and Of Souls & Roles, Of Sex & Gender: A Treasury of Transsexual, Transgenderist & Transvestic Verse from 1967 to 1991 (unpublished manuscript, 2017, revised 2018) (free PDF accessible online via the Transgender Archives and the Digital Transgender Archive websites). In August 2017, he self-published the first edition of his memoir (Dancing The Dialectic: True Tales of A Transgender Trailblazer) through Amazon. The second (revised) edition is due in early 2020 through Transgender Publishing (www.transgenderpublishing.ca).

Nancy Nicol

Nancy Nicol (Professor Emeritus, School of Media, Arts and Performance, York University) is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work is grounded in the tradition of artist as activist, probing issues of human rights, social justice and struggles for social change. Nicol’s research, writing and creative projects include video art and documentary as well as critical writing in LGBTIQ+ human rights and social movements in Canada and internationally. Nicol’s works are screened widely in national and international festivals, human rights conferences and community-based organizations. From 2011 to 2016, Nicol led a large international research and participatory documentary project: Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights, funded by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada SSHRC. A partnership of mutual learning the project brought together 31 community-based partners based in Canada, Africa, the Caribbean and India. Employing participatory documentary, participatory action research and legal research and analysis, Envisioning researched, documented and analyzed criminalization and human rights violations, contemporary movements to resist to criminalization and advance LGBTIQ+ liberation and rights in the Commonwealth, as well as issues faced by LGBTIQ asylum seekers in Canada.
Between 1979 and 2010 Nicol created over 30 films; and from 2011 to 2016, she produced and directed and/or contributed to an additional 60 feature-length documentaries and video shorts as part of the Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights project. Recent documentaries include: Sangini (2016, directed by Nicol, Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights in partnership with Sangini, a shelter for LBT people in Delhi); And Still We Rise, (2015, directed by Lusimbo and Nicol, Sexual Minorities Uganda and Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights), a moving documentary on resistance to the Anti-Homosexual Act (AHA) in Uganda; No Easy Walk To Freedom (2014, directed by Nicol in partnership with Naz Foundation India Trust, Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights) on the struggle to decriminalize ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ in India; The Time Has Come / Ha Llegado El Momento / Le Moment Est Arrivé (2013, produced by Nicol, Vance, Fisher, Kara; directed by Vance, Fisher and Kara, ARC International and Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights) features LGBT human rights defenders from around the world on ways to strengthen protections under the historic United Nations resolution that recognized sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds for discrimination in 2011; and Telling Our Stories: 36 video portraits created by Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights partners in the Caribbean, Africa and India, edited by Nicol and Siirala; premiered at Imagining Home: Resistance, Migration, Contradiction, curated by Karen Stansworth, Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, June - October 2014.
Nancy Nicol is a frequent contributor to international conferences in the areas of LGBT human rights, social movements, and art and activism. Nicol’s recent scholarly publications include: forthcoming (2017) book: Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights: (Neo)colonialism, Neoliberalism, Resistance and Hope, Nicol, Jjuuko, Lusimbo, Mulé, Ursel, Wahab and Waugh, (eds.) University of London, UK; “Envisioning LGBT Refugee Rights in Canada: Is Canada A Safe Haven?” (2015) a research report written by Gamble, Mulé, Nicol, Waugh, Jordan, and Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants; “Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights: Strategic alliances to advance knowledge and social change”, (2014) by Nicol, Gates-Gasse and Mulé, Scholarly and Research Communication, Special Issue: Community-Based Participatory Research, Vol. 5, No 3; “Sexual Rights and the LGBTI movement in Botswana”, (2013) by Monica Tabengwa and Nancy Nicol, in: Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change, Corinne Lennox and Matthew Waites (eds.) London: Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, London, UK. Earlier publications include: “Politics of the Heart: recognition of homoparental families”, (2009) in Who’s Your Daddy? And Other Writings on Queer Parenting, ed. Rachel Epstein, Sumac Press; “Legal Struggles and Political Resistance: Same-Sex Marriage in Canada and the U.S” co-written by Miriam Smith and Nancy Nicol, Sexualities Vol 11, Issue 6 (Sage Publications, December 2008, pp.667-687); and “Politics of the Heart: recognition of homoparental families”, (2008) Florida Philosophical Review: Journal of the Florida Philosophical Association, Vol 8, issue 1 (University of Central Florida Department of Philosophy.
Other documentaries on queer histories by Nicol include: Dykes Planning Tykes: Queering the Family Tree (2011, directed by Nancy Nicol and M. J. Daniel) on the groundbreaking family planning course for lesbians and queer identified women in Toronto; and One Summer in New Paltz: A Cautionary Tale (2008), on the civil disobedience same-sex marriage movement in the USA. In 2009, Nicol completed her award-winning series From Criminality to Equality on the history of lesbian and gay rights organizing in Canada from 1969 to 2009 which includes the films Stand Together (124 min. 2002), The Queer Nineties (90 min. 2009), Politics of the Heart (68 min. 2005) and The End of Second Class (90 min. 2006). Her work on lesbian and gay history also includes a number of shorts: Pride and Resistance, and Proud Lives. This body of work has received a number of honours including: short-listed for the Derek Oyston CHE Film Prize, 23rd London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, London, UK; Elle Flanders Award for Best Documentary, Inside Out, Toronto, 2007 and 2006; Honourable Mention for Best Canadian Female Director in the shorts category, Inside Out, 2007; the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary, Image + Nation, Montréal, 2006; the Audience Choice Award, Making Scenes, Ottawa, 2002 and the John Bailey Completion Award, Inside Out, 2002. Nicol’s films, including earlier works from the 1980s, are available at Vtape.

