SFU Queer History: The Seventies



March: The Peak publishes an eight-page gay supplement entitled “Gay Liberation”. It was produced by members of the Vancouver Gay Liberation Front (formed in November 1970).1

March: An unsigned article, entitled “Homosexuality and the Academy: from Closet Queens to Gay Chauvinists”, is published in The Bridge, the magazine of the Alumni Association of SFU. It was written by a gay graduate of SFU and recounts his experiences there.2

November 24: The Peak publishes a letter to the editor responding to a sexist and homophobic article that had appeared the previous week. The letter is signed “A GAY LIBERATIONIST”. Here is an excerpt:

The nuclear family is antiquated, and we of Women’s and Gay Liberation are actively working to killit[sic], or at least, to make people more aware of alternative family structures[…]3

December 8: Another letter to the editor, responding to the same article, this one from GATE-Vancouver. GATE (Gay Alliance Towards Equality) was founded in May of that year. The first issue of its newspaper, Gay Tide, came out in August 1973.4


February 7: First publicized meeting of the SFU Gay Student Union. Their article, published in The Peak five days before, generates negative responses from apolitical homosexuals, who reject the GSU‘s militant stance. The GSU meets at least once more, on February 21.5

June 7: Two members of the Canadian Gay Activists Alliance (a breakaway group from the Vancouver Gay Liberation Front) speak on homosexuality before 150 kinesiology students, during a “Contemporary Health Issues” program sponsored by SFU.6

June 30–July 2: First annual Vancouver Gay Pride Celebrations.7


October 10 (Toronto): Toronto City Council passes a resolution banning discrimination in municipal hiring on basis of sexual orientation. It is the first such legislation in Canada. The second city to pass a similar resolution is Ottawa, in April 1976.8


April: Geography professor and Geography Department chairperson Michael Eliot-Hurst publicly comes out.9

June: Eliot-Hurst suffers a nervous breakdown and is hospitalized for a short time. When he returns, he finds out the department wants to remove him as chairperson, for administrative incompetence. A petition was circulated to that effect among faculty (and failed).10

Fall semester: Gay People of SFU start up, with help from Michael Eliot-Hurst. They have the support of the Simon Fraser Student Society.11

November: GATE-Vancouver files a complaint against The Vancouver Sun with the BC Human Rights Commission. The previous December, the Sun had refused to print a classified subscription ad to Gay Tide. This is the first public hearing of a gay civil rights case under provincial human rights legislation. The Board of Inquiry rules in January 1976 that the BC Human Rights Code does protect homosexuals, but the Vancouver Sun appeals. The case eventually comes before the Supreme Court of Canada (another first for gay civil rights cases) which rules in May 1979 that the Vancouver Sun was justified in refusing to print the ad. But in November the Sun reverses its stand, and accepts ads from Gay Tide.12


Spring: Gay people of SFU co-sponsor a talk by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, co-founders of the Daughters of Bilitis and co-authors of “Lesbian/Woman.”13

March: GPSFU participates in Open House, where they set up an information booth with a sound/slide sequence, books and pamphlets.14

March: Eliot-Hurst is hospitalized again, and placed on leave from administrative duties by university president Pauline Jewett.15

Summer semester: Weekly meetings of GPSFU in AQ 5017, Tuesdays 3:30.

May: Eliot-Hurst is recovered, but is not allowed to come off medical leave in spite of a letter from his physician.16

May 27: David Jacobs, a member of GPSFU, presents a brief to the Green Paper Immigration hearing on behalf of the group, to call for dropping all references to homosexuality in the Immigration Act. GPSFU was one of many gay groups all over the country making similar presentations that year. The new Act, without references to homosexuals, goes into effect on April 1, 1978.17

July 2: First meeting of a lesbian drop-in in the Women’s Centre. The drop-in is organized because GPSFU is overwhelmingly male.18

July 9: Peak gay supplement. It is 4 pages long and contains 10 articles (6 of them anonymous), as well as a short directory of Vancouver gay organizations.

August 15: Michael Eliot-Hurst is reinstated as chairperson of the Geography Department, two weeks before his term is to expire.19

Fall semester: Weekly meetings of GPSFU Tuesdays, 12:30, in AQ 5004.

October 9: Blue Jeans Day. Gay people are encouraged to stand up and be counted by wearing blue jeans. It serves also as a consciousness-raiser for straights, many of whom choose not to wear blue jeans that day.

GPSFU also presents a forum with featured speaker Doug Wilson. Wilson, an openly gay graduate student at the University of Saskatchewan, had been denied a supervisory position the previous month solely because of his public involvement with the Gay Liberation movement.20


Spring semester: Weekly meetings of GPSFU Mondays 2:30–4:30, in TC 314N.

Spring (Halifax): CBC Radio
refuses to air a Public Service Annoucement from GATE for a Gayline and counselling service.21

Summer semester: Weekly meetings of GPSFU Mondays, 2:30–4:30, in TC 314N.

Fall semester: Weekly meetings of GPSFU Mondays at 2:30, in TC 314N.

November 16: The Peak runs an article written by Gary J. of GPSFU, on the different ages of consent in Canada. At that time, the ages of consent for heterosexual relations were 14 or 16, depending on the situation, and 21 for homosexual relations.22

December: Canadian University Press approves a national boycott of the CBC.23


Spring semester: Weekly GPSFU drop-ins Mondays 12:30, in
TC 314N.

