Nancy Nicol

Pride and Resistance

© 2007 Intervention Video Inc. (16:50 min., DVD)
Directed and Produced by Nancy Nicol

Part Five (2000-2006)

Five three-minute shorts on Pride Day history and Politics, Toronto1971 to 2006
Commissioned by Xtra and Pride Toronto, 2007.


Pride and Resistance is a series of five three-minute videos on queer history created by Nancy Nicol. Pride and Resistance takes a whirlwind tour through forty years of local and national LGBTQ history celebrating the political history of Pride Day in Toronto.  Pride and Resistance was commissioned by Xtra and Pride Toronto and premiered as large projections on Church St. for the Pride Day celebrations in Toronto, 2007.

Drawing upon Nicol’s decade of research and work on LGBTQ history in Canada and her documentary series, Stand Together (2002), The Queer Nineties (2008), Politics of the Heart (2005) and The End of Second Class (2006), this moving and inspiring series includes appearances by many leading queer activists, including: Charlie Hill, Ken Popert, Chris Bearchell, Gerald Hannon, John Sewell, the Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes, Bob Gallagher, Douglas Stewart, Jim Egan and Jack Nesbit, Dr. Alan Li and singer / songwriter, Faith Nolan and many more.

Part One (1971-1977) Pride and Resistance: Out of the Closets, Into the Streets!

Part one captures some of the spirit of 1970s Gay Liberation politics through a montage of images including: the first demonstration in Canada by gays and lesbians (Ottawa, August 1971) organized by Toronto Gay Action, the first Toronto Pride (1972), images from the pages of Canada’s only gay liberation newspaper of the era (The Body Politics, TBP, 1971-1986), the first anti discrimination cases mounted by John Damien and Barbara Thornborrow and the 1st Gay Liberation National conference in Ottawa (1975).

“All we want to do is love persons of the same sex and live our lives as we decide for ourselves… Gay is proud. Gay is good. Let’s say it wherever we go – Gay Power!”

Charlie Hill
August 1971, Ottawa, archival footage.


“You know if every gay turned blue tomorrow and people could see who really was gay, they’d be amazed to discover how many politicians are homosexual, that are running this country.”

George Hislop (Community Homophile Association of Toronto, CHAT)
c. 1978, archival footage.

Part Two (1977-1981) Pride and Resistance: Resisting the Backlash

Part two focuses on the backlash to the emerging lesbian and gay movement in the mid ‘70s to early 80s. Anita Bryant brings her homophobic ‘Save the Children’ campaign to Canada and police repression against gay community establishments intensifies culminating in the bath raids on February 5th 1981, the largest mass arrest in Canadian history since the War Measures Act in Quebec.  The Ontario legislature refuses to pass legislation to include non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the Ontario Human Rights Code. The gay community responds with growing anger and organization.

“No longer will we stand idly by while the politicians ignore u,s the police abuse us, and the right-wing lie about us”.

Reverend Brent Hawkes (Metropolitan Community
Church of Toronto, MCCT)1981, rally to protest the
bath raids in Toronto, archival footage.


Part Three (1981-1986) Pride and Resistance: Human Rights

In the wake of the bath raids, Pride Day becomes an annual event in Toronto. The Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario (CGRO) continues the campaign for Human Rights protection and publishes a mass distribution leaflet entitled: Who are These People and What do They Want? LGBT communities of colour emerge and build organizations. In 1986, the Ontario legislature passes non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the Ontario Human Rights code.  Pride 1987, the Right To Privacy Campaign (RTPC) and CGRO lead the largest Pride Day march in Canada to date with a banner: “Rightfully Proud”.

“This campaign was part of a history and there was an opportunity here that was new and an enthusiasm to take that and run with it. That set the stage for the victory.”

Chris Bearchell (CGRO, Human Rights Amendment Campaign)
personal interview with Nancy Nicol, 2001

“The late ‘70s, early ‘80s was a time of a lot of activism. There were so many things coming together at once: race, gender and sexual orientation. Black communities and other communities of colour were also starting to gain a footing and were starting to name things like police brutality. The hunger and the need at the time and the purpose (of organizing) was visibility.”

Douglas Stewart.
personal interview with Nancy Nicol, 2001. 


“In 1982, the Pride Committee applied for a permit to host the event at Grange Park, which was next to Chinatown and apparently ran into a lot of hassle with the city council citing objections from the Chinese Canadian community. So the Pride Committee approached Gay Asians and wanted someone to be a keynote speaker for that event, and to lead the parade through Chinatown. And that was the first time that Gay Asians, Toronto organized a parade. And over twenty people actually led the parade through Chinatown.”

Dr. Alan Li,
personal interview with Nancy Nicol, 2001.

“Today we march for the first time with protection under the Human Rights code of Ontario.”

Susan Fish (Ontario MP)
1987, Pride Toronto, archival footage.


Part four (1994-1999) Pride and Resistance: AIDS and Relationship recognition

Against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis, lesbians and gays organize to win recognition of their relationships. A bill to recognize same-sex relationships is voted down by the Ontario legislature in a storm of homophobic rhetoric and the Campaign for Equal Families surrounds Queen’s Park in a huge protest. Jim Egan and Jack Nesbit win a precedent setting ruling of the Supreme Court that for the first time recognizes discrimination against same-sex couples under the Charter.  The conservatives under Mike Harris are elected in Ontario.

“But the fact of the matter is that if you don’t get political we’re going to find Canada slipping into the same black hole in which the United States finds itself, where both houses are now controlled by the lunatic fringe, religious right or political right. And we can’t have that happen in Canada. And there’s a danger that it will, unless you people get out there and get active.

Jim Egan, with his partner Jack Nesbit
1995, Pride Day, Toronto, archival footage.


Part five (2000-2006) Pride and Resistance: We March for Those Who Can’t

In 2000, CLGRO celebrates 25 years, common law same-sex relationships are given recognition and by 2005, same-sex marriage is passed into law. Pride Day becomes increasingly international and the Dyke March grows into a major event. 2006, Pride marks the day by drawing attention to the conditions facing lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people internationally – leading the march with the banner: We March For Those Who Can't .

“So I look now at the gay and lesbian community that we have and the new questions that have been brought into the dialogue, the discourse. But what we have we couldn’t have imagined having.  I don’t imagine that we imagined that it would be what it is. We saw a possibility, a glimmer, and we then just went for it!…  We’re part of the chain of generations, where we feel a parental sense, where we’ve opened some doors. And the kids have gone out and said, ‘oh we’re going to open even more doors and go out and explore it. There’s all kinds of possibilities’…  So much is possible, in terms of just being named. Now, we’ve had to fight like hell to make the possible real.”

Douglas Stewart
personal interview with Nancy Nicol, 2001.