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Queers to Know

The queer community wouldn't be what it is today without the contributions of individuals, from the artists who tell their stories through music and art to the LGBT2Q+ trailblazers, community organizers and the countless number of activists who have made sacrifices to defend the LGBT2Q+ community and fight for our rights.

Queer Events created Queers to Know as a way to capture, celebrate and share the efforts and achievements of LGBT2Q+ individuals who've contributed to queer culture and history in Canada.

Queer Individuals Empowering Our Community

  • Alexandre Baril

    Activist - Author

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Alexandre Baril image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Alexandre Baril image

    Bio

    Alexandre Baril was the first Francophone trans person in Canadian history to be employed as a professor specializing in trans studies to teach on sexual and gender diversity in French.

    In 2011, Baril received the Lana St-Cyr Award from the Aide aux transsexuels et transsexuelles du Québec (ATQ) in recognition of the major role he played in organizing the first trans protest in Quebec history on June 17, 2010, in Montreal. Baril is described as one of the first trans researchers in Canada to publish work on trans issues from a transactivist perspective in the French language

  • Angela James

    Athlete

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC -Angela James

    Bio

    Angela James was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, becoming the first openly gay player,one of the first women, and only the second black athlete to ever be inducted.

    Also known as "the Wayne Gretzky of women's hockey", she amongst many other achievements led the Canadian women’s hockey team to four world championships (1990, 1992, 1994, and 1997).

    James has been a dominant force in promoting and inspiring women and young girls in sports, each year the CWHL awards the highest scoring player the Angela James Bowl. In 2009 the city of Toronto renamed her hometown hockey arena the Angela James Arena to honour her contributions and work within the local community.

  • Angela Robertson

    Activist - Editor - Executive Director

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Angela Robertson
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Angela Robertson

    Bio

    Angela Robertson is an activist working with black, women’s and LGBTQ communities. She is widely respected and recognized for implementing life-transforming programs for women in Toronto. Angela is currently Executive Director of Queen West - Central Toronto Community Health Centre. She was previously Director of Equity & Community Development at Women’s College Hospital and Executive Director of Sistering – A Woman’s Place which is an organization that offers practical and emotional support to homeless, under-housed and low-income women in the city.

    She was an editorial member of ‘Our Lives’, Canada’s first Black Women’s newspaper produced by The Black Women’s Collective and the Women’s Educational Press managing editor for five years up until 1992. In that role, she gave racialized and queer-identified women representation in the arts and politics through the publication of Canada’s first oral history of African and Chinese Canadian women. She later co-edited ‘Scratching the Surface: Canadian Anti-Racist Feminist Thought’.

    Angela has been a board member of Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention and Houselink Community Homes. She is currently a member of the Stephen Lewis Foundation boards.

  • Ann-Marie MacDonald

    Author - Actor - Playwright

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable People - Anne Marie MacDonald

    Bio

    Ann-Marie MacDonald, is a Governor General’s Award-winning playwright, novelist and broadcast journalist, is known for her literary works, Fall on Your Knees and The Way The Crow Flies.

    In December 2018, MacDonald was named as an Officer of the Order of Canada, in recognition of "her multi-faceted contributions to the arts in Canada and for her advocacy of LGBTQ+ and women's rights".

    She’s also appeared in several films including Better Than Chocolate.

  • barbara findlay

    Lawyer - Advocate - Educator

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - barbara findlay

    Bio

    barbara findlay is a lesbian feminist lawyer known for her ground-breaking equality rights cases argued at the highest court levels in Canada. She has practised as a labour lawyer, worked for the Legal Services Society doing poverty law, and has been a member of the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia.

    She is a founding member of the provincial and national queer lawyers' groups in the Canadian Bar Association, called SOGIC (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference), and has been a member of LEAF (the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund) as a board member of West Coast LEAF and as a member of the National Legal Committee.

    In 2001 she became the first openly LGBT2Q+ lawyer in Canada to be recognized with a Queen's Counsel designation.

    findlay has represented the queer community in a number of landmark cases, including same-sex marriage in BC and establishing the right of two lesbian mothers to both be registered on their child's birth certificate. She has represented a transgender woman's right to be considered a woman in Nixon v Rape Relief; a lesbian couple's complaint against the Knights of Columbus for refusing to rent them a wedding hall; and an incarcerated transgender woman's right to have sex reassignment surgery and to be housed in a facility for women.

    barbara findlay is also a grassroots advocate and legal educator for the LGBT community.

