Since it's Pride Month, we're going to look into some local LGBTQ history that happened right here in Windsor. Windsor has played an essential role throughout the years regarding the queer community and its fight for equality.
So, we'll be shining a spotlight on some of the historical events that you might not be aware of, especially if you live in the Windsor area, as it's not just queer history; it's Windsor history.
Windsor has the first recorded death penalty verdict after two soldiers were discovered being intimate in 1842 at Fort Malden.
The men, 39-year-old Samuel Moore and 27-year-old Irish labourer Patrick Kelly were not executed but went to prison like many others at the time.
In 1972, Windsor's first Gay Liberation group - the Windsor Homophile Association - was started at the University of Windsor. The name changed to Windsor Gay Unity a year later, in 1973.
Canada's first Bathhouse raid happened at Etna's Steam Bath on Brant Street in 1964.
Queer men would often use bathhouses as a gathering places. When discussing queer history in Canada, the more significant raids, like the bathhouse raid in Toronto in 1981, are typically mentioned, where 150 Toronto police officers raided four local bathhouses and arrested three hundred men.
These raids sparked a series of highly publicized rallies and mass protests against the attacks.
Thirty-eight other bathhouse raids are also documented from 1968-2004 in cities like Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, and Hamilton.
But the first bathhouse raid in Canada happened right here in Windsor at Etna's Steam Bath on Brant Street in 1964, where nine men from Windsor and the states of Michigan and Ohio were charged, and owner Joseph Cepaitis was given a sentence of one year in jail.
The First Gay Rights protest in Windsor happened on October 22, 1977
Twenty-four people protested employment discrimination against gays and supported John Damien. Damien, a steward for the Ontario Racing Commission in Toronto, was outed in 1975 and fired. According to The Windsor Star, the Ontario Racing Commission finally settled the case out of court in November 1986 for $50,000.
On December 2 that year, the Ontario Human Rights Commission finally added sexual orientation to the human rights code.
In 1982, the first reported case of AIDS and the first reported gay person to die of AIDS in Canada was reported in Windsor.
In 1990, Windsor also opened the first group home for people living with AIDS in Canada.
In 1992, Windsor Pride was founded and held its first festival.
Windsor Pride celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2022.
In 2003, saw Harpern vs. Canada.
Hedy Halpern and Colleen Halpern successfully sued the Canadian government with seven other couples to recognize same-sex marriage. As a result, same-Sex Marriage bill C-38 would pass in 2005.
In 2012, Dr. Kael Sharman became the first Trans man to formally ask the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) to have his name and gender marker changed.
In 2016, all GECDSB High schools flew the Rainbow Pride Flag for a week during Pride Month.
There's a lot of rich LGBTQ history right here in Windsor. There's a lot more the read up on, so this month, take some time and learn about all the ways Windsor played a part in queer history in Canada.
Windsor Essex 2SLGBTQ Timeline | About (wepridefest.com)
Canada's First Gay Bathhouse Raid: Windsor, 1964 – Active History
Jarvis: 'I think people stood up and said, 'I have worth' | Windsor Star