“I guess I was always an activist,” Rayside says. “I was active in feminist circles soon after my appointment to the Faculty in 1974. Gay activism came a few years later, when I started where lots of people started — stuffing and licking envelopes for the monthly gay magazine, The Body Politic.
“The police raids got me and many people mobilized. I wasn’t so good with a bullhorn, but I was good at organization, so I became active in the Right to Privacy Committee, the Citizens’ Independent Review of Police Activities and, a few years later, in the coalition pressing for the addition of sexual orientation to the Ontario Human Rights Code.”
Rayside’s activism continued at the University of Toronto. He helped form an early 1990s committee on homophobia. In the mid-90s, he and Rona Abramovitch, the then Status of Women officer at U of T, alongside a group of students, faculty and staff conceived of the Positive Space initiative.
In 2004, Rayside became the founding director of the Bonham Centre. Arts & Science News spoke to him about the centre and his current research.