Iâ€™ve just returned from the first meeting of the Accidental Community project. There was a photo slideshow by local artist John Kozachenko, a very brief overview of the history of gay menâ€™s communities in the West End, Q & A and interactive discussion, and a look at future directions for the project. Fascinating stuff. I learned that the man after whom Davie Street was namedâ€”Alexander Edmund Batson Davie, 8th Premier of B.C.â€”was rumoured to be gay, though he had a wife and children. But apparently he hung out with gay people who, upon his death, started a social club in his honour and renamed the street after him. The articles I could find online donâ€™t elaborate on just what kind of social club this was.
I was invited to this meeting by one of the project members, whoâ€™d contacted me a couple of months ago via my queer history project, looking for leads for his research (unrelated to mine, but it never hurts to ask). Unfortunately, I couldnâ€™t really help him, since I havenâ€™t kept in touch with the one person I interviewed and all my other sources are publicly available. Still, Iâ€™m enormously flattered that my little project got his attention in the first place.
In addition to some cool history, another thing I got out of this meeting was how disconnected I am to the West End, living way the hell out in the suburbs. True, there are advantagesâ€”itâ€™s much cheaper to live out here, and I do have some (non-gay) friends nearbyâ€”but maybe Iâ€™m missing out on more than I realise. Years ago I voluntarily severed almost all ties with queer communities; Iâ€™ve since eased some of the way back in, and only recently have I realised what a mistake that self-imposed exile was. Where to go from here, though? Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ll have to figure out.