SFU Queer History: The Eighties


Spring semester: Meetings of Gays of SFU Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:30, in TC 313.

Fall semester: Weekly meetings of Gays of SFU Thursdays at 12:30, in TC 322.


August 1: Vancouver Mayor Mike Harcourt proclaims Gay Unity Week, fulfilling election promise.1

October 13: Second introductory meeting of Gays of SFU, 12:30–1:30, in AQ 5118 (the first was not advertized in The Peak). Subsequent meetings Wednesdays, 11:30–1:30, in TC 313S.


Spring semester: Gays of SFU general meetings Mondays 12:30, in CC 6125. Starting in February, office hours 1:30–2:30, Tuesday–Friday, in TC 324.

January 25: Gays of SFU change their name to Gay and Lesbian People of SFU, and petition the SFSS to redefine their status from a club to an autonomous volunteer support group. The petition also asks for permanent office space and a private phone line.2

February: A Lesbian Support Group starts up, meeting every Wednesday at 11:30 or 6:00 in the Women’s Centre.

April 5: General elections for a new executive (possibly the last regular meeting of the semester).

May 25: First (and probably only) official meeting of the summer semester, in TC 313N. It is followed on June 9 by an announcement that GLPSFU disbanded over the summer, “due to overwhelming apathy.” There is no sign of the group ever getting back together again.


January 13: The Peak invites students to be active in talking about gay/lesbian issues.3


Spring semester: Starting in February, drop-ins for Gay People of SFU, 1:30–4:30, in TC 314 (day unknown).

March 13: One workshop organized for International Women’s Day entitled “Out of the Closets, Out of the Kitchens.”4

Summer semester: Meetings of Gays and Lesbians of SFU on Tuesdays at 1:30, in TC 314.

Fall semester: Lesbian drop-in in the Women’s Centre, on Tuesdays at 11:30. Weekly meetings of the Gay and Lesbian Club Tuesdays at 1:30, in TC 314.


Spring semester: Weekly meetings of the Gay and Lesbian Club Tuesdays, 11:30–3:30, in TC 314. The club is supported, but not sanctioned by the SFSS. This means they have access to a room and a mailbox, but no funding. The reason they are not sanctioned is that the SFSS requires a list of club members which the GLC refuses to provide, to protect its members’ privacy.5

February 14: Lesbian and gay supplement, 4 pages long with 6 articles (5 of them local and one from Canadian University Press). One of the feature articles is a profile of several SFU gay/lesbian TA’s and profs, including Michael Eliot-Hurst (the only one whose real name was used).

May: The Gay and Lesbian Club changes its name to the Gay and Lesbian Association of SFU (GALA for short). Weekly meetings are Thursdays, 1:30–3:30, in TC 314S.

Fall semester: GALA weekly meetings Thursdays at 12:30, in TC 314.


January 16: First meeting of GALA at 12:30 in CC 8105, trying to find a meeting time and day for the rest of the semester. It is the only advertized meeting for the spring and summer.

February 13: The Peak prints one article on lesbian images in movies, and a lesbian/gay-themed editorial, both by the same author.6

October 2: A single ad for weekly GALA meetings (Fridays 1:30–2:30, in TC 313). It is followed by a few ads asking people interested in GALA to leave their name and number with the SFSS.

December: Canada Customs seize hundreds of books and dozens of magazines destined for Little Sister’s, Vancouver’s gay & lesbian bookstore. In May of 1987, Little Sister’s and the BC Civil Liberties Association launch their first court challenge against Canada Customs, specifically concerning the seizure of two issues of The Advocate. Though Customs admit their “error” before the case comes to court, this is no victory since the issues have long since been destroyed.

In June of 1990, Little Sister’s and the BCCLA launch their second court challenge, this time concerning not one particular book, but Canada Customs’ power of prior restraint, to seize a book at the border and then force the importer to prove the publication’s innocence. After many delays, the case finally comes before the Supreme Court of British Columbia in October of 1994. In January of 1996 the court upholds the right of Canada Customs to impound “obscene” books and material at the border, but also recognizes that Customs discriminates against gays by singling out gay material.

Little Sister’s appeals the first part of the ruling, but the verdict (which comes out in June of 1998) confirms the court’s decision.

Next stop: the Supreme Court of Canada.7


February 5: Lesbian and gay special issue: 8 articles, 6 of them local, including a piece on Little Sister’s harassment by Canada Customs, and a review of the movie “Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community”. In one article, GALA director Lance McFall admits the organization is “dormant,” and feels a permanent office would help.

