The ArQuives Digital Exhibitions

Community Diversity

Creating Space for All Members of the LGBTQ Community

Toronto is and was often viewed as an open and queer-friendly city ever since the gay liberation movement began in the 1960s; however, this was not always the case for people who did not fit into the mainstream image of the LGBTQ community. Many people were—and still are—marginalized and discriminated against within the predominantly white LGBTQ community based on their racial or cultural identities. As a result, the issues they faced throughout history were often minimized as the mainstream activist groups did not recognize their concerns. Various community groups such as Zami (the first Canadian group for Black and West Indian gays and lesbians), ACAS (the Asian Community AIDS Services), and Salaam: Queer Muslim Community were founded to provide support to marginalized members of the community whose needs were not being addressed by the mainstream organizations. These groups provided safe spaces where participants could participate, be heard, and freely explore their identities both culturally and regarding their sexuality and/or gender identity.

The following interview excerpts discuss issues of racism and community solidarity in Toronto.

Interview with Douglas Stewart on LGBTQ+ activism in 1970s-1980s

Click to watch an interview with Douglas Steward as he discusses his role in late 1970s- early 1980s activism in Toronto, including working with groups Zami and Reunite Africa Youth (RAY).

Interview with Dr. Allan Li on the AIDS response, racism and barriers, and the founding of ACAS

Click to watch an interview with Dr. Alan Li on the AIDS response, racism and barriers, and the founding of ACAS (Asian Community AIDS Services).

Suhail Abualsameed discusses Salaam, a SOY Newcomer Program for Queer Muslims

Click to watch an interview with community development worker Suhail Abualsameed discussing the experiences of immigrant LGBT individuals, particularly Muslims, in Toronto and his work with Salaam (Queer Muslim Community), and SOY (Supporting Our Youth) and the impact the two groups have had on individuals new to the LGBTI community in Toronto.

El-Farouk Khaki on Equal Families

El-Farouk Khaki, lawyer representing LGBT, women and HIV AIDS postive refugees, relationship recognition and refugees/ immigrants and Campaign for Equal Families and demonstration against the defeat of bill 167, 1994.