What is Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada? | What is Gay Liberation? | The LGLC Team | Cite This Source

What is Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada?

Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada (LGLC) is an interactive digital resource for the study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) history in Canada from 1964 to 1981. The project takes two books, Don McLeod’s chronologies Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada Volumes 1 and 2 (ECW Press, 1996; Homewood Books, 2014), and has converted them into a database that allows users to explore the people, places, events, and publications that defined Canadian lesbian and gay liberation history.

We have supplemented the digitized text with additional data about the people, places, organizations, and periodicals mentioned in McLeod’s books, including biographical information for every person mentioned in the database. These individuals worked to push through major changes to the national political and social landscape, however, because of their status as members of marginalized and persecuted groups, their efforts and identities have largely gone unrecorded. Our goal is to increase the amount of existing and publicly accessible historical information about the lesbian and gay liberation movement in Canada, and to capture for posterity the contributions that many individuals in Canada made to this movement.

Historical event content warning: The events documented in LGLC include descriptions of homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, colonial violence, ableism, classism, assault, sexual assault, sexual assault of minors, murder, and police violence.

A Selected Annotated Chronology

The LGLC project team is forever indebted to Don McLeod for so generously allowing us to work with his books, Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada: A Selected Annotated Chronology, Volumes 1 and 2.

Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada: A Selected Annotated Chronology, Volume 1, 1964-1975, originally published in 1996, is a chronology of the first twelve years of the organized homophile/gay liberation movement in Canada. The start date of the chronology corresponds with the formation of the Vancouver-based Association for Social Knowledge (ASK), the first large-scale homophile organization in Canada. The end date coincides with the founding of the National Gay Rights Coalition/Coalition national pour les droits des homosexuels (NGRC/CNDH), the "first truly national coalition of Canadian lesbian and gay groups" (McLeod, Lesbian and Gay Liberation In Canada V.1 viii).

Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada: A Selected Annotated Chronology, Volume 2, 1976-1981 continues the series. The second volume concludes in 1981, "the year of the Bath Raids in Toronto and the beginning of the first press reports concerning AIDS" (McLeod, Lesbian and Gay Liberation In Canada V.2 ix).

The word ‘selected’ in the titles of the two volumes refers to the limits that were placed on the material covered—the books focus primarily on "self-declared lesbians and gay men and their activities in regard to the forging of lesbian and gay communities and liberation in Canada" (viii). Therefore, the chronology dedicates its foremost attention to demonstrations, political actions, lobbying, and legal reforms.

What is Gay Liberation?

Gay liberation was a militant, radical, and unapologetically visible gay rights movement. In stark contrast to the assimilationist politics of the 1980s and beyond, the movement rejected heterosexual norms and compulsory nuclear family structures. To counter the repression of gay men and lesbians espoused by mainstream culture, gay liberationists developed highly eroticised utopian politics in direct opposition to mainstream respectability. They pioneered new forms of consciousness raising, created a vibrant print culture, won legal reforms, and developed successful strategies for supporting survivors of assault. That said, the movement itself was not without internal schisms and debate: gay men who focused on their own sexual libertarianism could be blind to gender-based power imbalances, and lesbian groups, often finding themselves at odds with both the gay liberation and women’s liberation movements, splintered off to form their own organizations based around distinct sets of demands. In its early years, few gay and lesbian liberationists addressed class- and race-based oppression or trans rights. LGLC traces the progress of the movement, its varying political aims, its developing diversity, its setbacks, and its triumphs.

LGBT rights movements have remade themselves, generation after generation, often without engaging with the political work of predecessors; however, since we are all indebted to the activists who preceded us, we hope that the LGLC project will serve as a welcome resource for those who want to learn from, study, and build on the rich history of gay liberation in Canada.

The LGLC Team


Constance Crompton (University of Ottawa)

Michelle Schwartz (Toronto Metropolitan University)


Donald W. McLeod (University of Toronto)

Susan Brown (University of Guelph)

El Chenier (Simon Fraser University)

Fangmin Wang (Toronto Metropolitan University)

M.J. Sohonos (Toronto Metropolitan University)

Elspeth Brown (University of Toronto)

Fabien Galipeau (Archives Gaies du Québec)

Managing Editor

Candice Lipski

Current Research Assistants

Pascale Dangoisse (University of Ottawa)

Sam Lehn (University of Ottawa)

Moni Razavi (University of Ottawa)

Farinaz Basmechi (University of Ottawa)

Jasmin Macarios (University of Ottawa)


Patrick Fung -- Toronto Metropolitan University Library (systems administration)

Rob Butz -- Oxygen Smith (prospopgraphy data ingestion and front end)

Iversoft (front end)

Former Project Managers

Candice Lipski (University of British Columbia)

Raymon Sandhu (University of British Columbia)

Travis White (University of British Columbia)

Caitlin Voth (University of British Columbia)

Former Research Assistants

Oxana Pilenko (University of Ottawa)

Alice Defours (Lyon 2)

Ewan Matthews (Toronto Metropolitan University)

Caitlin Voth (University of British Columbia)

Nadine Boulay (Simon Fraser University)

Jessica Bonney (University of British Columbia)

Sarah Lane (Toronto Metropolitan University)

Raymon Sandhu (University of British Columbia)

Anderson Tuguinay (Toronto Metropolitan University)

Travis White (University of British Columbia)

Stefanie Martin (Toronto Metropolitan University)

Cole Mash (University of British Columbia)

Seamus Riordan-Short (University of British Columbia)

Rebecca Desjarlais (University of British Columbia)

The LGLC project has been made possible by a SSHRC Insight Grant, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the support of the Toronto Metropolitan University University Libraries with further support from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa, Compute Canada, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the British Columbia Knowledge Network, the UBC Okanagan Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, the UBC Okanagan Humanities Data Lab now the AMP Lab, the Toronto Metropolitan University Centre for Digital Humanities, the Toronto Metropolitan University Libraries Collaboratory, and the Humanities Data Lab at the University of Ottawa.

The LGLC is an infrastructure pilot project of the Canadian Research Writing Collaboratory (CWRC).

Front end design by Iversoft. Logo and branding by The Public.

Banner image courtesy of The ArQuives.

Cite This Source

LGLC website:

Crompton, C., McLeod, D., & Schwartz, M. (n.d.). Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada. Retrieved from https://lglc.ca/

Individual page:

Crompton, C., McLeod, D., & Schwartz, M. (n.d.). Chris Bearchell. Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada. Retrieved from https://lglc.ca/person/CBEA