Let's put more than five people in the Canadian Queer Hall of Fame

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      Kudos to the creation of a new Canadian Queer Hall of Fame, as well as to the first five inductees:  Janine Fuller, Robert Kaiser (Joan-E), Ted Northe, Mark Tewksbury, and Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

      Trudeau, a former prime minister, was named for decriminalizing homosexuality and saying the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.

      There will be an inaugural Q Ball on September 19 to raise funds for Qmunity, which will house the hall of fame. It will highlight the history and achievements of the LGBT community.

      The  announcement of the first five inductees got me thinking of other worthy recipients of this honour. Here is a list of  25 other  B.C. residents, some deceased,  who warrant serious consideration for induction into the  Queer Hall of Fame in the future. There's a comment space below for anyone to offer their suggestions—or to disagree with some of my picks.  

      Barbara Findlay: Probably no lawyer in Canada has done more than barbara findley to advance the interests of the LGBT community. She has also distinguished herself as an advocate for the trans community.

      James Egan and John Nesbit: The Courtenay, B.C. couple's  fight for same-sex pension benefits led the Supreme Court of Canada to affirm that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms recognized equality rights for gays and lesbians. It was a landmark decision.

      Murray and Peter Corren: Their list of achievements is incredible: first same-sex couple to adopt an adult child; first to challenge the ban on same-sex marriage; forced the Surrey school board to overturn a ban on children's books with same-sex parents; forced the B.C. government to change the curriculum to recognize gays and lesbians.

      Kevin Brown and Dr. Peter Jepson-Young:  They were both courageous and highly visible  champions of AIDS patients before succumbing to the disease.

      Tim Stevenson:  He was the  first openly gay person to be ordained as a minister  in a mainstream Christian denomination (United Church), and was the first openly gay cabinet minister in Canada.

      Jim Deva: One of the creators of Little Sisters Book & Art Emporium, Deva is an LGBT community leader who, along with Fuller, was at the forefront of numerous equality battles and who rallied the community in the wake of the murder of Aaron Webster in Stanley Park.

      Imtiaz Popat: He has been a pioneer in supporting gays and lesbians  of South Asian descent and those of the Muslim faith to come out and feel welcomed in the community. Popat, who hosts a show on Co-op Radio, has gained a great deal of respect for his efforts to fight discrimination, advance equality, protect the environment, and  promote peace.

      Svend Robinson: He was Canada's first openly gay MP, a tireless crusader for the downtrodden, a peace  and environmental activist,  and pushed to amend hate-crimes legislation to include attacks based on a person's sexual orientation.

      Jane Rule: She was a teacher, author, activist, and role model for lesbians. She also helped defend Little Sisters Book & Art Emporium when it was under attack from Canada Customs.

      Alan Herbert: A former NPA city councillor, Herbert can always be counted on to challenge homophobic religious extremists and fight for equal rights. He has been a champion of  Vancouver's entertainment district, the Pride parade,  and for creating spaces for gay people to gather.

      Ellen Woodsworth: In her second term on Vancouver city council, Woodsworth has really demonstrated her tenacious side, fighting for tenants, seniors, the aboriginal community, and the arts community. She is one of the hardest working politicians in the city and the first open  lesbian elected to Vancouver city council.

      Gordon Price: Vancouver's first openly gay city councillor, Price will be a controversial choice for some who still resent his efforts to move sex-trade workers out of the West End in the 1980s. During those same years, however, Price helped create AIDS Vancouver and worked hard to save gay men's lives by promoting greater awareness of the disease.

      Jamie Lee Hamilton:  The transgender activist  would be another controversial choice because she has never been afraid to criticize those she disagrees with—including  Price and other high-profile members of the LGBT community. However, she has worked ceaselessly on behalf of sex-trade workers and has become a role model for two-spirited aboriginal youth. Put her in the Canadian Queer Hall of Fame so she'll be remembered long after she's gone.

      Bill Richardson, Karen X. Tulchinsky, and Colin Thomas: Okay, there's perhaps a little bit of bias here because each has contributed to the Georgia Straight at different times over the years. It's indisputable that  all three  writers have enriched our community in untold ways. Richardson has delighted listeners of CBC Radio and charmed readers of his books for many years. Tulchinsky has written screenplays for  TV and movies, as well as  several books, including The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky.  The Vancouver Public Library selected it in 2008 for the prestigious One Book One Vancouver designation.  Thomas has been the theatre critic of record in Vancouver for longer than I can remember. He has always tried to use his reviews as a platform for improving theatre in Vancouver—even if some of the people on the receiving end weren't in the mood to read what he had to write. All three are worthy of recognition  in the Canadian  Queer Hall of Fame.

      Libby Davies, Bill Siksay,  and Hedy Fry: All three MPs have always been powerful advocates for equal rights regardless of a person's sexual orientation. Trudeau might have been the one to say the state should stay out of the bedrooms of the nation. Davies, Siksay,  and Fry have done their best to ensure that Trudeau's wish came true.