Summer semester: Weekly meetings of GALA Tuesdays, 12:30–2:30, in TC 314S.

Fall semester: Weekly meetings of GALA Tuesdays, 12:30, in TC 314S.


Spring semester: GALA meetings Tuesdays and Fridays, 2:00–3:30, in TC 313S. Over the semester, membership grows from a core of 6 (who have begun meeting the previous September) to over 30.8

January 28: GALA has a table at Clubs Days, for the first time in years.9

March 3: Gay & Lesbian supplement. 5 local articles, and one from CUP on the February 6 bombing of Little Sister’s.10

Summer: GALA petitions for a permanent office, supported by PFLAG and Gay/Lesbian Outreach (among others). They are granted part-time use of an office (in room TC 303) for regular meetings and drop-ins.11

Fall semester: GALA begins publication of a newsletter. They organize 4 lectures with invited speakers over the semester, including a lecture on support services for students, with a speaker from the Counseling Centre (September 28); speakers from Metropolitan Community Church, Affirm, Dignity and Integrity (October 12); a representative from AIDS Vancouver (October 26). Regular office hours are Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:30–4:30.

October: Start of group discussion periods during office hours.

October 5: GALA executive elections. Positions to be filled: Secretary, Financial Officer, Public Relations Officer.

November: Events scheduled for the month: GALA/GLUBC dance, general membership meeting, GALA social, barhopping nights.


Spring semester: Creation of Dyke Talk, a discussion group for lesbians. GALA office hours Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:30–4:30, in TC 303. Discussion period ongoing. GALA continues to lobby for permanent space. They are also offered an hour on the campus radio station.12

February 9: Gay and Lesbian issue. It is 3 pages long and contains 8 articles (3 from CUP and 5 local, of which all but one are anonymous).

February 11: First GALA social of the semester (time and place unknown).13

May 25: A single ad in The Peak, announcing GALA will try to keep going for the summer (it seems they weren’t successful).

Fall semester: GALA office hours Monday & Wednesday (time unknown). The grassroots ads suggest low student participation.

November 9: GALA president Craig Petersen announces in The Peak that GALA is voluntarily disbanding. As primary reason, he says GALA has fulfilled its mandate, and made the campus safe for gays and lesbians. Secondary reasons are apathy, lack of volunteers and low participation, making the job of running GALA more difficult.14

November 16: The Peak runs a letter from the recently-formed Sexual Freedom Union. Its stated goal is to “address issues of sexism and sexuality at Simon Fraser in order to support respect on behalf of the sexes, sexual orientations, and safe sexual practices.” Instead of giving personal help to individuals, the Sexual Freedom Union “intends to raise the issue of sexual freedom in the public forum in a public way.”15


  1. Flaunting It!, p. 242
  2. Peak, February 3, 1982, p. 3. A copy of the petition text (courtesy of Ron Dutton) can be found in the Out on Campus archives. Since a centre was never mentioned again by subsequent groups, I’m assuming the petition failed.
  3. Peak, January 13, 1983, p. 10
  4. Peak, March 8, 1984, IWD supplement p. 7
  5. Peak, February 14, 1985, lesbian & gay supplement
  6. Peak, February 13, 1986, pp. 7, 12–13
  7. For more on the Little Sister’s court case, see Restricted Entry: Censorship on Trial, by Janine Fuller and Stuart Blackley. More recent news can be found on the Little Sister’s Web site.
  8. Peak, March 3, 1988, Gay & Lesbian supplement. Also, Vice-President Craig Petersen corresponded extensively with other Vancouver gay/lesbian groups during his involvement with GALA. A large part of these letters (sent and received) are kept in the Rainbow Room archives.
  9. Peak, March 3, 1988, Gay & Lesbian supplement.
  10. Little Sister’s has been bombed a total of 3 times: December 1987, February 1988, and January 1992 (Restricted Entry, pp. 3, 13). In no case was anyone seriously hurt.
  11. From Petersen’s correspondence.
  12. Angles, March 1989. A photocopy of the article is available in the Out on Campus archives, courtesy of Ron Dutton
    Dyke Talk: Peak, January 31, 1991, p. 6. However, I could not find any mention of Dyke Talk (in grassroots or elsewhere) until the spring of 1990.
  13. Peak, February 9, 1989, Gay & Lesbian supplement
  14. Peak, November 9, 1989, p. 9. Petersen also sent letters to Vancouver gay/lesbian groups two weeks later, in which he failed to mention the secondary reasons for GALA‘s dissolution.
  15. Peak, November 16, 1989, p. 9.

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