The Body Politic and Ryerson

POLITICS, SUBCULTURE AND LIBERATION

The Body Politic is a Canadian magazine, which was published from 1971 to 1987.  It was one of Canada’s first significant gay publications and played a prominent role in the development of the LGBT community in Canada.  The significance of its circulation in the Ryerson community is linked to Gerald Hannon, who was known as the most prolific writer for the magazine as well as a faculty member at Ryerson.  One of his most controversial pieces, which caught endless amounts of criticism, profiled three pedophiles.

Past and Present

In 1977, the Ryerson Homophile Foundation (RHF) was founded by Doug Chin, who was a student at the time.  It was the first group ever in existence for homosexuals at the school.  Current students recognize the RHF today as “RyePRIDE”.

Courtesy of the Ryerson Archives
 

Courtesy of http://www.ryepride.ca

Shortly after the RHF came to fruition, these surveys were distributed around campus so that the needs of homosexuals in the school community could be acknowledged and accommodated.

 

Courtesy of the Ryerson Archives

 

Courtesy of the CLGA

Were the needs of homosexuals actually acknowledged and accommodated in the Ryerson community?  After the first student group for homosexuals was established, a homophobic student group called “Gaybusters- Ryerson’s Hetero Society” was formed in response to the changing dynamic of the school community that accompanied the homosexual liberation.  As well, the circulation of print in the form of editorials and other new articles often caused controversy (and still does!) over which side of the pro/anti-homosexuality divide on campus should be permitted to express their opinions.  The article below exemplifies one of many instances where a harassment complaint was filed against the Ryersonian newspaper for allowing students to publish opinions on issues relating to homosexuality on campus.  I’ve always known that prejudice towards homosexuals was something that occurs in the Ryerson community because it occurs everywhere, but having the experience of finding an old Gaybusters flyer that has been folded away and archived reminded me of how easily things can be forgotten when they stop circulating and cease to have a “public” (as mentioned on the main page).

 

Courtesy of the CGLA

Courtesy of the Ryerson Archives

POLITICS, SUBCULTURE AND LIBERATION IN THE EXTENDED RYERSON COMMUNITY

The Bathhouse Raids

The Toronto bathhouse raids of 1981 had an enormous impact on the gay community in the city and even in Canada as a whole.  On Feb 5, 1981, more than 150 Toronto police raided gay bathhouses in the city and arrested more than 300 men. The raids were organized by the government and police, essentially trying to silence the voice of  the gay community.  However, they worked in an opposite way causing mass outrage among gay and heterosexual groups, which lead towards a liberation movement.  This was not the first time an event such as this had taken place, but the bathhouse raids helped push the fight further for gay rights in Canada.

A documentary about the 1981 Bathhouse Raids:

 

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About Ryerson On Yonge

A course in the Faculty of Arts, we have been studying the history of the neighbourhood around Yonge and Dundas, and Ryerson campus, in order to consider the social context and cultural importance of the new Student Learning Centre, which will occupy 341 through 355 Yonge Street. This blog is not an official Ryerson publication, and is a student-composed analysis of campus and its neighbourhood.
This entry was posted in Coming Together at Yonge and Dundas: Liberation, Subcultures and Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Body Politic and Ryerson

  1. Pingback: Coming Together at Yonge and Dundas: Liberation, Subcultures, and Media. | Ryerson On Yonge

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