News   Jun 14, 2024
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Gay Toronto in the 1970s

Before "Pride Day/Week" there were Gay Rights/Gay Liberation marches & protests -

Wellesley St. E., 1974 (east of Jarvis, nothing has changed here in nearly 40 years!)

1974GayMarch-1.jpg


Nathan Phillips Square, 1975

GayRightsProtestatCityHall_1975.jpg
 
I've reached peak queer. I'm totally onboard with gay marriage, trans, equal rights, treatment, protection and respect for all sexual identities and would readily defend these rights for family, friends and others to my utmost. But I'm tired of sexual identity topics dominating the media and public discourse.
So, why are you commenting ?
 
Hi my father (Derek Stenhouse) & his partner (Rene Fortier) of 25+ years were the owners of Club Manatee and then Soltarios, even though I was young when they opened the Club Manatee, I can give you some of my experiences when visiting and playing/dancing in the club from late 70's to early 80's and it's transmission into the Playground era and also when they opened Soltarios, until their both passing 1993.
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 thing...........sex. 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.
Your take off the past is really quite skewed of reality!
 
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.
I was out in the '70s. What you don't know is almost everything. You should only speak of things, that you know something about!!!
 
Just remembered...there was Maloney's for a short while...across from Women's College Hospital...big straight bar that went gay....dance place. There was also, The Bloor Street Diner when it was on Bloor (coffee and dessert after the clubs), The Cafe New Orleans corner of Yonge/St. Nicholas, and an all night donut shop on west side of Yonge just south of Wellesley, Crispins Restaurant with Buddies?? downstairs. Also, there was the bathhouse on Bay Street south of Wellesley called The Romans. There was a "Lisboa a Noite"...you went upstairs ...it was on Dundas in Little Portugal...didn't last long. You went upstairs to what looked like you'd been invited into a rec room of a Portuguese household. Neighbours in Roncesvalles tell me about when there was a gay bar for a short time in what is now Hugh's Room. Not sure if this is applicable...but there was a gay bar on Lakeshore in Port Credit for a while, in the early 1990's....tacky, but fun....it originated as "Buttons" and then became "Go West".

Just on a side note...this was before my time...mid 70's...but there was a bar down the alley beside the Manatee....you had to go upstairs ...I think it was called David's....it was shortly before my time, so never went. I also heard from older friends about "Studio" at Church and Carlton I think.
Bemelman's in Yorkville.
 
Ahhhh….The Quest. Fond memories. There was Charlie’s (upstairs disco above the St. Charles, Crispin’s restaurant (Buddies downstairs), Tanks, Manatee (I came out there), Katrina’s. Went to Lipstick on Parliament with lesbian friends. Don’t forget the leather/biker bar on Eastern….seemed so far off the beaten path lol…18 East. Stages was a great place to dance after hours.
 
Ahhhh….The Quest. Fond memories. There was Charlie’s (upstairs disco above the St. Charles, Crispin’s restaurant (Buddies downstairs), Tanks, Manatee (I came out there), Katrina’s. Went to Lipstick on Parliament with lesbian friends. Don’t forget the leather/biker bar on Eastern….seemed so far off the beaten path lol…18 East. Stages was a great place to dance after hours.

Toolbox.

AoD
 

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