The ArQuives Digital Exhibitions

Rick Bébout (1950-2009)



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Rick Bébout (1950-2009)


Rick Bébout, born in Massachusetts, came to Canada in 1969 - a draft-dodger in spirit at age 19 if, in the end, never drafted. But he had found the right town, Toronto, falling in with a crew of artsy queers who felt they could do anything. And, without credentials or permission, they did: in a burst of civic bravado, they conceived a book to celebrate Toronto's Union Station, and then they were threatened with demolition. It was published in 1972. In time, he connected with queers who - around the same time, also without credentials, no resources to speak of, and certainly no permission - had got together to publish their own paper. It was radical; he suspected himself not"politically correct" enough to help. But lending a hand at the (then) Canadian Gay Archives put him in their midst: in 1977 they asked him to join their collective. He gave The Body Politic his entire life (well, nearly) until the end of its life, in 1987.

Many of that little rag's radicals - most notably Michael Lynch, Bill Lewis, Tim McCaskell, Chris Bearchell, Ed Jackson and Kevin Orr - went on to confront AIDS as they already had at The Body Politic. In 1986 Rick joined the staff of the AIDS Committee of Toronto - officially in fundraising if often caught up in AIDS education and community action.

He left in 1993, worn out by battles to keep ACT true to its community roots and to keep an AIDS Service Organization from killing a person with AIDS, which by 1988 he knew he was (if never a "PWA" obsessed with Identity Politics). He has spent his time since looking back on a lucky life, in online works wondering what it means to be not just "Gay" - but a citizen committed to liberation for everyone. (1998 Induction Statement)


Norman Hatton


Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives




Medium: black and white photograph

Dimensions: 34 x 27 cm (W x H)




Norman Hatton, “Rick Bébout (1950-2009),” The ArQuives Digital Exhibitions, accessed February 27, 2024,