Mirha- Soleil Ross

  • Person

Mirha-Soleil Ross is a transsexual artist, activist, and sex worker best known for her video and performance art, and her role as editor of the zine GenderTrash from Hell.
Ross was born in and spent her childhood in a working class francophone neighborhood of Montréal. In the late eighties, she attended Université du Québec à Montréal for theatre studies, and began working in the sex industry under the names Jeanne B and Janou. She began documenting her experiences in sex work with video diaries at this time, and it is from this period that her first extant film, “Adventures in Tucking with Jeanne B,” originates.
Ross moved to Toronto in the early nineties, by which time she was living and working openly as a transsexual woman. Before long, Ross and her partner Xanthra Phillipa MacKay began a period of intense activism and artistic output motivated by their experiences as trans women. This included the publication of four issues of GenderTrash From Hell -- a fiercely political zine that championed the rights of multiply marginalized groups like trans sex workers and trans prisoners and often included explicitly sexual creative work submitted by trans people -- as well as the documentary film “Gender Troublemakers.” Through the latter part of the nineties, Ross continued her work in film and performance, often in collaboration with her partner Mark Karbusicky. With support from Karbusicky and Mackay, Ross produced the first Counting Past Two film festival in 1997 in order to feature films and other creative work by transsexual and transgendered people.
In 1997 Ross also founded and served as the first coordinator for MEAL-TRANS at the 519 Community Centre, a “social services program for low income and street-active transsexual and transgendered people” which included a weekly drop-in vegan meal (Vegan Voice 10). While all of her creative work generally addresses some aspects of trans experience, some of her films also serve a more clearly educational goal, such as “Madame Lauraine's Transsexual Touch” (2001) -- a sexually explicit film produced in collaboration with Viviane Namaste and Monica Forrester in order to educate the clients of trans sex workers on safer sex practices.
As longtime vegan, Ross’s dedication to animal rights influences the entirety of her oeuvre, but is particularly visible in films such as “G-SPrOuT” (2000), the film/performance piece “Yapping Out Loud” (2002) and her work hosting the “Animal Voices” radio program on CIUT 89.5. When Ross was given the position of Grand Marshall in the 2002 Toronto Pride Parade, she used the opportunity to celebrate the previous 20 years of actions by the Animal Liberation Front (Vegan Voice 10), as documented in her film “Proud Lives.”
Ross returned to the Montreal, Quebec, area in 2008, where she continues to reside.

