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Gay Premises: Radical Voices in the Archives, 1973-1983 
Exhibit opening June 14, 2013 at The ArQuives
Gay Premises: Radical Voices in the Archives, 1973-1983 looks at the ways in which The Body Politic (TBP), a Toronto-based gay newspaper (1971-1987), became a dominant voice in the body politics of the LGBTQ+ communities in Canada. On the 40th anniversary of the founding of The ArQuives (The ArQuives), the exhibition has been envisioned as a way to think about the significance of the radical politics that shaped the archive’s origin and affects its future. In providing ways to engage with the political bodies that participated in the ‘gay’ liberation movement, the project seeks to broaden and complicate the record by retrieving traces of the diverse queer populations that were active across Canada. The premise of the exhibition is that a diversity of men and women participated in the Gay Liberation Front, Women’s lib, feminists, Socialists, activists and writers came together, argued, raised collective consciousness and chose separate paths. Their writing, photographs, songs and protest rallies were the many voices of collective action. Sometimes fierce, other times collaborative, these young people radicalized their peers and effected generational change.
The focus of the project is on the period from 1973 to 1983, which begins with the formation of the archives and ends with application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (passed 1982). The documents and images are drawn largely from their complete holdings of TBP (established 1971) and the wide collection of radical press periodicals held by The ArQuives. A gay premises, the archives was vulnerable to raids and repressive laws. Broadening the understanding of the topics discussed and the forms of consensus and decision making about what to print and when, the project reveals the fabric of the everyday in a visual and tactile fashion.
The curated display features original submissions, photographs, posters, cartoons and news items from activists who contributed to TBP and to other radical gay publications that formed the core of the early collection of The ArQuives. TAG TEAM: Gay Premises, is a collaborative and intergenerational art project that invites artists to contribute, intervene, and question the critical exploration of Canada’s gay liberation history and the way that GLBTQ+ histories have been promoted and preserved in the archives.