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1965 – Winter Kept Us Warm

January 26, 2010

The film Winter Kept Us Warm is a cultural milestone for the LGBT movement, because it is among the most explicit films of its time dealing with LGBT issues. A story about the ambiguously homosexual friendship of two young University of Toronto students, the amateur film was greeted with worldwide praise during a time when the Canadian film industry had barely any presence internationally (Dixon 143). The film dealt with homosexuality both ambiguously and implicitly; as can be seen in the below clip, the film contains segments wherein the friendship between the two main characters quite clearly progresses beyond an innocent friendship.

As the film Winter Kept Us Warm reached critical acclaim, the London Times called it “easily the most appealing of all the North American entries at Cannes” (143). Importantly, the film debuted before the Trudeau’s famous Omnibus Bill in 1969, when homosexual activity was still legally considered a crime. It is therefore an example of what Thomas Waugh claims was “definitely something sexual [happening] in Western industrialized societies in the three or four decades following the Second World War” (49). Winter Kept Us Warm fits snugly within this period of revolutionary activity—still in the margins of society and not yet legally recognized, but also beginning to creep into cultural movements—marking a shift in attitude about the LGBT lifestyle in Canada.

A clip from Winter Kept Us Warm: after Peter leaves, seemingly jealous of his friend’s relationship, Doug plays Peter a song for him.

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