In 1981, Toronto police raided bathhouses in the city’s gay village and arrested more than 300 men. It was at the time the largest mass arrest in Toronto’s history, but the raids were just another in a long line of police operations targeting LGBTQ2S+ people and institutions in Canada.
Thousands of people rallied in Toronto the night after the raids, demanding an end to police harassment and that the charges against the men be dropped.
The protests marked a turning point for many in the LGBTQ2S+ community: “The demonstration—that’s where I think the lights went on for so many people,” activist and former Body Politic reporter Tim McCaskell tells Xtra. “They suddenly realized, ‘Shit, we’re powerful! We can do something about this!’”