McMaster Homophile Association

  • Corporate body
  • 1973- 1977

The McMaster Homophile Association (MHA), referred to in some documents as the Hamilton-McMaster Homophile Association and the Hamilton-McMaster Gay Liberation Movement, was a student group based at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The MHA was established in 1973 following a campus visit by George Hislop the previous year. The McMaster Homophile Association maintained a library, published a newsletter, hosted speakers, operated a crisis phone line, and organized dances and other events. The MHA was associated with (and its membership overlapped with) the Congeniality Social Club of Hamilton, a disco that also put on shows with go-go boys and drag performers. In September 1977, Dr. Shane S. Que Hee resigned from his position as Secretary/Treasurer of the McMaster Homophile Association, and the group subsequently disbanded.

Khush: South Asian Gay Men of Toronto

  • Corporate body
  • 1987- present

Khush: South Asian Gay Men of Toronto was founded in 1987. The group was first named South Asian Gay Association (SAGA) and was changed to Khush as they extended their membership to include both men and women. In 1989, Khush founded ‘Khush Khayal’, the first South Asian gay newsletter in Canada that was distributed nationally and internationally. They also produced a monthly community calendar of events called ‘Chhota Khayal’ that ran until 1993 and ‘Avec Pyar’, a quarterly zine, in 1996. Khush was a founding member of the South Asian Inter-agency Network which is now the Coalition of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), an advocacy group aimed at improving social services for South Asians in Toronto. Khush also founded the South Asian AIDS Coalition (Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention) which was the first initiative in Canada to address HIV/AIDS issues in South Asian communities. In 1993, Khush founded ‘Ahimsa’ – South Asian Men Against Violence (against women and children) in collaboration with the Coalition of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA). The organization ran a variety of queer South Asian community events such as ‘Salaam! Toronto’, a programme that celebrated diasporic South Asian gay and lesbian cultures and identities in 1989, ‘Desh Pardesh’, an annual festival that highlighted the art, culture, and politics of diasporic South Asians in the West which first began in 1990, and ‘Discovery ‘93’, the first International South Asian Gay Men’s Conference. In 1997, Khush changed its subtitle to ‘Queer South Asians’ to be more inclusive of all sexualities and reflect its diverse membership. (See Appendix A in Finding Aid for history of Khush)

Kathleen Brindley

  • Person
  • 1942- 2007

Kathleen Brindley was born in 1942 in Gary, Indiana, U.S. She worked in advertising in Indianapolis through the 1960s. In 1970, Brindley emigrated to Ontario, where she remained for the rest of her life, living in several towns until eventually settling in Toronto. Brindley was very involved in Toronto’s queer community from the 1970s until her death, appearing on a 1972 CBC special, All About Women, that was censored before it could air, in part because of its discussion of homosexuality. She was a passionate grassroots activist with an interest in queer visibility, anti-racism movements, and community-based harm reduction work. She was also an artist who frequently exhibited in Toronto’s first commercial queer art gallery, the O’Connor, as well as operating her own gallery, Artcetera. Brindley was an avid biker and belonged to the Amazons, an all-female motorcycle club.

James Egan

  • Person
  • 1982- 2000

For a complete biographical sketch see Challenging the Conspiracy of Silence: My Life as a Canadian Gay Activist by Jim Egan ed. Don McLeod, where this summary draws from. Additionally, Jim Egan: Canada's pioneer gay activist, writings of Jim Egan compiled and introduced by Robert Champagne

James Leo Egan was born in Toronto September 14, 1921 on St. George Street to Nellie (Josephine) Engle and James Egan, completing the family was Charles Egan, who was 14 months younger than James and also gay. Egan did not complete high school, instead worked on family farms around Peterborough. His army application was rejected in 1939 due to a corneal scar from a piece of glass he got in a car crash, and his choice to not have it removed by doctors which would have made him eligible. Instead he worked as a technician in the Department of Zoology at the University of Toronto. Other zoology and medicine assistant jobs followed. In 1943 Egan joined the Merchant Navy as a seaman, a stint that lasted until 1947.

Egan met John “Jack” Nesbit in the summer of 1948, around this time Egan came out to his mother (his father died when he was thirteen). She had no issue with his sexuality, treating Nesbit as another son. Egan moved into Nesbit’s apartment at 164 Cumberland Street within weeks of meeting. While living there Nesbit took a hairstyling course, and then managed his own business. Egan was offered a job from someone he had met at U of T to assist with a biological specimens business. The couple moved to Oak Ridges (Richmond Hill), into the house that came with this job.

