The ArQuives Digital Exhibitions

The ArQuives's Digital Exhibitions

Explore highlights from The ArQuives’s collections of personal and organizational papers, artifacts, ephemera and more!

Browse Exhibits (18 total)

Queer Liberation Theory Project

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The Queer Liberation Theory Project seeks to advance the public education and community development work being done in the name of Queer Liberation by resurrecting the principles of the historical Gay Liberation Movement, re-contextualizing them within contemporary queer discourse, translating the findings in theoretical terms, and disseminating them through various accessible multimedia platforms.

Ontario-based activists, academics and artists who engage in queer liberation theory and activism have been interviewed and an oral discussion and feature documentary created for public education and queer community development purposes. 

Created by Dr. Nick J. Mulé in collaboration with Queer Ontario through Dissident Voices Productions with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

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25 Years of YouthLine

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Halloween Balls at the Letros and St. Charles Taverns

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Abstract

The Letros and St. Charles were two of the first popular gay bars in Toronto. These spaces were a safehaven for drag queens and genderqueer people, as until 2017 in Canada there was no protection for men who dress in women's clothing.

Due to the lack of protection under the law, cross dressers were regularly arrested and harassed by police. The exception to this rule was on Halloween, when men dressing as women was considered socially acceptable.

In the '50s, '60s, and '70s, the Letros and St. Charles Taverns would host annual drag balls, which attracted huge crowds. These crowds eventually became violent towards the drag queens and other patrons to the gay bars, making this gay-bashing an annual Halloween ritual.

The violent behaviour of Torontonians, the degree of police involvement, and the participation of the queer community in protecting their peers is very reflective of the politics and climate of Toronto during the height of the gay rights movement.

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Queering Family Photography

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This exhibit explores the critical work that queer, trans, and two-spirited family photos do in documenting and creating queer modes of belonging, and how our emotional attachments to queer family photographs have also sustained LGBTQ2+ lives.

 Photo credit:

Teo kissing her son, Matthew
Unknown photographer
Circa 2008
Toronto, Ontario
Gift of Teo Owang
Courtesy of the Family Camera Network and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

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Trans Health Care Activism in Ontario, 1998-2008

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This exhibit presents the work of an oral history project, conducted in 2016, focussing on the 1998 delisting and 2008 re-listing of coverage for gender confirmation. Inside you can find the reflections of 7 activists, community members, and politicians about their work advocating for the trans community during this time. 

[January 10, 2019: this exhibition is in process; if you have questions, please contact Elspeth Brown at elspeth.brown@utoronto.ca]

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Gay Pride through Sports: the Cabbagetown Group Softball League

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The Cabbagetown Group Softball League (CGSL) was founded in 1977 by a group of baseball enthusiasts who had gathered informally to play at public diamonds around Toronto since 1975. Many of the CGSL's founding members were activists in Toronto's gay liberation movement. The league's mandate was to provide an opportunity for members of the LGBTQ community and their supporters to play organized sports in a positive atmosphere. The league motto was "Gay Pride Through Sports". While the primary goal of the CGSL was to promote gay fellowship, it was also hoped that the league would serve as a means of bridge-building across ideological divides. 

A collection of early records created by members of the league's executive committee, known as the CGSL fonds, can be consulted at the CLGA where it is designated by its fonds number, F0036. These records include meeting minutes, financial documents, correspondence, event memorabilia, promotional films, photographs, uniforms and button badges. The following exhibit is a representational sampling of the types of records and documentary themes included in the CGSL fonds and available for viewing and research purposes at the CLGA. It should be noted that a few of the documents in this exhibit derive from other fonds or collections at the CLGA that contain related records. 

The CLGA would like to thank Jack Brannigan, the donor of the majority of the records in the CGSL fonds, for his invaluable assistance in providing contextual information for the documents, which made this exhibit all the richer. If you played on a team in the CGSL, please consider donating your records to the CLGA. 

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Mapping Foolscap: Gay Oral Histories, 1981-1987

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Between 1981-1987, John Grube and Lionel Collier collected oral histories of earlier gay life in Toronto. Known as the “Foolscap Oral History Project,” or the “Toronto Gay History Project,” this enterprise produced nearly 100 interviews with Canadian gay men born in the first half of the twentieth century, who had spent most of their lives in Toronto. 
 
Drawing on Collier and Grube’s interviews, the digital exhibit “Mapping Foolscap” provides insights into the Toronto gay scene prior to the gay liberation movement by locating the places where homosexual men gathered, cruised, and socialized between the 1940s and the late 1960s.
 
Credits
 
Digital Collection by Juan Carlos Mezo and Zohar Freeman
 
Created in collaboration with the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory. The Collaboratory is directed by Dr. Elspeth Brown and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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Not A Place On The Map: Desh Pardesh, 1988-2001

Toronto’s Desh Pardesh festival (1988–2001) was a multidisciplinary arts festival that showcased underrepresented and marginalized voices within the South Asian diaspora. These oral history interviews with artists and organizers involved in the festival were created by the South Asian Visual Arts Centre in 2016.

Credits: Created by students Amal Khurram and Alisha Krishna for the the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory. The Collaboratory is directed by Dr. Elspeth Brown and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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Gendertrash: Transsexual Zine, 1993-1995

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gendertrash is a zine/periodical “devoted to the issues & concerns of transsexuals.” Its four issues were published by Mirha-Soleil Ross and Xanthra Phillippa MacKay in Toronto from 1993-1995.

Click here to go to the interactive order form, where you can read full issues of gendertrash and look at buttons sold by genderpress.

Click on the links at the side for more information on the history of gendertrash and related archival holdings in the Mirha-Soleil Ross fonds. 

Digital collection by Sid Cunningham, Caleigh Inman, and MacKenzie Stewart.

Created in collaboration with the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory. The Collaboratory is directed by Dr. Elspeth Brown and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 

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Nancy Nicol Collection

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Nancy Nicol is a documentary filmmaker who has dedicated her career to tracing the history of the LGBTQ movements in Canada and around the world. She has worked as a professor in visual studies since 1989 at York University. However, her career as a filmmaker started in the 1970s with experimental films, but by the 1980s Nicol’s work focused on documentary film addressing political issues including pro-choice struggles for access to abortion, unions, and the working struggles of women and migrants. By the 2000s her films changed focus to the history of lesbian and gay rights from the 1970s to the 2010s.
The exhibit in particular showcases shorts and excerpts from the award-winning documentary series From Criminality to Equality which includes Stand Together (2002), The Queer Nineties(2009), Politics of the Heart(2005) and, The End of Second Class (2006). Director Nancy Nicol brings to life 40 years of lesbian and gay rights movement history in Canada, through the voices of activists, community leaders, and human rights lawyers, combined with a rich resource of rarely seen archival materials. The films trace the emergence of gay liberation, the struggles for human and civil rights, recognition of same-sex relationship and parenting rights and same sex marriage. The work provides an in-depth study of the complex relations between social movement activism, legal and political change, and the capacity of ordinary people to take up extraordinary challenges to overcome injustice. It is an extended case study on the history of a social movement, a movement that emerged out of conditions of criminality and profound social exclusion.
In addition to the series From Criminality to Equality are shorts and excerpts from Nicol’s other films including Proud Lives: Chris Bearchell (2007), Proud Lives: George Hislop (2005), Gay Pride and Prejudice (1994), Making the Political Appear, Black Queer Histories of Organizing (2006), From Russia, in Love (2009), and Pride and Resistance (2007).

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