     

  • Chris Bearchell

    Activist - Journalist - Founder

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Chris Bearchell

    Bio

    Chris Bearchell is a one of the most notable people in the history of queer liberation in Canada. She began writing for The Body Politic in 1975 and for years was the only woman writing for the paper. She was also part of the founding of some of the first queer organizations in Canada.

    She was part of the first coordinating committee of GATE (the Gay Alliance Towards Equality), co-founded the Lesbian Organization of Toronto and was at the founding meeting in 1975 of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario in which she became one of its key players. In 1976, Chris became the first Chair of the Committee to Defend John Damien, a racing-horse trainer fired in Ontario in 1975 solely for being gay; the first test case that fought for the inclusion of non-discrimination against lesbians and gays in the Ontario Human Rights code. During 1978 Chris became involved in the Coalition to Stop Anita Bryant and in Lesbians Against the Right (LAR).

    One of the most notable moments of Chris' public activism was at the rally after Operation Soap. Chris inspired 3,000 angry demonstrators with her words and became involved in the Right to Privacy Campaign organized to defend the men arrested in the raids.

    "They think that when they pick on us that they’re picking on the weakest. Well, they made a mistake this time! We’re going to show them just how strong we are. They can’t get away with this shit anymore! No more shit!"

    Chris Bearchell, Feb 6, 1981, after the bathhouse raids

    In 1981 and again in 1986 she worked on the campaign to win an amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code to include non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, traveling across the province to build that campaign in 1986.

  • Courtnay McFarlane

    Activist - Poet - Community Worker

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Courtnay McFarlane
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Courtnay McFarlane

    Bio

    Visual artist, poet and manager of children, youth and adult services at Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Community Health Centre

    McFarlane was a founding member of a number of Black queer groups and organizations in the early ’80s and ’90s — such as Zami, Sepia, AYA Men — that provided voice and visibility for Black LGBTQ2 individuals and issues. This activism in many ways laid the foundation for events, organizations and movements addressing Black LGBTQ2 communities today. He has also been on the board of the Toronto Inside Out Film Festival

    He is also currently curating an exhibit at Toronto’s BAND Gallery called Legacies in Motion: Black Queer Toronto Archive Project as part of the Myseum Intersections festival 2019.  This exhibit seeks to unearth the stories of the vibrant period of political organizing and cultural activism from Black LGBTQ2 communities in Toronto in the 1980s and 1990s. Drawing its diverse exhibit materials from personal archives, which feature images, documents, videos and visual art, Legacies in Motion directly challenges the common narratives within mainstream LGBTQ communities that often render the history and contributions of Black queers as invisible and marginal.

    MacFarlan has published works in MÃKA Diasporic Juks: Contemporary Writing by Queers of African Descent by Debbie Douglas, Courtnay McFarlane, Makeda Silvera and Douglas Stewart and Plush: Selected Poems by By Sky Gilbert, Courtnay McFarlane, Jeffrey Conway, R. M. Vaughan, David Trinidad, Lynn Crosbie and Michael Holmes.

  • Dionne Brand

    Poet - Novelist - Documentarian

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Dionne Brand
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Dionne Brand

    Bio

    Dionne Brand is one of Canada's most renowned, honoured, and bestselling poets, novelist and directors. She won the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry and the Trillium Book Award for her 1997 collection Land to Light On. Her collection thirsty won the 2003 Pat Lowther Award. Her novel What We All Long For won the City of Toronto Book Award in 2006. She won the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize for Ossuaries.

    She was Toronto's Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2012, and in 2017, she was named to the Order of Canada.

    Her work often explores themes of anti-racist and anti-capitalist activism and diasporic life as well as queer relationships and erotics. In addition to being a writer, Brand is a social activist. She is a founder of the newspaper Our Lives, is past chair of the Women's Issues Committee of the Ontario Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and does work with immigrant organizations around Toronto.