Between 1949 and 1951 Egan wrote letters to Coronet, Ladies Home Journal, Esquire, Parents’ Magazine, Redbook, Time and others protesting their homophobic language. These letters were not published. Egan’s first published letter in the mainstream press argued that Kinsey was bringing sex into the modern age (The Globe and Mail, May 16, 1950). He was first published in the tabloids in Flash in May 1950, then in October 1950 another letter appeared in True News Times, and then in December 1950 Egan’s article “I am a Homosexual” was published in Sir! under his pseudonym, Leo Engle.

In November 1951 Egan reached out to the True News Times (TNT) suggesting an article series concerning homosexuality. “Aspects of Homosexuality” was published from November 19, 1951, for seven weeks. In 1952 after writing for TNT Egan took a hiatus, writing little.

In May 1951, Justice Weekly published several letters by J.L.E.. Egan then proposed a series similar to TNT, writing “Homosexual Concepts” between December 1953 and February 1954. Another untitled series of 15 columns followed until June 1954.

From 1954-1959 Egan was on hiatus from his activist work, suffering the effects of inhaling formaldehyde from specimen preservation. The couple sold their house in Oak Ridges and moved to a working 200 acre farm in Northwestern Ontario, near Chesley in 1954. To supplement earnings Egan started embalming cats for an American company, while Nesbit managed a hair salon in Chesley. Egan’s mother lived with them on the farm.

By mid-1956 they were not making money with the farm and Jack was unhappy. They moved to Beamsville and rented a store that used to be a pet shop, which they reinvigorated. They also started a seed supply business, and continued their specimen and embalming business. They dubbed it “The Nature Shop” and were known as “The Nature Boys” by locals.

They moved back to Toronto in 1964 and rented 1052A Bloor Street West. Early in the year Nesbit and Egan’s relationship ended when Nesbit gave Egan an ultimatum, either Egan give up gay activism or their relationship. Nesbit did not like the level of notoriety associated with activism and had a different view of activism altogether. During this period Egan was often arguing on the phone with local newspaper editors, and people were calling looking for a crisis line. They could not resolve Nesbit’s ultimatum so Egan moved into a one room apartment near Spadina and College, starting another specimen business.

In the first half of 1964 Egan was unhappily separated, disenchanted with being an activist, the lack of community support and their passive attitude towards gay liberation. Nesbit was also unhappy, his sister was angry at him for ending the relationship after 15 years and wanted the couple to get back together.

In May 1964 Egan reconciled with Nesbit commiting to end his activism. Nesbit wanted to leave Toronto believing Egan would return to it if they did not. They decided on British Columbia. In June they drove across Canada with their three chihuahuas, settling in Duncan and establishing the Jamack Biological Supply Company. They specialized in marine specimens, and their business thrived. Egan became involved in the environmental movement, joining the Society for the Prevention of Environmental Collapse (SPEC), becoming vice-president of the Cowichan Valley branch.

They moved to Thetis Island on Telegraph Harbour in 1968, where they built a lab and continued their business. In 1972 due to health issues and the manual labour required for their work, they gave it up and retired to Chemainus British Columbia. Egan engaged in environmental work and Nesbit with his gardens.

In 1974 they moved to Meriville, and built a two-thousand square foot stackwall house out of driftwood. Nesbit volunteered on the phone lines at Crossroads Crisis Centre and later was a marriage counsellor. Egan was a freelance carpenter and continued his environmental activism. In 1980 Egan became a member of Save Our Straits Committee, a group blocking a local sewage plant from pumping untreated sewage into the Strait of Georgia. The BC Ministry of the Environment granted a permit for this plant, but the Committee eventually convinced the Ministry to treat the sewage and the permit was overturned. Egan’s environmental work made him a celebrity and in 1981 he was elected as regional director for Electoral Area B of the Regional District of Comox-Strathcona, making him the first gay man living in an openly gay relationship to be elected to public office in Canada. He was re-elected twice but decided not to stand for re-election in 1993 at age seventy-two.

