CLGA Digital Collections

CLGA's Digital Collections

Explore highlights from the CLGA’s collections of personal and organizational papers, artefacts, ephemera and more!

Browse Exhibits (4 total)

Trans Activism and Ontario Health Care Coverage for Gender Confirming Surgery, 1998-2008

This oral history project focuses on the 1998 delisting and 2008 re-listing of coverage for gender confirmation surgery under Ontario's health care plan. A total of 8 interviews were conducted with 7 activists, community members, and politicians who shared rich reflections about their work and engagement with community, as well as with policy-makers and government institutions. 

All narrators share details of their personal and professional lives throughout the 1990s and 2000s, especially as it pertains to the LGBTQ+ rights movement and the transgender community in Ontario. These individuals had led the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Ontario well before the 1998 delisting of GCS, an event which galvanized the fight for transgender equality under diverse aspects of provincial law. As such, they speak passionately about the need to push strategically to fight for trans people's access to quality health care.  

Interviews can be found in the 'Oral Histories' section on the menu to the right. The section 'History of GCS in Ontario' compiles the anecdotes of narrators to trace the history of gender confirmation surgery in Ontario, including details about how it operated before the delisting, the struggle during the decade without coverage, as well as a brief history of the transgender rights movement in Ontario in the 1990s and 2000s. A gallery of related photographs, newspaper clippings, and other visual material can be found under the respective title. These sections are accompanied by a glossary which explains some terms and acronyms frequently used throughout this project.

Through these interviews, we can learn more about how and why the decade between 1998-2008 was such a significant component of Canadian trans history, and how it provided impetus for many of the major positive changes that have occurred since these events. They also provide interesting reflections on the combination of trans and LGBTQ politics, on formal political processes and contexts, and on trans community relationships and issues.

[August 13, 2018: this exhibition is in process; if you have questions, please contact Elspeth Brown at elspeth.brown@utoronto.ca]

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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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LGBTQ2+ Oral Histories

Oral histories have been a popular way to preserve the lives and testimonies of marginalized subjects who have often been denied access to the historical record. This exhibit is a small selection of the CLGA's collection of oral histories and audiovisual materials relating to LGBTQ2+ lives in Canada. 

Some of these histories have been collected as part of formal oral history projects, while others have resulted from interviews for news articles or other projects. Together they provide a rich picture of life in Canada for LGBT people from the 1950s to the 1970s, covering topics such as interviewees' early lives and coming out, bar culture, social services, activism, municipal and national politics, HIV/AIDS, and intra-community tensions. 

These cassette tapes have been digitized by the LGBTQ+ Oral History Digital Collaboratory in order to preserve them and make them available online.

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Lesbians Making History: Oral History Project

Maureen FitzGerald Holding LMH Banner 2.jpg

The Lesbians Making History (LMH) collective came together in the mid-1980s and was inspired by oral history projects of gay lives coming out of Buffalo, Boston and San Francisco. The collective interviewed 9 women about their experiences as ‘out’ lesbians in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

Collective members included:

Rachel Epstein, Maureen FitzGerald, Amy Gottlieb, Didi Khayatt, Mary Louise Noble, and Lorie Rotenberg

Some of the women interviewed by the collective also appeared in Aerlyn Weissman and Lynne Fernie’s NFB-funded documentary Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives. The 1992 film was out of print for many years until 2014, when the National Film Board released it in digital format. 

Although the organizers of Lesbians Making History were committed to keeping the project a community-based initiative, and not one rooted in academic pursuit, they allowed Elise Chenier, now a professor at Simon Fraser University, to use the transcripts of the interviews for her MA thesis. Chenier’s work on lesbian bar culture in the 1950s and 60s is widely taught in Canadian universities. Interview material was also used by Cameron Duder and by Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile.

In 2014 the original audio tapes were given to the CLGA via the LGBTQ Digital Oral History Collaboratory, a multi-institutional research project led by University of Toronto professor Elspeth Brown and funded by a 5-year SSRHC Insight grant.  

Embedded at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA), Collaboratory members digitized LMH materials and created new verbatim transcriptions. Original LHM collective members assisted with editing transcripts, identifying key words and writing abstracts for each oral history interview. 

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