Saturday, December 18, 2004

Gay History Tidbits

I've been reading The Regulation of Desire: Homo and Hetero Sexualities by Gary Kinsman, a history of the social regulation of sexuality that gives particular attention to Canada. Here are a few interesting facts I have learned:

  • It is fairly commonly known that the modern gay and lesbian liberation movement was sparked in 1969 by the Stonewall riots, resistance to a police raid on a gay bar "ignited by Puerto Rican drag queens, bar dykes and street people." But that was hardly the first time such resistance had occurred: Kinsman quotes historian Alan Bray as writing that when "a molly house [the slang term for the functional equivalent of a gay bar in urban England at that time] in Covent Garden was broken up in 1725, the crowded household, many of them in drag, met the raid with determined and violent resistance."

  • The first official record of same-gender erotic behaviour among the colonizers in what later became known as Canada was a judicial document talking about a man in New France being convicted for engaging in such activities in 1648.

  • In 1838, just after the Upper Canada rebellion, George Herchmer Markland, Inspector-General of Upper Canada, was forced to resign for engaging in sex with other men.

Don't learn any of that in high school history, now do we?

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