In May 1985 the couple moved to Courtenay where they met members of the LGBTQ+ community. They had had no significant contact with the LGBTQ+ community from 1964-1985. Egan kept his promise to Nesbit, disengaging in gay activism for 25 years, with the exception of some letters in 1973 to the Daily Colonist (Victoria). By 1985 Nesbit’s attitude to gay liberation had changed, and they started the Comox Valley branch of the Island Gay Society, holding monthly drop-ins at their house for eleven years. Egan was also involved in the North Island AIDS Coalition and was president in 1994.

When Nesbit was denied spousal pension benefits in 1987, their path towards their Supreme Court challenge began. They used the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to challenge the discrimination against pension benefits for same-sex couples under the Old Age Security Act. Their challenge was the first involving same-sex rights heard by the Supreme Court under the Charter with the goal to fight institutional discrimination and homophobia.

They wanted to force a high court to interpret section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and prohibit discrimination due to sexual orientation, giving homosexual couples the legal right to be recognized as “spouse” and therefore be protected from discrimination in all areas of federal legislation. Additionally, arguing that the definition of “spouse” in the Old Age Security Act was unconstitutional, and discriminatory towards gender and sexual orientation, contrary to section 15(1) of the Charter. The couple hired David Vickers of Vickers and Palmer who applied for their case to be sponsored by the Court Challenges Program which was funded by the federal government to support litigation costs in test cases based in equality rights under the Charter. They received funding and brought an action in the Trial Division of the Federal Court of Canada in December 1988.

The case was heard on May 28-29, 1991. On December 2, 1991 Justice Martin dismissed the action, ruling that even though “the Old Age Security Act did not define same-sex partners as spouses, it did not discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. Martin stated that same-sex couples “did not fall within the meaning of the word ‘spouse’ any more than heterosexual couples who live together and do not publicly represent themselves as man and wife, such as brother and sister, brother and brother, sister and sister, two relatives, two friends, or parent and child.” Martin concluded that Egan and Nesbit were not the sort of couple Parliament had in mind when the Act was passed in 1975, that “...the relationship is a different one than a spousal relationship and that the parties to such relationship cannot expect to share the benefits accorded to those in spousal relationship, not because of their sexual orientation, but because their relationship is not a spousal one.” (McLeod, 100-101).

Egan and Nesbit appealed this ruling in August 1992 with their new lawyer Joseph Arvay of Arvay, Finlay and Associates, who agreed to represent them pro bono when The Court Challenges Program was cancelled by the Mulroney government. They lost again in April 1993 when the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the judgement 2-1 that there had been no discrimination due to sexual orientation.

In 1992 they appealed to the Supreme Court with the re-instated Court Challenges Program, and were heard in November 1994. On May 25, 1995 the appeal was dismissed in a 5-4 decision. “Despite the court agreeing 5-4 that the current spousal definition was discriminatory, which was the first time the Supreme Court ruled that the failure of federal legislation to recognize same-sex relationships [was] discriminatory” (McLeod, 102). All nine justices also stated that “sexual orientation” must be classed in the Charter as discriminatory, to match existing grounds such as race, gender, and religion. However, the “Court also ruled 5-4 that the discrimination was justified under section 1 of the Charter. Four justices ruled that section 15 does not extend to same-sex relationships.” (102)

The aftermath of the ruling was captured in David Adkin’s documentary “Jim Loves Jack: The James Egan Story.” Nesbit suffered three stress-induced angina attacks. Despite the disappointment there was a positive outcome. EGALE noted the ruling meant that sexual orientation qualified as discrimination under the law, subjecting all Canadian statutes where same-sex relationships are classed as inferior to be subject to challenge.

In 1995 and 1996 their story was told by the media across the country. Jim was given a national human rights award by the Lambda Foundation for Excellence, and the couple were grand marshals at Toronto and Vancouver Pride in 1995. In September of 1997 for his community service Egan was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship, the highest award given by Rotary International.

The couple celebrated their 50th anniversary in August 1998.

Egan gave interviews and attended conferences until near the end of his life. Egan died on March 9th, 2000 of lung cancer at age 78 in Courtenay and Nesbit three months later on June 23rd four days before his 73rd birthday.

