What is a photograph?

The ArQuives celebrates 50 years of liberation and advocacy

This content was created by Xtra’s branded content team alongside The ArQuives, separate from Xtra’s editorial staff.

A photograph is a window. On who we were. On who we have become. On our future. 

Half a century ago a movement was formed. It was called Gay Liberation and its proponents in Toronto, Canada started a collective whose beliefs and policies were outlined in an outspoken publication called The Body Politic.  This collective and its publication became a voice for those who fell outside heteronormativity. The work of this collective began what is known today as The ArQuives—Canada’s LGBTQ2+ archives, now one of the largest in the world.  

James Fraser, 1981
Credit: Kyle Rae/The ArQuives

The collective and its publication have been targeted multiple times by morality squads. Infamously in 1977, the Metropolitan Toronto Police and the OPP ransacked the collective’s offices, charging the officers of the collective with mailing immoral literature. Despite the collective being acquitted of any crime, some of the materials seized in the raid were not returned until the 1990’s. 

Never again.

Metropolitan Toronto Police Force warrant for 24 Duncan Street, 1977
Credit: The ArQuives
Credit: The ArQuives

This year is The ArQuives’ 50th anniversary and to mark this milestone they have set a fundraising goal of $75,000 to grow the collection and to make LGBTQ2+ stories more widely accessible. It is in the materials of The ArQuives that our stories are told. Where our photographs and other personal materials live in the permanent record. Where we are all reminded of the protests, the heartbreak, and the joy. 

Standing here near the beginning of the 21st century with the rise of a powerful minority of voices threatening our community’s rights, we see our future presenting itself as our past. But this time it’s different. We know the course. We’ve done it before, we can do it again. We will persevere, we will flourish, for we will continue to set love free. 

Check out the ArQuives here

Alan Miller, Joan Anderson and Ed Jackson, 1979
Credit: Gerald Hannon/The ArQuives

Inside The ArQuives, our stories live as a call to action, inside The ArQuives we are all connected. This is why The ArQuives is necessary. Your support is essential because you keep our stories alive for future generations.

Please donate to The ArQuives here.