LGBT in Canada
While LGBT people live in both large and small communities throughout Canada, the largest and most prominent LGBT communities are located in major metropolitan cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa. LGBT-oriented neighbourhoods, or gay villages, such as Toronto's Church and Wellesley, Vancouver's Davie Village and Montreal's Village gai have emerged as hubs of LGBT culture and tourism.
As the Census of Canada does not ask all respondents to identify their sexual orientation, there is no exact overall count of how many Canadians identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. However, because same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since the passage of the Civil Marriage Act in 2005, census figures are published for same-sex couples. The Canada 2006 Census recorded approximately 7,500 same-sex marriages nationwide, while the Canada 2011 Census listed 21,000. However, the 2011 data only included couples living in major cities -- some additional data on same-sex couples in smaller communities was withheld from publication after Statistics Canada determined that due to data tabulation errors as many as 4,500 pairs of platonic roommates may have been incorrectly counted as additional same-sex couples. This error primarily seemed to affect smaller natural resource communities, such as development sites in the Alberta oil sands, where some people reported themselves as both married and living with a person of the same sex, but may in fact have been migrant workers who weren't married to the same person with whom they were sharing accommodation on the census date.
Pride parades have been held in various cities throughout Canada since the events of Pride Week were first held in Canada in 1981, and have also become larger in attendance as legal and cultural attitudes towards LGBT citizens in Canada are relaxed. The first pride demonstration was held in Toronto in 1981 following that year's Operation Soap by Toronto Metropolitan Police; the bathhouse raid and reaction by LGBT people is considered the Canadian equivalent of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. Edmonton Pride also evolved from the protests against a 1981 bathhouse raid in Edmonton, Alberta, although that event did not add a parade until the early 1990s. Many other Canadian cities, both large and small, have since launched annual pride events, with the largest and most prominent festivities taking place in Calgary (Calgary Pride), Ottawa (Capital Pride), Montreal (Divers/Cité and Fierté Montréal), Toronto (Pride Week) and Vancouver (Vancouver Pride).
As of 2013, at least one annual pride event takes place in every Canadian province and territory; in recent years, particularly in the 2010s, successful pride events have been launched in many Canadian cities much smaller than the traditional gay meccas. In addition to the events noted above, festivals are currently held in Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Prince George, Victoria and Whistler in British Columbia; Fort McMurray, Lethbridge and Red Deer in Alberta; Prince Albert, Regina (Queen City Pride) and Saskatoon (Saskatoon Pride) in Saskatchewan; Brandon and Winnipeg (Pride Winnipeg) in Manitoba; Belleville, Brockville, Cornwall, Durham Region, Elliot Lake, Greater Sudbury (Sudbury Pride), Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge (Tri-Pride), Guelph (Guelph Pride), Halton Region, Kingston, London, Muskoka District, Niagara Region, Peel Region, Peterborough, Richmond Hill, Simcoe County, Thunder Bay and Windsor (Windsor Pride) in Ontario; Quebec City in Quebec; Fredericton, Miramichi, Moncton and Saint John in New Brunswick; Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island; Antigonish, Halifax, Pictou County, Sydney and Yarmouth in Nova Scotia; Corner Brook and St. John's in Newfoundland and Labrador; Whitehorse in Yukon; Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories and Iqaluit in Nunavut.
In some smaller cities, pride events do not feature the parade that is a traditional part of larger pride festivals; Waterloo Region's tri-Pride, for example, currently centres around an afternoon music festival in a city park. Most pride events are held in the summer, although both Whistler and Guelph have "Winter Pride" festivals based on programs of winter recreational activities such as skating, skiing and snowboarding.
Most of the organizing committees are members of Fierté Canada Pride, a national organization that fosters collaboration between and helps to promote pride events.
Several major cities also host annual LGBT film festivals, including the Inside Out Film and Video Festival in both Toronto and Ottawa, Fairy Tales International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in Calgary, Reel Pride in Winnipeg and the Vancouver Queer Film Festival in Vancouver.
While the earliest advocacy for LGBT rights initially came from or was adopted by members of the left-wing milieu of Canadian politics, LGBT-affirmative religious organizations such as the Metropolitan Community Church played an early role in the advocacy for civil rights. MCC pastor Brent Hawkes, rector of the MCC of Toronto, became one of the earliest openly-gay advocates for LGBT civil rights in the country, and performed the first same-sex marriage ceremony in the country, eventually participating in the successful legal struggle to have it recognized by Ontario.
The issue of LGBT-affirmative policies has also become a major topic of theological and political discussion in the United Church of Canada, which now ordains LGBT clergy and performs same-sex marriage ceremonies.
On the opposite end, theological conservatives, including those who operate the Roman Catholic Church in Canada and related organizations, officially object to LGBT rights such as same-sex marriage and refuse to perform or recognize them.
Federal anti-discrimination policies apply strongly to state school institutions throughout Canada. Catholic educational institutions, on the other hand, have tended to object to these laws and have entered into controversies with provincial governments over the prevention of gay-straight alliances being formed in Catholic schools.