Gays for Equality

  • Corporate body
  • 1973- 1988

Gays For Equality (GFE) was established in 1973 as a student group at the University of Manitoba to provide information and counseling to gay men and lesbians, and to engage in public education on homosexuality to reduce prejudice and fear. Founding members included William (Bill) Lewis. Long term active members included Chris Vogel and Richard North. Early activities included a phone counseling service and small lending library. Originally intended to serve students, GFE soon became a vital resource for the greater gay and lesbian community of Winnipeg, working collaboratively with other gay and lesbian organizations, sponsoring and supporting community projects and efforts, and finding ways to educate and engage the wider public on gay and lesbian topics. In 1983 the GFE office moved from the University of Manitoba campus to the Winnipeg Gay Community Centre, forming the nucleus of what would become known as the Gay Resource Centre, which provided meeting space for community members and special-interest groups. During this time GFE and the wider community engaged in important political work and activism, campaigning for inclusion of Sexual Diversity in the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. In July of 1988, due to the dissolution of the Winnipeg Gay Community Centre, attributed to changes within the lesbian and gay community, the Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre was officially established as an independent entity. The former GFE Counselling Unit was amalgamated into the Gay/Lesbian Info Line. The accumulated reference and research collection, together with the library founded by GFE and later managed by The Council on Homosexuality and Religion, were combined as the Resource Centre Library. In 1999 The Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre once again evolved, becoming the Rainbow Resource Centre with an expanded mission to serve Manitoba’s gay, lesbian, transgender, two-spirit and bisexual communities

Gays and Lesbians at the University of Toronto

  • Corporate body
  • (1976-present)

Established in 1976, Gays at the University of Toronto (the name was later changed to Gays and Lesbians at the University of Toronto) succeeded the U of T Homophile Association. They were recognized by the University in 1979, and sponsored and partially funded by the Students Administrative Council. They held their first weekly meetings at Hart House, but they outgrew that space and later moved to the International Student Centre.

Their initial aims included providing a sense of community on campus, encouraging gay students to come out, promoting discussions of issues relevant to the gay community, and sponsoring community events.

GLAUT organized talks, lectures and social events, including the Homo Hop, and provided a welcoming and supportive space for students. Members organized the University’s first Gay Awareness Week, and worked to combat discrimination and raise awareness. GLAUT was later replaced by Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Trans People of the U of T (LGBTOUT).

Gays and Lesbians Against the Right Everywhere (GLARE)

Gays and Lesbians Against the Right Everywhere (G.L.A.R.E.), a group of gay men and feminist lesbians in the early to mid 1980s organizing and participating in efforts for gay and lesbian rights, most materials and events relate to fighting the right-wing group “Positive Parents of Ontario”.

John Grube

  • Person
  • 1930- 2008

John Grube (1930-2008) was a writer, activist, and academic who taught English at the University of Windsor for a brief time and then creative writing at the Ontario College of Art and Design for over twenty years. According to friend James Dubro, Grube was perhaps best known within the Toronto queer scene as one of the members of gay art collective JAC — along with Alex Liros and Clarence Barnes — which documented gay events, demonstrations and early Pride marches in Toronto in the 1980s. In the wake of the 1981 bathhouse raids, Grube become outspoken as a gay activist, publishing (for example) the essay "No More Shit," which dealt with the troubled relationship between gay men and the police force. Grube wrote frequently on a range of issues from a left perspective, and published two books: the 1997 short fiction collection I'm Supposed to Be Crazy and Other Stories and the 2002 book of poetry God, Sex and Poetry. The Foolscap project, directed by John Grube, began in 1980. Grube and Lionel Collier, an undergraduate student at the time, both collected a great number of interviews with local gay men in Toronto. These interviews were intended to document the formation of gay social spaces in the city, in addition to the personal histories of the gay men interviewed. Most of these interviews were conducted within the 1980s, although an interview with Lionel Collier conducted in 1997 is included in the fonds.

The Family Camera Network

  • Corporate body
  • 2016- 2019

The Family Camera Network was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada funded project from 2016-2019, that worked to develop a collection of family photographs with their accompanying stories, through conducting oral histories with national and trans-national migrants. The work was conducted out of partnering institutions, The ArQuives and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). The ArQuives iteration of the project focused on LGBTQ+ migrants. The project explored the relationship between photography and the idea of family, whether biological family, or of choice. As well as demonstrating the expanding conceptualization of what family is in Canada, due to same-sex marriage, transnational adoptions, dislocations to pursue economic opportunities or prompted by political instability, climate change, or war. The project worked to document feeling about family, how family is defined and defined differently, how connections are felt through photography.