  • Douglas Stewart

    Activist - Community Worker

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Douglas Stewart
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Douglas Stewart

    Bio

    Douglas Stewart is a gay rights activist and was the founding Executive Director of the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention. He works mainly within Black communities to provide awareness and support to issues around gay rights.

    Douglas has worked as an equity trainer, dispute resolution officer and as Chief Human Rights Advisor at Centennial College. He has a long history of commitment to youth development, regularly providing training and organizational development to many youth empowerment agencies such as SERVE! He has also worked with the Toronto District School Board on anti-discrimination initiatives and in alternative school programs.

    He was a founding member of Zami, the first Black queer group in Toronto. Founded in 1984 and named after an East Caribbean word for lesbian sex, Stewart was one of the first people in Canada to speak out publicly against the exclusion and racism that queers of colour faced from the overall queer community. In 1986, after The Body Politic enraged queers of colour in the community after publishing an advertisement from a white gay man who was seeking "a young, well-built BM [Black Man] for a houseboy," Stewart wrote a letter to the magazine that said racism among gay men "forces gay men like me to prioritize my concerns...Black gay activists define themselves first and foremost as Black and as gay second."

    Zami was just one of dozens of groups formed in the 1980s to combat problems from the “queer establishment."

  • Faith Nolan

    Singer - Songwriter - Activist

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Faith Nolan
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Faith Nolan

    Bio

    Faith Nolan is a singer/songwriter with a deep history of queer, women’s and anti-poverty activism. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, her parents and extended family were coal miners in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia of African, Miqmaq and Irish heritage. She later grew up in Toronto's working-class Cabbagetown. Her commitment to social justice comes from her life experiences and the people she grew up with, and she works through the cultural tool of music. Her music is her political work, a politics firmly rooted in her being working class, a woman, African Canadian and queer.

    Faith is the founder and director of three different choirs in Toronto, Singing Elementary Teachers of Toronto; CUPE Freedom Singers , the Women of Central East Correctional Centre; Sistering Singers. produced a film, Within These Cages, about women in prison; and continues to fight for a better understanding of how poverty has created a disproportionate representation of poor women, especially black and First Nations, in Canadian prisons.

  • Jamie Lee Hamilton

    Activist - Politician

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Jamie Lee Hamilton image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Jamie Lee Hamilton image

    Bio

    Jamie Lee Hamilton became the first openly transgender person to run for political office in Canada when she ran for Vancouver City Council in 1996. She also participated in Vancouver’s first Pride march. A community activist, Hamilton spent her life fighting on behalf of vulnerable populations. She was one of the first to ring the alarm bell to police and media about women going missing, and being murdered, from the city’s Downtown Eastside. Hamilton also served as a director of the Vancouver Pride Society and the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society.

  • Jessica Platt

    Professional Athlete

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Jessica Platt image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Jessica Platt image

    Bio

    Jessica Platt is a professional ice hockey player. She plays for the Toronto Furies in the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) and was the first transgender woman to play in the CWHL. Platt was the first professional female hockey player to come out as a transgender woman, and the second player in the professional women's hockey league to come out as transgender.

  • Kael McKenzie

    Judge - Advocate

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Kael McKenzie image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Kael McKenzie  image

    Bio

    Kael McKenzie (born 1971) is appointed to the Provincial Court of Manitoba making him the first transgender person appointed as a judge in Canada.

    "I didn’t set out to be a trailblazer or to try to have courage. It just happened that way."

    Kael McKenzie

    He is a member of the Manitoba Métis Nation and has also served as the Manitoba chair of the Canadian Bar Association, and president of the provincial Rainbow Resource Centre for Manitoba's LGBT2Q+ community.

  • Monica Forrester

    Activist - Community Worker

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Monica Forrester
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Monica Forrester

    Bio

    Monica Forrester is a Program and Outreach co-ordinator for Maggie's Toronto Sex Workers Action Project. Since 1999, she has worked in various agencies to educate and make services accessible for trans* folks. She actively works to promote awareness and visibility of trans women. From living and working on the streets to being  instrumental in creating a drop-in and an outreach program for transpeople at the 519 to her current work as a program coordinator for Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, Forrester has long advocated for transgender people in Toronto. She was also part of advocating for trans women to be allowed into women’s shelters and in creating policies to prevent shelters from discriminating against trans women.