      Mary-Woo Sims: During her tenure as chief commissioner of the B.C. Human Rights Commission, she was a relentless advocate for public education about human rights and for  equality for gays, lesbians, and transgender people.  An out lesbian, she  has won several awards for her advocacy work.

      Romi Chandra and Spencer Herbert: They're probably too young to get admitted into the Hall of Fame now, but the gay couple should be a shoo-in in the future, perhaps after they pass the age of 50. Chandra pioneered the creation of gay-straight alliances in the schools; Herbert, the NDP MLA for Vancouver-West End,  is still in his 20s yet he has already become an important role model for young gays and lesbians and a champion of equal rights for transgender people.



      Andre Beaucage

      Sep 12, 2009 at 7:50pm

      How about Chris Morrissey? She has single handedly helped hundreds of gay couples stay together and she is a pioneer of queer rights in Canada and around the world!!

      Doug Ragan

      Sep 12, 2009 at 8:29pm

      I agree it is great the the hall of fame was established. I have to disagree on one point -- I think that Romi and and Spencer would be excellent candidates. Romi and Spencer have done outstanding work in the community, and Spencer has been elected and does equally great work as an MLA. Age should have nothing to do with it.

      Paul Therien - Chair and Founder, Q Hall of Fame

      Sep 12, 2009 at 9:58pm

      The suggestions are great ones! Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

      At Q Ball we will be inducting five very deserving people this year, but we also acknowledge that there are segments of our community that are not represented this first year.

      As we move forward lets all remember that this is a national hall of fame. There are likely hundreds if not thousands of very deserving Canadians - and we recognize that. The Q Hall of Fame wants our future inductees to be nominated by the community. To achieve that we will be asking the community to engage themselves in the nomination process from across Canada.

      We anticipate launching the public nomination process in the near future as we prepare for 2010 and are encouraging everyone from across Canada to participate in helping the Hall of Fame select its inductees for the coming years.

      Please stay tuned to the formal launch of the website: www.qhalloffame.ca (currently hosted on the QMUNITY website) to find out more about the nomination process.

      Again, thank you for the thoughtful and well constructed list of these 25 outstanding British Colombians.

      Hamish Copley

      Sep 13, 2009 at 2:04am

      Elsa Gidlow? The poet was only in Canada during her youth, but she was writing openly-lesbian and articles on gay liberation poetry in 1917 (!).

      Loads of other poets, starting with Frank Oliver Call. Never officially out, but he did publish a collection of his homoerotic verse (some of it published as early as the 1920s) in 1944.

      Not exactly a role-model, but for sheer audacity there's Nicholas Daussy, seigneur de Saint-Michel. He was an officer in the French colonial troops. In 1691 he was convicted of sodomy for having "debauched many men," but he knew the legal system so well that he was able to play an automatic death penalty into a slap on the wrist.

      (Alexander Wood did the same thing in 1810, and in 1838, George Herchmer Markland did the same - neither was charged with anything though "sodomy" carried an automatic death penalty until 1869.)

      Of course, there are Two-Spirits like Ozawwendib, son of an Ojibwe chief -- or Kaúxuma Núpika, who declared his sex to be male and took a wife, though he was female-bodied.

      Of course, this is an area we've only begun to research. I've made a good start at my website (http://thedrummersrevenge.wordpress.com/histories/), but there's still so much out there we haven't really broken the surface of.


      Sep 14, 2009 at 10:27am

      I gotta say, that's a pretty bang on list coming from a newspaper that calls itself "The Straight." You're lacking at least one very important person though:

      Joe Arvay. Truly the unsung hero of our legal battles. He was the lawyer that fought the Egan case, the Little Sisters case, the Surrey book ban case AND part of the marriage case.

      Charlie Smith

      Sep 14, 2009 at 11:20am

      I think Joe Arvay is a worthy person. I thought of him and Shelagh Day, who certainly warrants serious consideration. Shelagh has done exceptional work highlighting how our legal system discriminates against poor women in general, and poor single mothers in particular.

      Nice Vancouver Guy

      Sep 16, 2009 at 11:59pm

      Tim Stevenson? Spencer Herbert? Ellen Woodsworth? All of these people are weak and out of their depths for the positions that they hold. Stevenson and Woodsworth are the weakest membersof the current council. Not many in the gay community, except the minority who are die hard leftists, see them as efficteve in the least bit. Spencer Herbert is a media slut who is not even taken seriously by his fellow NDP caucus members. Another grandstander like Trendy Svendie.

      Q Hall of Fame

      Mar 8, 2010 at 12:34am

      Hi All, The nomination process has been officially launched. We have received 3 nominations to date, but are hoping for many more! Please take some time to nominate your hero's!!