Egale Canada

  • Corporate body
  • (1986- present)

Egale Canada was founded in 1986 by political lobbyist, Les McAfee. Formerly referred to as, Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere, Egale’s initial mission centered around lobbying the Canadian Federal Government to extend prohibited grounds of discrimination to include sexual orientation under section 3 (1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. During its early years, the organization consisted of a small group of members based out of Ottawa. Over time, Egale’s main office relocated to Toronto, and its mandate moved beyond its initial focus on the Canadian Human Rights Act, extending to include public education, advocacy, litigation and expert consultations on various LGBTQ+ issues. Egale’s mission is to work towards a Canada free of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and all other forms of discrimination.
In 1991, Les McAfee passed away as a result of an AIDS-related illness. Soon after, Egale underwent a consultative process to rebuild and restructure the organization. By 1993, bylaws were adopted by the organization's members. In 1995, Egale was incorporated as a federal not-for-profit organization and hired an Executive Director. Its Executive Directors have included: John Fisher, Gilles Marchildon, Kaj Hasselriis and Helen Kennedy. The organization elects its Board of Directors from 6 regions in Canada including: British Columbia & the Yukon, the Prairies, Northwest Territories & Nunavut, the National Capital Region, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. In 2001, Egale members voted in favour of changing the organization's name to Egale Canada, to to expand and reflect a more inclusive mandate. As of 2018, Egale had 3,300 members from across Canada.
Egale’s efforts to extend equal rights and protections to LGBTQ+ Canadians, has manifested through political advocacy, legal interventions, public education and research. On a political front, Egale has been involved in the legislative process through providing submissions and testimony to various Federal Parliamentary Committees. These efforts have dealt with a variety of issues, including immigration, spousal benefits, hate crimes, hate propaganda, solicitation laws, marriage equality and the Canadian Human Rights Act. In addition, the organization has also made lobbying material and guides available to its members, through programs such as the Adopt an MP Program, its postcard and letter writing campaigns.
In 2003, Egale played an instrumental role in the formation of the Canadians for Equal Marriage campaign. CEM was as a multi-partisan national advocacy campaign organized to ensure the passage of federal legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. Although the campaign was legally and structurally independent from Egale, a cooperative agreement was made between the two organizations that stipulated that, with the legalization of same-sex marriage, CEM would disband and Egale would be entitled to its assets.
On a legal front, Egale has acted as an intervenor in a number of landmark cases that have gone before the lower courts and the Supreme Court of Canada. Interventions have included cases dealing with extradition, spousal benefits, the freedom of expression and religion, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, same-sex marriage challenges and more. These cases include, but are not limited to: Egan v. Canada, Mossop v. Canada, Vriend v. Alberta, M v. H, Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium v. Canada Customs, Chamberlain v. Surrey School Board, British Columbia Marriage Challenge and the British Columbia College of Teachers v. Trinity Western University.
The organization’s research efforts have included the preparation and release of briefs, fact sheets, and discussion papers on a number of legal, social and political issues. Consultations and surveys were also conducted by Egale to identify and assess the needs of LGBTQ+ Canadians. In 2003, Egale published Outlaws & Inlaws - Your Guide to LGBT rights, same-sex relationships and Canadian law, which was managed under Egale’s companion charitable organization, the Egale Canada Human Rights Trust. This Infokit provided information regarding the extension of benefits to same sex partners, as a result of legislative changes in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Outlaws & Inlaws included information on employment benefits, taxation, pension coverage, employment law and health insurance.
In addition to its legal and political work, Egale has coordinated and organized various workshops and conferences. In 2003, Egale organized the national conference Rainbow Visions which hosted in Montreal. Attendees from across the country came together to discuss LGBTQ+ issues. Egale has had representatives attend and address the plenary session of the the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993. The organization also sent representatives to the UN World Conference Against Racism and the 2000 UN Conference on Women. Egale was accredited as an Official Partner for the Canada Committee for the International Year of the Family Conference.

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