Saturday, April 16, 2011

Queering the Archives: The Collections of the CLGA #3

For the third and final post in this series on the collection of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives I'll look at the core collection of the organization; the papers of The Body Politic.

The Body Politic, a monthly gay liberation journal, began publishing in 1971 and continued until 1987. Based in Toronto and incorporated as Pink Triangle Press in 1975, it would become one of the most important voices for the gay liberation movement in Canada. It's importance in the evolution of the open LGBT community in Canada and its role in the sustaining the gay liberation movement in this country is tremendous. It would, for example, be continually brought to court over obscenity and censorship charges throughout its life. It's legacy rests in  its contributions to the legal, political, social history of the LGBT community in Canada.

Here's a radio link (clip titled 'Introducing the Body Politic') discussing the founding of The Body Politic.

The records of The Body Politic and Pink Triangle Press were to form the core of the original collection of what would become the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. It was The Body Politic collective which actually set up the CLGA.

I am about to leave Ottawa for Toronto tomorrow. Grad school calls. I took one last walk around Parliament Hill today and couldn't help but imagine the men and women who had at one time or another set foot on the political centre of this country. As I walked away from the Peace Tower I was suddenly hit with guilt. While I had thought on the likes of King, Pearson and J.S. Woodsworth I had given no thought to the first gay rights demonstration in 1971. I stood for a moment and reflected back upon Charlie Hill's words, "Gay is proud gay is good..." and I realized, in the context of the time, how powerful and courageous those words were. I pictured the small group of rain drenched gays and lesbians proudly standing under the Peace Tower. (clip titled 'The First Gay March') I find it hard to imagine how difficult that was to do. The Body Politic, of course, covered the march. The Parliament Hill March in 1971 I believe actually inspired those in Toronto to form The Body Politic. Truly, the journal is one of the most important aspects of LGBT history and I would encourage even more study on it then has already been done.

Happy Researching,

Jordan Kerr
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