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Nancy Nicol Biography

Nancy Nicol (1951- )

National Portrait Collection portrait of Nancy Nicol. Inducted in 2011.

Nancy Nicol (Professor Emeritus, School of Media, Arts and Performance, York University) is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work is grounded in the tradition of artist as activist, probing issues of human rights, social justice and struggles for social change. Nicol’s research, writing and creative projects include video art and documentary and critical writing in LGBTIQ+ human rights and social movements in Canada and internationally. Nicol’s works are screened widely in national and international festivals, human rights conferences and community-based organizations. From 2011 to 2016, Nicol led a large international research and participatory documentary project: Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights, funded by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada SSHRC. A partnership of mutual learning, the project brought together 31 community-based partners based in Canada, Africa, the Caribbean and India. Employing participatory documentary, participatory action research and legal research and analysis, Envisioning researched, documented and analyzed criminalization and human rights violations, contemporary movements to resist criminalization and advance LGBTIQ+ liberation and rights in the Commonwealth, as well as issues faced by LGBTIQ asylum seekers in Canada.

Between 1979 and 2010, Nicol created over 30 films; and from 2011 to 2016, she produced and directed and/or contributed to an additional 60 feature-length documentaries and video shorts as part of the Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights project. Recent documentaries include: Sangini (2016, directed by Nicol, Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights in partnership with Sangini, a shelter for LBT people in Delhi); And Still We Rise, (2015, directed by Lusimbo and Nicol, Sexual Minorities Uganda and Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights), a moving documentary on resistance to the Anti-Homosexual Act (AHA) in Uganda; No Easy Walk To Freedom (2014, directed by Nicol in partnership with Naz Foundation India Trust, Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights) on the struggle to decriminalize ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ in India; The Time Has Come / Ha Llegado El Momento / Le Moment Est Arrivé (2013, produced by Nicol, Vance, Fisher, Kara; directed by Vance, Fisher and Kara, ARC International and Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights) features LGBT human rights defenders from around the world on ways to strengthen protections under the historic United Nations resolution that recognized sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds for discrimination in 2011; and Telling Our Stories: 36 video portraits created by Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights partners in the Caribbean, Africa and India, edited by Nicol and Siirala; premiered at Imagining Home: Resistance, Migration, Contradiction, curated by Karen Stansworth, Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, June - October 2014.

Nancy Nicol is a frequent contributor to international conferences in LGBT human rights, social movements, and art and activism. Nicol’s recent scholarly publications include: forthcoming (2017) book: Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights: (Neo)colonialism, Neoliberalism, Resistance and Hope, Nicol, Jjuuko, Lusimbo, Mulé, Ursel, Wahab and Waugh, (eds.) University of London, UK; “Envisioning LGBT Refugee Rights in Canada: Is Canada A Safe Haven?” (2015) a research report written by Gamble, Mulé, Nicol, Waugh, Jordan, and Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants; “Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights: Strategic alliances to advance knowledge and social change,” (2014) by Nicol, Gates-Gasse and Mulé, Scholarly and Research Communication, Special Issue: Community-Based Participatory Research, Vol. 5, No 3; “Sexual Rights and the LGBTI movement in Botswana,” (2013) by Monica Tabengwa and Nancy Nicol, in Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change, Corinne Lennox and Matthew Waites (eds.) London: Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, London, UK. Earlier publications include: “Politics of the Heart: recognition of homoparental families” (2009) in Who’s Your Daddy? And Other Writings on Queer Parenting, ed. Rachel Epstein, Sumac Press; “Legal Struggles and Political Resistance: Same-Sex Marriage in Canada and the U.S” co-written by Miriam Smith and Nancy Nicol, Sexualities Vol 11, Issue 6 (Sage Publications, December 2008, pp.667-687); and “Politics of the Heart: recognition of homoparental families,” (2008) Florida Philosophical Review: Journal of the Florida Philosophical Association, Vol 8, issue 1 (University of Central Florida Department of Philosophy.

Other documentaries on queer histories by Nicol include Dykes Planning Tykes: Queering the Family Tree (2011, directed by Nancy Nicol and M. J. Daniel) on the groundbreaking family planning course for lesbians and queer-identified women in Toronto; and One Summer in New Paltz: A Cautionary Tale (2008), on the civil disobedience same-sex marriage movement in the USA. In 2009, Nicol completed her award-winning series From Criminality to Equality on the history of lesbian and gay rights organizing in Canada from 1969 to 2009, which includes the films Stand Together (124 min. 2002), The Queer Nineties (90 min. 2009), Politics of the Heart (68 min. 2005) and The End of Second Class (90 min. 2006). Her work on lesbian and gay history also includes several shorts: Pride and Resistance and Proud Lives. This body of work has received many honours, including short-listed for the Derek Oyston CHE Film Prize, 23rd London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, London, UK; Elle Flanders Award for Best Documentary, Inside Out, Toronto, 2007 and 2006; Honourable Mention for Best Canadian Female Director in the shorts category, Inside Out, 2007; the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary, Image + Nation, Montréal, 2006; the Audience Choice Award, Making Scenes, Ottawa, 2002 and the John Bailey Completion Award, Inside Out, 2002. Nicol’s films, including earlier works from the 1980s, are available at Vtape.

Nancy Nicol Biography