- Paperback ISBN: 9781552664377
- Paperback Price: $17.95 CAD
- Hardcover ISBN: 9781552664568
- Hardcover Price: $34.95 CAD
- Publication Date: Sep 2011
- Rights: World
- Pages: 144
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About Canada: Queer Rights
Is Canada a ”queer utopia”? Canada was the fourth country in the world — and the first in the Western Hemisphere — to legalize same-sex marriage. Queer people in Canada enjoy many of the same legal rights as heterosexuals, and social acceptance of homosexuality has grown exponentially. But are these the goals that queer activists hoped to achieve? Is this legal regulation and normalization of homosexuality what the lesbian and gay liberation movement of the early 1970s fought for? Using the origins of this movement as a starting point, About Canada: Queer Rights examines the history of the struggle for queer rights in Canada to create a better understanding of the present. What Peter Knegt finds is that Canada’s queer people are as diverse and multicultural as Canada itself — they are not easily generalized and have most certainly not achieved equality.
What Does Our Progress Mean? • Regional Organizing • Legal Reform • Institutional Homophobia • Children, Youth and Education • Health • Difference and Privilege • Conclusion • Bibliography • List of Supplementary Materials
About the Author
Peter Knegt holds an MA in media studies from Concordia University. He has written for the Undergraduate Journal of Sexual Diversity Studies, Xtra!, Exclaim, InToronto, Variety and Playback. He is the associate editor of indieWIRE and holds a position on the advisory board of the University of Toronto’s Center For Sexual Diversity Studies.
The legal position for Canada’s GLBT citizens is enviable by many international standards, but Peter Knegt is anything but smug in his treatment of his country’s civil-rights evolution. In Queer Rights–the seventh in the “About Canada” series–Knegt takes nothing for granted, pointing out that while full legal equality is something to celebrate, queer Canadians still face numerous social and economic challenges. This succinct, smart volume documents in detail the various legal and political battles that led to Canada becoming the the first country in the Western Hemisphere (and the fourth in the world) to legalize same-sex marriage. Knegt is aware that Canadian history is often told only through the prism of its largest city, and he carefully avoids Toronto-centrism by interviewing gay activists from coast to coast. He includes a discussion about the distinct challenges faced by two-spirited aboriginal peoples, recent immigrants, and refugees who are gay and trans, who still face their own set of complex legal hurdles. He quotes a number of articles from the trailblazing (and sadly now defuct) gay and lesbian magazine The Body Politic. And his extensive research has paid off. About Canada: Queer Rights is a crucial and reader-friendly account of a progressive country’s move towards the full legal equality of its sexual minorities. - Matthew Hays, The Gay & Lesbian Review/Worldwide, Jan/Feb 2012.
“The Truxx raid never changed the attitudes of Montrealers towards gays and lesbians and it certainly didn’t inject pride in the gay community,” veteran gay activist Michael Hendricks–who has done more for gay civil rights in Canada than probably any judge or politician–told me for the only published history of Sex Garage, in Xtra. “That’s why I believe Sex Garage was Montreal’s Stonewall. It created community and brought us together in a common front. It also brought English and French together. We founded a group called Lesbians and Gays Against Violence and kept parading around the city for another two months.”
LGV was the predecessor of La Table de concertation des gaies et lesbiennes du grand Montreal, the political-action group pivotal in lobbying for the Quebec Human Rights Commission’s historic 1993 public hearings on violence against gays and lesbians.
Later, La Table was also key in lobbying for the 1999 passage of Quebec’s historic Omnibus Bill 32, which extended benefits, pensions and social services to same-sex couples. That also led to Hendricks’ 2004 Quebec Superior Court victory legalizing same-sex marriage in Quebec, a landmark ruling that also forced Ottawa’s hand in the 2005 national debate over same-sex marriage.
Montreal publicist Puelo Deir produced the outdoor-stage show at Montreal’s Parc Lafontaine following LGV’s 1990 march from Montreal City Hall that, in tandem with other Sex Garage fundraisers, helped raise $5,000 to cover lawyer’s fees. That Sex Garage march also directly laid the groundwork for Montreal’s Divers/Cite Queer Pride march that Deir co-founded with Suzanne Girard in 1993, a march that in 2007 morphed into the city’s famed eight-day Divers/Cite queer arts and culture festival. Sex Garage also inspired Bad Boy Club Montreal head honcho Robert Vézina to organize the BBCM’s first Black & Blue circuit party in 1991. “We thought everybody needed a breath of fresh air,” Robert told me years later. Over the next decade Divers/Cite and Black & Blue would, ironically, transform Montreal into a choice gay tourism destination, pushing Tourisme Montreal to create a gay-tourism template since adopted by tourism authorities worldwide.
So a book on gay rights in Canada that doesn’t even mention Sex Garage can’t help but fall short.
On the other hand, I was pleased to see The Montreal Manifesto – as it was read by activists who took over the opening of the 1989 International AIDS Conference in Montreal – made it into the book. As ACT UP founder Larry Kramer told me himself, “We made a difference at the AIDS conference in Montreal.”
Knegt admits it is impossible to include everything in a book as slim as Queer Rights.
“My main goal – and honestly the greatest challenge – was to make this book as inclusive as possible,” he says. “Sure, I also wanted to make it as accessible as possible. This is really just an introduction that intends to lead readers into other educational directions. But it was important to make it as comprehensive as 150 pages could possibly allow. And that’s a significant challenge.”
Ménage à trois: Peter Knegt comes to Drawn & Quarterly to discuss his book on queer rights
par: Mark Ambrose Harris