1. The Corners

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    In the 40’s and 50’s Bay and Queen Streets were known as ‘The Corners’ – a cluster of establishments where gay men socialised. Just south of the corners was The Savarin Hotel – where pioneering gay activist Jim Egan first met Jack Nesbit, his partner for 50 years. Special thanks to David Adkin for permission to use excerpts from his documentary Jim Loves Jack: The James Egan Story (1996).

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    • 52 Division

      03:45

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      Tim McCaskell recounts the demonstrations at 52 Division to protest the violence and homophobia expressed by police at the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids. The crowds demanded police accountability to gay and other minority communities facing police harassment.

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      • AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT)

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        From this scruffy little office on the second floor of 66 Wellesley St. E., a grassroots organization grew into an institution that embraced aggressive leadership and in-your-face honesty to advocate, educate, and reach out, and stem the tide of HIV and AIDS. Watch the graphic representation of this transformation.

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        • King Edward Hotel

          02:54

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          The storied and elegant King Edward Hotel was a magnet for Hollywood stars and a discreet queer clientele. In the 1950s and 60s, the fashionable set of lesbians and gay men - passing as straight couples - would enter the mezzanine floor and go their separate ways.

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          • Toronto City Hall: 1978-80

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            In 1978, Toronto City Hall had a hiring policy of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation – unheard of at the time. When John Sewell started a conversation about basic human rights, he came under vitriolic attack from the religious right.

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            • City Park Co-Op

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              Watch how progress, development and architecture all converge into the perfect breeding ground for a queer village.

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              • El Mocambo

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                Toronto’s gritty and iconic El Mocambo, with it’s epic Rock & Roll history, was the perfect breeding ground for Vazaleen - artist Will Munroe’s influential queer rock parties.

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                • University of Toronto Homophile Association (UTHA)

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                  Philosopher’s walk, the quads and grounds were all cruising areas for young queers who attended university in the 60s – a time of activism, the civil rights movement, and political organizing. On October 15th 1969, a classified AD was placed in The Varsity, which said; “interested in organizing, …call Jerry after 5pm” from that grew the first University Homophile Association in Canada.

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                  • Community Homophile Association of Toronto (CHAT)

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                    Housed in a former synagogue, CHAT was the hub of Toronto’s gay community in the early 1970s and a point of departure for Toronto’s first Pride March in 1972. An activist caucus, Toronto Gay Action, emerged from CHAT and launched the first large-scale gay rights demonstration in Canada.

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                    • The Letros

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                      Toronto’s scandal hungry tabloid press, the likes of Tab and Hush, were obsessed with the drag balls at The Letros Tavern in the 1950’s. This attracted the attention of undercover investigators who infiltrated the tavern and published their observations in Working Papers on The Tavern: notes on the gay bar.

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