LGBTQ2S+ materials research guide: Special Collections and Rare Books

VGCC Newsletter cover, November 1983, depicting a face that is half femme features and half masc features

 Looking for archival materials or primary sources about LGBTQ2S+ experiences in British Columbia? Start your research here!

Special Collections and Rare Books (SCRB) is home to a number of archives, journals, monographs, and other resources which relate to LGBTQ2S+ communities in British Columbia (B.C.) and Canada. Some of the material is available online. The SCRB holdings contain archives of selected individuals and organizations that contributed to challenging censorship, spreading awareness, advocating tolerance and fighting discrimination toward LGBTQ2S+ communities.

The LGBTQ2S+ community has had a "continuous—if often hidden—presence in B.C. history" (KnowBC). Two-Spirit (2S) people have existed in the area known as B.C since time immemorial. Two-Spirit is a term used within some Indigenous communities, encompassing cultural, spiritual, sexual and gender identity. Different Indigenous cultures have their own variations of the term Two-Spirit, but all of these terms have historically been used to describe similar traits embodied by Two-Spirit people including gender variance, specialized work roles, same-sex attraction, and spiritual identity. Two-Spirit people were included and respected as valued community members in many First Nations, often holding revered roles such as healers, knowledge keepers, counsellors, and mediators among many others. Despite the history of repressive colonial gender and sexual norms, Two-Spirited people have continued to resist assimilative strategies and reclaim Two-Spirit roles and identities to this day.

Canada's first gay community group, the Association for Social Knowledge (ASK), was formed in Kitsilano in 1964, and was followed by other advocacy groups including the Gay Alliance Towards Equality (GATE) in 1971 and the Society for Education, Action, Research and Counselling on Homosexuality (SEARCH) in 1973. In 1973, GATE organized B.C.'s first annual Gay Pride Week, which later expanded into a major cultural festival that hosts the largest annual parade in Vancouver to this day.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s dozens of gay organizations, community centres, churches, and sports leagues sprung up in response to the special interests of the local LGBTQ2S+ community, notably the Vancouver Gay Community Centre (VGCC) which was founded in 1980 to provide meeting space, legal and medical information, and other services, including the newsletters VGCC News and AnglesAfter HIV/AIDS began devastating B.C.'s LGBTQ2S+ community, AIDS Vancouver (AV) was incorporated to provide public information, offer support services and advocate to governments. In 1990, Vancouver was selected to host the third International Gay Games. Additionally, in the arts, "high-profile activists like journalist Stan Persky and novelists Jane Rule and Anne Cameron contributed to a new sense of cohesion, maturity and visibility for the gay community" (KnowBC). In 1992 the B.C. Human Rights Act was amended to include gay community as a group explicitly protected against discrimination. In 1996, the federal government passed legislation to make it illegal to discriminate against Canadians on the basis of sexual orientation. After several court decisions, the right of LGBTQ2S+ couples to marry was enshrined in law in 2003.

Learn more about SCRB's LGBTQ2S+ materials. Each entry below provides a brief description of the materials, links to archival finding aids, Library Catalogue records, SFU Digitized Collections, or links to resources outside of SFU Library.

Why are some materials "unprocessed"?

The work that archivists do in preparing materials for research use is called “processing.” This involves:

  • identifying and describing materials
  • making the materials discoverable by creating finding aids (like these pages), database records, and other tools
  • rehousing materials in archival-standard enclosures (like acid- and lignin-free boxes and file folders)

Because we want our users to know we have relevant holdings to their research, we list and selectively provide access to our unprocessed collections.

Interested in exploring an unprocessed collection? Contact us as early as possible so we can discuss details.

Archival collections

Archive of Lesbian Oral Testimony collection

Extent: [ca. 85.69 GB of digital sound recordings and other material]
Archival finding aid: MsC-156

The Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony (ALOT) presents "online oral histories and testimony from same-sex and same-gender attracted women, inclusive of Two Spirit, queer, bisexual, and lesbian women, transmen, and others." ALOT was founded in 2010 by Professor El Chenier, Project Director and Associate Professor, Department of History, Simon Fraser University. With help from students and research assistants, assistance from staff at the SFU Library, and funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the ALOT website grew to house a vast array of revealing, insightful, and sometimes humorous interview recordings plus a well-received podcast and contributions from members of the public.

The collection consists of oral histories and sound recordings collected as a part of the ALOT project, as well as personal textual records of some of the oral history participants. Additionally, archival reproductions of the original websites that contained the original ALOT project have been created and are hosted by the Wayback Machine.

