(A version of this article also appears in our Fall 2011 Newsletter.)
In October and November, 1969, activist history was made with the formation of the University of Toronto Homophile Association. This was the first group in Ontario to rally around lesbian and gay rights, and one of the first in Canada to be shaped by the new wave of sexual liberation politics.
Forty-two years later, in the late afternoon of November 2nd, 2011, this remarkable event will be commemorated by the installation of a provincial plaque at University College, where UTHA’s first campus meeting was held. The unveiling, sponsored by the Bonham Centre and the Ontario Heritage Trust and open to the public, will be from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, in East Hall at U.C.. The plaque itself will then be placed on the east side of the college (facing the Student Union building and Hart House).
This will be the first LGBT-related provincial plaque in Ontario. Its unveiling will feature representatives of the OHT, the provincial government, and other levels of government. Representing the university will be President David Naylor, Bonham Centre director Brenda Cossman, and SDS student Nikki Stratagacos (representing LGBTOUT).
The idea to mark UTHA’s establishment came from a Bonham Centre working group and was enthusiastically submitted to the Ontario Heritage Trust by the University of Toronto. It was then approved by the OHT, which then undertook preparations for the plaque itself.
UTHA’s origins lie in a Varsity ad placed by Jearld Moldenhauer, who worked on campus and would soon establish Glad Day Bookstore. This was the beginning of a long history of queer activism at U of T, including LGBOUT. The early days were dominated by gay men, but gradually the activism around sexual diversity expanded in mandate and in the range of participants.
One of the formative steps in that activist story was the establishment of SDS in 1998. The Bonham Centre would not be where it is today without the years of impatient energy contributed by U of T students, administrative staff, and faculty in the thirty years before.
SDS is a proud sponsor of this initiative, and alongside the OHT warmly invites all of its students, instructors, alumni, community supporters, and members of the broader public, to attend the celebratory unveiling in East Hall, University College, on November 2nd at 5pm.