Canada has a significant number of LGBT-targeted media outlets.
Pink Triangle Press publishes the newspapers Xtra! in Toronto, Xtra! West in Vancouver and Capital Xtra! in Ottawa. The company also formerly published the Toronto-based magazines The Body Politic and fab. Other past and present LGBT publications in Canada have included Rites, Fugues, Wayves, abOUT, Outlooks, OutWords, Perceptions, GO Info, Plenitude and Siren, as well as a short-lived national edition of fab.
The broadcast group Evanov Communications operates CIRR-FM, a radio station in Toronto which airs a mix of contemporary hit radio music and LGBT-oriented talk programming. The company has also been granted a license to operate a similar radio station, CHRF in Montreal, which is expected to launch in 2013.
Most contemporary analysis of LGBT literature in Canada begins with three poets, Émile Nelligan, Frank Oliver Call and Elsa Gidlow. Although neither Nelligan nor Call can be definitively determined to have been gay, due to the lack of a clear biographical record of their sexual or romantic relationships, both have been extensively analyzed for the presence of homoerotic themes in some of their writing, while Gidlow wrote what is believed to be the first volume of openly lesbian love poetry ever published by a North American writer.
Nelligan suffered a psychotic breakdown at the age of 19 in 1899 and was institutionalized for the remainder of his life, and nearly all of his work was published only after his confinement. While the cause of his mental illness has been extensively debated, in recent years a number of critics and biographers have postulated that Nelligan was gay and suffered from inner conflict between his sexuality and his religious upbringing. Nelligan's poetry includes several allusions to public sex in parks, a practice much more strongly associated with the history of homosexuality than that of heterosexuality; Montreal's Mount Royal Park, the apparent inspiration for much of his outdoor poetry, was indeed known as a gay cruising spot even in Nelligan's lifetime. Nelligan was also profoundly inspired by writers, such as Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire, who openly wrote about LGBT themes. However, despite the sexual and romantic nature of Nelligan's writing, no records exist to confirm that he ever had a sexual or romantic relationship with anyone male or female.
Analysis of gay subtext in Call's writing rests especially on his 1944 poetry collection Sonnets for Youth, which contains explicit homoerotic themes and is inspired by Greek mythology including the myth of Hyacinth, although his earlier collections In a Belgian Garden and Acanthus and Wild Grape also contain numerous references to male beauty. In addition, all of Call's most explicitly sexual poetry is written in the second person, a common technique of gay writers who wish to disguise the gender of the person they're writing about. However, limited biographical information is known about Call outside of his writing itself, so his sexuality cannot be confirmed.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding their sexual orientations, both Nelligan and Call are included in John Barton and Billeh Nickerson's 2007 anthology. Seminal: The Anthology of Canada's Gay Male Poets.
Gidlow and her friend Roswell George Mills also published Les Mouches Fantastiques, the first known LGBT publication in Canadian history, between 1918 and 1920.
In 1943, critic John Sutherland published a review of Patrick Anderson's poetry in the literary magazine First Statement which suggested homoerotic themes in his writing, and accusing Anderson of "some sexual experience of a kind not normal"; Anderson was married at the time to Peggy Doernbach, and threatened to sue. Sutherland printed a retraction in the following issue. Anderson did in fact come out as gay later in life after returning to the United Kingdom in the 1950s, although he continued to treat his sexuality as a private matter, declining inclusion in an anthology of gay male literature in 1972. Sutherland later published a similar attack on Robert Finch, dismissing his poetry as the work of a "dandified versifier".
Several openly gay writers, including Timothy Findley, Michel Tremblay, Tomson Highway, Marie-Claire Blais, Douglas Coupland and Ann-Marie MacDonald, are among Canada's leading mainstream literary stars.
- "Same-sex couples are flocking to the altar, new census data reveals". National Post, September 19, 2012.
- "Census may have counted roommates as married gay couples". CBC News, September 19, 2012.
- "Looking back, moving forward". Vue Weekly, June 10, 2009.
- "World Pride in Toronto: One-year countdown begins". Toronto Star, July 3, 2013.
- "Evolution of Pride celebrations in Canada". Xtra!, June 11, 2013.
- John Barton and Billeh Nickerson, eds. Seminal: The Anthology of Canada's Gay Male Poets. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2007. ISBN 1551522179.
- Rexroth, Kenneth (1978). "Elsa Gidlow's Sapphic Songs". American Poetry Review. 7 (1), 20. (subscription required)
- "Émile Nelligan, interné parce que gai?" Désautels, January 14, 2011.
- "The First Poets, Part 1: “Gaydar Moments”. The Drummer's Revenge, October 13, 2009.
- Émile J. Talbot, Reading Nelligan. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2002. ISBN 0773523189.
- John Sutherland, "The Writing of Patrick Anderson". First Statement, 1.19 (1943): 3– 6
- John Sutherland, “Retraction”. First Statement, 1.20 (1943): cover.
- Brian Trehearne, The Montreal Forties: Modernist Poetry in Transition. University of Toronto Press, 1999. ISBN 9780802044525.