Day of Silence
[“Day of Silence” by Gitgat is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

By: Jeff Baillargeon

A new project inaugurated by our publication on the Day of Silence, April 24th, What Happened on this Day in Queer History consists of a series of critical short essays paying homage to the important events that have shaped queer history in Canada.

As a form of community engagement, this initiative seeks to celebrate important cultural and political milestones, such as the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969, or the airing of the first episode of Coming Out in 1972, the first Canadian television program specifically targeted to a queer audience. While paying homage to well-known events, the project also seeks to raise awareness about the work that is done ‘behind the scenes,’ and the work that is still left to be done. In doing so, it seeks to bring to light the marginalized—or since forgotten—events formative to our history. These, for example, include the partnering of the Toronto-based AIDS Action Now!, the Montreal-based Réaction-SIDA, and the New York-based ACT UP in 1989, who, in storming the stage of the 5th International AIDS conference in Montreal to protest their exclusion from the event, were ultimately responsible for securing the presence of activist groups at future conferences. Though a celebration of triumphant moments, the What Happened on this Day in Queer History? will also shed light on the darker moments in our history that served as catalysts for greater cultural and political change within the queer community, and Canadian society more generally. These include the bathhouse raids of the 70s and 80s, and the tragic murders and assaults of countless queer individuals.

As a form of community engagement this initiative is also an invitation for the community to write back to us. The practice of writing history is always incomplete, there are always events and peoples who have been overlooked, or overshadowed. It is our hope that in extending this project to you, we can bring to light these hidden histories. If you have any moments in history you would like to see broadcast on The ArQuives’ platforms, please email them to for review.

Keep an eye out on our social media channels—there will be a few moments in our queer history shared every month!