News   Jun 14, 2024
 2.4K     1 
News   Jun 14, 2024
 1.7K     1 
News   Jun 14, 2024
 847     0 

Gay Toronto in the 1970s


Senior Member
Member Bio
May 18, 2009
Reaction score
Hey everyone -

I'm currently working on a project that involves some research about gay life in Toronto between the late 60s and the mid 80s. I'm less interested in the activist part of this history - what was achieved regarding rights, etc, and much more interested in the habits and practices of gay men in this period. What did gay men do for fun on Saturday night? How much of one's homosexuality did one show in public at this time? What did it feel like to be gay in Toronto at that time? I am doing some research at the CLGA archives and among some other avenues, but I'm really interested in hearing and reading personal stories - particularly the stuff that doesn't get recorded in archives cause it may seem unimportant or unhistoric.

I'd love to meet people so they can tell me their stories in person. And, if you do want to meet, I'll give you more information about my project (don't worry, it's nothing bad). Personal message me if you'd like to do that. Or, if you just want to reminisce, reply here!

Thanks for any help you can give me!
Well I was born in 1964 so I didn't go to my first gay club til 1982 in London Ontario.
The general population was sort of at the "what they do in their bedroom is their own affair" stage. Also the wild sex of the 1970s was over due to AIDS making the news and nobody, including the medical community, knew how it was spread. People where are scared that it could possibly be spread by mosquitos like malarai. I remember being afraid to even kiss a guy til about 1984.
The idea of "long term relationship" for 99% of gays was laughable. Gay meant one The 1970s was grotesque in terms of the gay bath house scene. In the 1970s sex was something you did with someone new every night. It was almost to the point where if you didn't go to a bath house a tleast a couple times week was considered down right anti-social. Even in the Sex, drugs, and rock n roll that was the 70s it the gay scene was seen as down right offensive. This is why there little connection between the gay and straight communities,
Also the gay ghetto was EVERYTHING. You were excited to see other people that thought the way you did, all the gay bars and bath houses and people also meant personal security. At the time a crime against a gay person was considered unfortune but rarely looked into by the police.
Maybe it was inevitable due to how sexually repressed you had to be at high school and at work and it resulted in a total catharsis but it was pretty offensive. This is also why at the begining of AIDS most people say it as "they deserved it" and frankly, a lot did. The natural consequence with screwing around with hundreds of different people and not expect no physical reprecussions. People forget that one of the reasons AIDS spread so fast and killed so quickly is that a good chunk of the guys he got it at first already a weaken immune system because they already were suffering from a sexually transmitted condition and drug use.
For someone who was born in 64, went to the first club at 18 (82) he sure knows a lot about the gay scene in the 70s. Makes you wonder.


Thank you ... I was about to say the same.

What does a 6-16 year old know about an adult's life, let alone a 'fringe' population at that time?
I don't doubt some of the stuff mentioned happened but it sounds like ssiguy2's opinion of the 1970s was shaped by something other than personal experience.

I read the similar things about the straight 70s with Studio 54 and the free love, sex, drugs, rock-n-roll of the 1960s/70s
The dead give away is the "they deserved it" and frankly, a lot did comment - I highly doubt one'd be that callous if they lived through the death of their close friends, if not lovers during the plague years.

I was NOT saying I was glad anyone got it but people should know the basics............the more bodily fluids you exchange the larger the chances of getting any disease or infection. Yes, AIDS was not yet known but it was a given that you would eventually get some form of communicable disease. There was no such thing as using a condom and using butter or Crisco for lubricant was the norm and rugs were also rampant. There are tons of things you can get with this kind of contact besides AIDS.
This why many thought that is was a consequence as all actions have them. Overwhelmingly most of society was sad about how it was killing so many regardless of being gay but at the same time also had the view that if you ball on the freeway don't complain if you get hit by a car.
Seems like an odd analogy but it works.......................people feel bad that someone dies in an avalanche when skiing or snowmobiling but not so much if you find out they were out of the marked boundaries you still feel bad but also have the view that they decided to take their chances and have to suffer the consequences.
If you are saying people in the 70s didn't know how it spread, then how does fluid exchange and using Crisco have lube has anything to do with it? Speaking with hindsight sounds great, doesn't it?

I've noticed you haven't told us how you became the expert of 70s gay mores in spite of your stated age.

Gay people didn't use condoms in much the same way straight people didn't (and still don't) because any or most STDs could be cleared up with a visit to the doctor. Herpes was the big horror story of the 70s but again like early AIDS precautions it meant you didn't have sex with someone because they had an outbreak or in the case of AIDS -they didn't look sick so...
Last edited:
Indeed, in fact they thought poppers (amyl nitrate) was the cause - and that has absolutely nothing to do with fluid exchange or Crisco.