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Chronology from Flaunting It! 1964-1982 / Intro page / Appx 1,300 words

This page:
Flaunting It! cover

Victories and defeats
A gay and lesbian chronology, 1964-1982

From Flaunting It!
A decade of gay journalism from The Body Politic


This page leads to a chronology first published in 1982, in The Body Politic's anthology, Flaunting It!. It includes more than 320 entries, tracking events from 1964 to June 15, 1982. More than 200 of those entries cover only the last five years -- very eventful ones -- beginning in mid-1977.

Context: 1982

For more than a decade, "Victories and defeats" remained the only concise record of a crucial period in Canadian gay and lesbian history. But no chronology is simply a record of history. Each one is a historical document in itself, shaped not only by its own moment in time but by the perspective of its producers and -- perhaps most crucially -- by the sources of information they can find.

As the acknowledgements in Flaunting It! note, this one was based largely on "preliminary indexing of news pages in The Body Politic," done by James Fraser, Dana Rice, and Michael Pearl. Published from late 1971 to early 1987, TBP was the closest thing Canada has ever had to a gay and lesbian "newspaper of record."

But that record was inevitably partial in both senses of the word: incomplete, and biased. The most commonly criticized bias at the time, visibly apparent in this chronology, went by the name of "Torontocentricity." People at TBP were often among those critics. But news from -- or, rather, in -- the most active and best- organized gay community in what was (after the census of 1976) the largest city in the country often, justifiably, took the lead.

The introduction to "Victories and defeats" in Flaunting It! also noted another bias:

"Certain threads of related events persist throughout this chronology, themes given priority by movement strategists and themes forced into prominence by religious or state opposition to demands for full emancipation by homosexuals. Among these themes: gay and lesbian visibility, the importance of organizing, the growth of a strong lesbian and gay community, the public struggle for gay civil rights, access to public services and to the mass media, law reform, right-wing reaction and police repression, gay resistance."

In particular, discrimination and the struggle for legal protection against it infuses this record -- though becoming, as Ed Jackson and Stan Persky wrote at the time, "increasingly half-hearted in the Eighties as more immediate issues loomed."

In Flaunting It! this chronology appeared just after Brian Waite's "A strategy for gay liberation" -- setting in early 1972 what would become the dominant agenda of the Canadian movement: demands for inclusion of the term "sexual orientation" as a prohibited ground of discrimination in human rights codes.

It was followed by Michael Lynch's July 1979 essay "The end of the 'human rights decade'" -- saying "we need another strategy now" and suggesting a likely candidate: "containment of totalitarian power, particularly that of the police." That shift of focus -- fueled by police raids -- was abundantly clear by 1982: you're likely to find the phrase "common bawdyhouse" in this record nearly as often as "sexual orientation."

But the Eighties and beyond also saw the culmination of human rights efforts: in time sexual orientation was enshrined in most provincial human rights codes, Ontario's in December 1986. By then even the Conservative federal government had admitted it was obliged, under the new Charter of Rights, to offer the same protection -- though it would take until 1996 for the Canadian Human Rights Act to be amended accordingly.

Among the "more immediate issues" soon to loom largest was AIDS. It is not mentioned in this chronology. In fact, in June 1982 the term "AIDS" had yet to be invented. The Body Politic had run three stories by then on what The New York Times, in July 1981, had called a "rare cancer found in 41 homosexuals." TBP reported the first five diagnosed cases in Canada in its September 1982 issue -- two months after Flaunting It! had gone to press. From 1983, AIDS would come to dominate gay organizing and, later, nearly all of gay life. But that's a story for another chronology.

Even this one doesn't tell the whole story up to mid-1982 -- and could not. Every chronology is selective; this one's title, "Victories and defeats," makes its focus clear. In its limited space, not even the full breadth of gay and lesbian organizing could be reflected. Many (but far from all) "firsts" were noted, as gay groups made their début in places large and small -- but their rampant proliferation by the early 1980s simply couldn't be encompassed in the 18 pages reserved for this record in Flaunting It!.

In its April 1981 issue, The Body Politic listed not only non-profit social and political groups across Canada, as it had since 1971, but -- for the first time -- the bars, baths, and clubs of the commercial gay scene in Toronto. Between them, by mid-1982, "Out in the City" (the local listings) and "Network" (the former "Community Page," covering the rest of the country) showed more than 300 entries.

A more comprehensive record of the first 12 years covered in "Victories and defeats" is available in Don McLeod's Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada: A Selected Annotated Chronology, 1964 - 1975 (this link leads to more information about the book and how to order it). Don's scope was much broader and his sources much more extensive. ("Victories and defeats," dependent on The Body Politic for most of its entries, listed only 22 events before the paper began; McLeod offers about 280 for the same period.) His work is also fully referenced, offering valuable leads for further research.

Context: 1997

"Victories and defeats" has been treated here as a historical document. It appears in full as it did in print, with only minor changes in formatting. The few errors I found (those not marked "sic" are my own) are noted in brackets, as are any annotations or more specific dates I added (using Don McLeod's book and issues of The Body Politic as my sources). Some annotations offer links to related documents on this site; the chronology itself offers those documents some historical context.

The full text has also been broken up into separate pages, shown below with approximate word counts. You can get to any page using the links there, or you can scan the whole document using the "Previous" and "Next" links on each page. Each one also has a link that can bring you back to the list of pages below.

As noted, the last entry in this chronology is dated June 15, 1982. I have followed up some stories, in brief, in annotations to a few specific entries, and at the end of the page covering 1982.

Another document, What we demanded; What we got, tracks the fate of demands made at Canada's first major gay demonstration, on Parliament Hill, August 28, 1971. It gives more information on: Criminal Code reform; immigration; the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP; and the long struggle to gain federal protection from discrimination, in the Canadian Human Rights Act, 1977, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982. It has links to a background document summarizing more than 170 related stories in The Body Politic and Xtra, from 1974 to 1997.

Other chronologies are (or, as they are made available, will be) noted in our List of online documents. Some already shown there offer much more detail from late 1977 to early 1985, spanning years of trials -- for The Body Politic and for others facing charges, hundreds of them from bar and bath raids.

Rick Bébout, June 15, 1997 (revised August 13, 1997)

Victories and defeats
A gay and lesbian chronology 1964-1982

Introduction from Flaunting It! (1,000 words)
1964 - 1971 (850 words)
1972 (500 words)
1973 (500 words)
1974 (400 words)
1975 (800 words)
1976 (800 words)
1977 (1,450 words)
1978 (1,000 words)
1979 (1,700 words)
1980 (1,150 words)
1981 (1,850 words)
1982 (to Jun 15, with some later developments; 1,300 words)

[What we demanded; What we got] [List of online documents]