Looking Back at 25 Years of Sexual Diversity Studies

On September 27, 2023, the Bonham Centre will be hosting a wine and cheese reception to commemorate 25 years of the Sexual Diversity Studies program. Ahead of this event, let’s take a look back at some of the rich history of our program.

1974The first gay studies course in Canada is offered at UofT

The course, titled “New Perspectives on the Gay Experience,” was taught by Dr. Michael Lynch. While this precedes SDS, Lynch’s legacy is still potent in the department to this day with a grant and annual lecturer series honouring his legacy.

1998The Sexual Diversity Studies program is formed

The SDS program was first established as a minor in 1998, led by an advisory committee with SDS professors Maureen Fitzgerald, Walid Saleh, Marianna Valverde, David Rayside, David Townsend, and others. The program quickly became popular with over 100 students enrolling.

2001Dr. Brian Pronger donates collection of Adult Gay Male VHS tapes to UofT

The collection of commercially produced Gay Adult Film VHS tapes was administered by the then newly established Sexual Diversity Studies program and becomes the foundation for the now Sexual Representations Collection. A collection of roughly 1,000 commercially produced VHS videocassettes of gay pornography from the United States, Mexico, and Canada from the 1980s – 1990s.

2004The Mark S. Bonham Centre is officially formed

With a $1-million donation from UofT alumni Mark Bonham, the program was able to expand to the centre we know today. Dr. David Rayside served as the inaugural director of the centre and expanded the program to offer a specialist and major program on top of the existing minor.

2006The Sexual Diversity Studies Undergraduate Journal (SDSUJ) is formed

The journal – which later became known as Hardwire – was created to showcase scholarly work by undergraduates in the field of sexual diversity.

2008The SDS Graduate Collaborative Specialization is launched

The Graduate Collaborative Specialization in Sexual Diversity Studies was launched in 2008 by Brenda Cossman and Associate Director Scott Rayter (who is still teaching at SDS to this day!)

2010SDSUJ becomes Hardwire

The Sexual Diversity Studies undergraduate journal releases their first issue under their new name Hardwire.

2014The SRC hosts first public exhibition of its collection

While the Sexual Representations Collection has been at University College since 2001, the collection held its first public exhibition “Archiving Public Sex” in 2014 in collaboration with the University of Toronto Art Museum.

2014The Bonham Centre hosts the WorldPride Human Rights Conference

Brenda Cossman, the director of Bonham Centre the time, brings WorldPride to UofT. The three-day conference featured presentations from people like Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Iceland’s first female prime minister and the world’s first openly lesbian head of government and Frank Mugisha, a gay rights activist in Uganda.

2015The Sex Salon Lecturer Series is run for the first time

The Sex Salon, a monthly speaker series organized and hosted by our graduate students, is held for the first time in 2015. The now annual speaker series opened with the event “Speaking Sex to Power”: Pedagogies of Intimacy and Epistemology of Touch.”

2017SDS hosts its first Queer Directions Symposium

Queer Directions is our annual symposium addressing the most pressing issues in queer and sexuality studies. The first symposium themed around Queer Inhumanisms was held in 2017.

2018Hardwire returns with its second issue

After a few years of hiatus, undergraduate students Talia Holy and Elsa Bornhöft revive the journal and release its second issue with a new look.

2019The SDS Dept hosts its first Lynch Lecture

Named in honour of Dr. Michael Lynch, the annual lecture invites prominent scholars within the fields of queer, feminist, and sexuality studies to give a public guest lecture.

2019The Martha LA McCain Postdoctoral Fellowship is established

The Marta LA McCain Postdoctoral Fellowship is established to support emerging scholars pursuing research in queer, trans, and LGBTQ2+ studies. Our first doctoral fellow was Sara Shroff, whose public lecture can be viewed on our YouTube channel!

2019The SDS program gets a curriculum overhaul

Under the direction of director Dana Seitler and then undergraduate coordinator Dai Kojima, the program gets a revamp that better reflects an intersectional understanding of queerness. This overhaul brought into existence the widely popular SDS199 foundational course.

2021The QTRL is created

The Queer and Trans Research Lab is a collaborative research project focusing on methods in queer and trans studies across the disciplines as well as across creative, activist, and scholarly research practices. Established in 2021, the lab is currently on its third year and has recently released their 2023-24 Year-In-Review.

September 27, 2023SDS celebrates its 25 year anniversary!

Join us on September 27, 2023 to celebrate 25 years of Sexual Diversity Studies!