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!

Early Gay Activism

As Egan became more settled with long-term housing and a reliable job he was able to commit more energy into gay activism again. The late 50s and early 60s was a period in which he started to network with a lot of other activists. This was followed by more recognition in the 60s of Jim Egan as a prominent gay activist. Even within the gay community, increased visibility of queerness brought up backlash. In the 60s many gay men in Toronto didn’t want Egan to be publishing pieces on homosexuality and exposing their life. They were afraid that increased visibility meant more scrutiny and backlash. However, Egan truly believed in collective power and was steadfast in his belief that if everyone was “exposed” then there was nothing that people could do about it. 

When Nesbit and Egan split up because of there different opinions regarding this matter and the general pressures of activism, Egan started working at the Music Room as a mentor to young gay men. However, he also became disillusioned with the activism and the lack of support that he felt from the community—this was also exacerbated by the pain of breaking up with Nesbit with whom he had been with for 15 years. He eventually gave up activism and got back together with Nesbit and they both moved to BC in 1964. However, in BC, Jack also became more comfortable with gay activism and in 1985 they co-founded the Comox Valley branch of the Island Gay Society. They ran this for 11 years, with their home becoming a central meeting point.

Early Gay Activism