  • Nik Redman

    Artist - Activist - Community Worker

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Nik Redman
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Nik Redman

    Bio

    Nik Redman is an artist, activist and community worker who was born in Montreal, Canada. Nik grew up in both Barbados and Canada.

    He is a member of the GBQ Trans Men’s’ Working Group, part of Ontario Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance; the MaBwana Community Advisory Committee, the Prisoners Justice Action Committee (PJAC) and the Trans Fathers 2B Parenting Course Project Team. Nik was one of the online facilitators for the province-wide HIV/AIDS-themed Stigma campaign. Nik currently works as a Grievance Officer with the University of Toronto’s Local 1998 United Steelworkers Union. In addition, he works doing Anti-Harassment and Human Rights Training for the Union.

    An active participant in several communities, Nik volunteers with the LGBT Youth Line, Community One and is part of the programming committee and the Board of the Inside Out Film and Video Festival. He also serves on the Board of Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP).

  • Rupert Raj

    Activist - Author - Counsellor

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Rupert Raj image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Rupert Raj image

    Bio

    Rupert Raj has a long history of working towards trans rights in Canada. Amongst his many accomplishments, he has founded three transgender publications including Canada’s first national transgender publication 'Gender Review'. He is also the founder of several trans organizations including the Association for Canadian Transsexuals (A.C.T.) in the late-1970s, when living in Vancouver, and the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Transsexuals (FACT) in 1978 while living in Calgary as a lobbying and educational organization on behalf of trans people. In June 1999 he co-founded a peer-support group for transsexual men and transsexual women at the 519 Community Centre in Toronto. Rupert has recently retired from his position as a psychotherapist at Toronto's Sherbourne Health Centre, where he worked in the LGBT Program.

  • Syrus Marcus Ware

    Artist - Activist - Educator

    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Syrus Marcus Ware
    QueerEvents.ca - Notable QIPOC - Syrus Marcus Ware

    Bio

    Syrus Marcus Ware is a visual artist, community activist, researcher, youth-advocate and educator. He is currently a facilitator/designer for the Cultural Leaders Lab (Toronto Arts Council & The Banff Centre).

    As a visual artist, Syrus works within the mediums of painting, installation and performance to challenge systemic oppression. Syrus’ work explores the spaces between and around identities; acting as provocations to our understandings of gender, sexuality and race. Syrus is part of the Black Triangle Arts Collective (BTAC), a visual arts collective dedicated to exploring disability, racial and economic justice.

    Syrus has co-edited a book chapter (with Zack Marshall) about disability, Deaf culture and trans identities in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves(2013) and co-authored "It Cannot be Fixed Because It Isn’t Broken" in Disability Incarcerated (2014), a chapter about the experiences of disability, racism and the Prison Industrial Complex. He is the author of Love is in the Hair, part of Flamingo Rampant’s 2015 book series.

    Syrus is a core-team member of Black Lives Matter-Toronto. For 14 years, Syrus has worked with Blackness Yes! to produce Blockorama (the black queer and trans stage at Pride), and other related events throughout the year. Syrus is also a founding member of the Prison Justice Action Committee of Toronto and a founding member of the Transparent-cy Working Group at The 519 Community Centre. He helped to initiate the Trans-Fathers 2B course- the first course for trans men considering parenting in North America. Syrus is also a member of the Gay/Bi Trans Men’s HIV Prevention Working Group for the Ontario AIDS Bureau and one of the creators of “Primed: A Back Pocket Guide for Trans Guys and the Guys Who Dig ‘Em”.

  • Viviane Namaste

    Educator - Author

    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - viviane namaste image
    QueerEvents.ca - notable indviduals - Viviane Namaste image

    Bio

    Viviane Namaste is a professor at Concordia University. In 2001 she received the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for her book entitled, Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People. Namaste was also a director in the documentary Madame Lauraine's Transsexual Touch which deals with transsexual sex workers as well as sexual health and clientele. In 2009, she was awarded the "Canadian Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights", which is awarded jointly by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Human Rights Watch.

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