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LGBTTQ Cultural History – Preamble

January 26, 2010

Attempting to narrow in on the five most important events in LBGT Canadian cultural history is difficult for a variety of reasons. First, much of what today can be considered a forerunner of LBGT culture was, at the time of its birth, still kept “in the closet.” For example, the novelist Morley Callaghan, who wrote in the 1930s, is now a renowned gay Canadian author, remained private about his sexuality throughout the entire duration of his career. Media outlets, and even specific films or documentaries like Coming Out (which was produced in Toronto in 1978, and was the first documentary specifically geared to an LBGT audience) go poorly documented in Canadian archives and get very little scholarly attention.

Additionally, many Canadian LBGT scholars admit that Toronto is the biggest outlet for preserving LBGT history, limiting much LBGT scholarship to Toronto at the expense of the rest of Canada. Finally, the climate of LBGT culture cannot be narrowed to a list of Canadian cultural events very easily, because LBGT gains have always occurred on a transnational scale; in fact, Canada decriminalized homosexuality fairly late compared to a number of other countries, and adopted many cultural symbols from other countries (like the rainbow flag from the United States).

I am therefore basing my list of five pivotal moments in Canadian LBGT culture on the more heavily documented events that receive ample recognition from a variety of activists and scholars as important to LBGT history, keeping in mind that much LBGT history goes unrecognized because it is underrepresented. I am not making this list of five events a list of “firsts”—rather, I am attempting to focus on examining some of the more influential cultural manifestations of the LBGT movement.

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