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Contesting Identity: Politics of gays and lesbians in Toronto in the 1970s

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This article explores a particular moment in the history of Toronto's gay movement politics when the movements' ideological perspectives on the nature of gay and lesbian identities and associated spaces shifted dramatically from the so-called liberationist stance of the mid-1970s to the so-called ethnic minority approach of the late 1970s. This occurred within the context of a particular series of events that prompted gay activists to rework their conceptualization of gay and lesbian identity in order to be recognized as legitimate participants in certain pivotal, public proceedings. Far from being a well-thought-out and deliberate shift in political strategy, the ‘minority' argument was, in many ways, a reflexive and unexamined response to unanticipated circumstances. Toronto's gay activists, in representing gays and lesbians as a minority fundamentally altered meanings associated with both gay and lesbian identities and with the spaces dominated or controlled by gay and lesbian interests.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Brock University, St. Catharine's, ON, Canada

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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