February 19: GATE-Vancouver organizes a demonstration outside the CBC‘s Vancouver studios to protest its policy of denying gay organizations the right to have their PSA’s put on the air. Other protests, organized by the twenty-months-old National Gay Rights Coalition, take place simultaneously in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg.24

February 22: First edition of Gayspeak, a Peak column on gay issues. It has GPSFU identifying themselves, their mandate, and the reasons for starting Gayspeak.25

March 11: Second Gayspeak: a reprinted article from Gay Tide, linking oppression of gays with oppression of women.26

March 22: Third Gayspeak, on gays, therapy, and the entrenched homophobia in the psychiatric establishment.27

April 6: Fourth and last Gayspeak, reporting on police crackdowns and mass arrests of gay people at beaches, parks and clubs. Police would use entrapment, blackmail, and selective enforcement of soft drug laws.28

Summer semester: Weekly GPSFU meetings Mondays 12:30, in TC 313.

June 29: A Gallup Poll shows 52 percent of Canadians believe gay people should be protected against discrimination under the new Canadian Human Rights Act.29

Fall semester: Weekly GPSFU drop-ins Mondays 12:30–4:30, in TC 313.

October 24: The Peak conducts a public opinion poll about the CBC and Vancouver Sun bans on gay PSA’s. Of the 10 students whose answers were published, 3 were in favor of the bans and 7 were opposed.30

December 30 (Toronto): Members of Operation P, a joint Toronto-provincial pornography squad, raid the offices of The Body Politic, a bimonthly gay community newspaper in existence since 1971. They seize twelve packing crates of material including subscription lists. The raid is provoked by an article in the latest issue of TBP entitled “Men Loving Boys Loving Men,” on adult-child relationships.

Pink Triangle Press (TBP‘s publishing corporation) is charged under section 164 of the Criminal Code (“use of the mails to transmit immoral, indecent and scurrilous material”), but acquitted in February 1979. The Crown appeals, and PTP is forced to undergo a second trial, only to be acquitted again in June 1982. The Crown appeals again, but this time the appeal is rejected. The last of the material seized in the 1977 raid is returned to The Body Politic only on April 15, 1985.31

The Peak runs a total of five articles from January 1978 to February 1979, all in support of The Body Politic. One of them (in March ’78) contains a condensed version of “Men Loving Boys Loving Men”, so that readers can form their own opinion on the article.32


Spring semester: Gays of SFU weekly meetings Wednesdays, 12:30–1:30, in TC 313.

June 14: A four-page Peak gay supplement. It contains five articles (all of them signed), including one on lesbianism, a coming out story, and a refutation of anti-gay Biblical arguments.

Fall semester: Gays of SFU meetings in TC 313: first Fridays, 1:30–3:30; then Thursdays; later, 2 days a week.

November 27 (San Francisco): Openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk is assassinated along with gay-positive mayor George Moscone, by former supervisor Dan White. The death of the well-loved Milk leaves San Francisco’s gay community in a state of shock.33


Spring semester: Gays of SFU meetings Tuesdays, 1:30, in TC 303.


  1. Lesbian And Gay Liberation in Canada, p. 64. Strangely, I have not been able to find this supplement in the Peak archives.
  2. LGLC, p. 64
  3. Peak, November 24, 1971, p. 23
  4. Letter: Peak, December 8, 1971, p. 10
    About GATE: LGLC, p. 69
  5. From the GSU: Peak, February 2, 1972, p. 15; February 16, p. 11.
    Reader responses: February 23, p. 22; March 1, p. 22; March 20, p. 4
  6. LGLC, p. 100
  7. LGLC, p. 102
  8. LGLC, p. 141
  9. Peak, June 18, 1975, p. 3
  10. Peak, June 18, 1975, p. 3
  11. Peak, July 9, 1975 (gay supplement)
  12. Flaunting It!, pp. 229, 230, 231, 232, 233, 236, 238.
    Peak, July 9, 1975 (gay supplement)
  13. Peak, July 9, 1975 (gay supplement). More on the Daughters of Bilitis.
  14. Peak, July 9, 1975 (gay supplement)
  15. Peak, June 18, 1975, p. 3
  16. Peak, June 18, 1975, p. 3
  17. Peak, July 9, 1975 (gay supplement). Also FI, pp. 201, 230, 247
  18. Peak, July 9, 1975 (gay supplement)
  19. LGLC, p. 166
  20. Peak, October 8, 1975, p. 9; October 15, p. 6; LGLC, p. 238. Posters advertizing the two events, as well as a draft of the October 15 Peak letter, can be found in the Out on Campus archives (courtesy of Jean-Philippe Wilmshurst)
  21. FI, p. 230
  22. Peak, November 16, 1976, p. 5. For a more current (as of 1997) state of the Criminal Code, see the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives
  23. FI, p. 231
  24. Peak, February 22, 1977, p. 1
  25. Peak, February 22, 1977, p. 3
  26. Peak, March 11, 1977, p. 6
  27. Peak, March 22, 1977, p. 13
  28. Peak, April 6, 1977, p. 7
    This was a country-wide pattern. I found mention of no fewer than six mass arrests in gay bars or bathhouses over the 70’s and early 80’s in Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton and Ottawa (FI, pp. 229, 231, 233, 238, 241, 273–294). Most charges are usually dropped, but the owners are fined and some patrons may have their names published in the press.
    Though this form of harassment against the gay community tapered off in the early-to-mid-80’s, it never completely ceased, and the “bawdyhouse” laws were still in the books as of June 1997. See the Victories & Defeats chronology for some additional developments.
  29. FI, p. 232. For more information, see the section on historical poll results on the EGALE home page
  30. Peak, October 24, 1978, p. 5
  31. FI, pp. 233, 235, 236, 238, 241, 243. See also the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives for the end of the Body Politic story
  32. Peak, January 17, 1978, p. 6; March 3, p. 14; September 22, p. 2; January 16, 1979, p. 7; February 16, p. 1
  33. More on Harvey Milk.

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