Martin Bartlett fonds

Extent: 2.2 m of textual records and other material
Archival finding aid: MsC-24

Born in Croydon, England, in 1939, Martin Bartlett grew up in Vancouver, BC when his family immigrated in 1952. He received Bachelor’s degrees in English (1960) and Music (1965) from the University of British Columbia and a Master’s Degree in Arts (1968) from Mills College, Oakland, where he studied electroacoustic music and composition with Terry Riley, Pandit Pranh Nath, and Pauline Oliveros. He was influenced by David Tudor and John Cage, having met Cage at Emma Lake in Saskatchewan in 1965. He was a founding member of the Western Front Society in Vancouver and started the music program there in 1974. He taught composition at the University of Victoria (1974-1982) and later at Simon Fraser University (1982-1992), eventually becoming the first director of graduate studies for the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU.

Bartlett took an early interest in building electronic instruments, working with Don Buchla, David Behrman and others. He also had a great passion for the music of Indonesia, and in the mid-1980s, Bartlett was responsible for bringing the Javanese Gamelan to Simon Fraser University. His own work was often collaborative and aleatoric, and he also worked in theatrical and mixed media environments. He made an important and original contribution to the development of live electronic music, devising elegant and open interactions for instrumental performers and computer-controlled synthesizer. Martin Bartlett died in 1993 of AIDS-related causes.

This fonds contains writings, notebooks, scores, computer software, photographic materials, audio and video recordings, two synthesizers, a computer and other material relating to the life experiences and creative output of Martin Bartlett.

bill bissett fonds

Extent: 1.0 m of textual records and other material
Archival finding aid: MsC-2

bill bissett is an experimental Canadian poet known for his anti-conventional and visionary style. The author of over 60 books of poetry and several thousand paintings, bissett (who deliberately does not capitalize his name) is considered to be a pioneer of sound, visual and performance poetry. While attending Dalhousie University in 1956, bissett "ran away with a preacher's son to join the circus," ending up in Vancouver in 1958 (ABC Bookworld). Although he attended UBC, he dropped out because of his desire to live as a free agent, writer and painter unencumbered by academic constraints. In 1963 he started the blewointment magazine and later launched blewointment press, which has published volumes by many experimental Canadian writers and artists. He is known for his use of a unique orthography and incorporating visual elements in his printed poetry, and his performance of "concrete sound" poetry, sound effects, chanting, and barefoot dancing during his poetry readings. He has also had large exhibits of his paintings and made audio recordings. He was the lyricist and vocalist in the Ontario band, Luddites. His work typically ranges from the mystical to the mundane, incorporating humour, a sense of wonder and sentimentality, and political commentary. bissett received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

The fonds consists primarily of manuscripts and poems,  journal entries, reviews, sketches and doodles, correspondence, paste-ups and graphics for several blewointment Press publications, and photographs of the press. SCRB only has a portion of bissett’s archive. The full bill bissett fonds can be found at York University’s Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections.

Robin Blaser fonds

Extent: 13.58 m of textual records and other material
Archival finding aid: MsA-1

Robin Blaser (1925–2009) was a renowned Canadian-American poet and author. His early life was marked by his association with Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan. They became a loose trio of gay poets at the centre of the San Francisco Renaissance of the 1950s and ’60s. Blaser was professor at Simon Fraser University, where he taught for 20 years. Blaser became mentor, friend and beloved teacher to multiple generations of writers. Blaser’s expansive poetry explores the intersections of time, nature, the power of language and its role in defining and creating human experience. Blaser was a prolific writer, completing 14 collections of poetry, 11 books of essays, an opera libretto, and several works of translation. Blaser’s most famous poem, “Even on Sunday,” written for the 1990 Gay Games in Vancouver. He became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2005 and received the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize in 2006.

The fonds consists of correspondence, written works and published materials by Blaser and other writers, photographs, and other records accumulated by Blaser during his lifetime. Records include poems, journals and notebooks, book manuscripts, essays, audio and video recordings of poetry readings, personal and financial records, teaching materials, genealogical records, collected publications and articles, and conference and promotional material.

Anne Cameron fonds

Extent: [ca. 16.5 m of textual records and other material]
Archival finding aid: MsC-13 [unprocessed]

Anne Cameron (1938–2022) was a queer B.C. writer and was the author of several volumes of fiction, poetry, and children's stories, and scripts for television and film (published under the name Cam Hubert). Although controversial, her novel Daughters of Copper Woman, in which Cameron (a settler) provides a retelling of Nuu-chah-nulth stories, is one of the top selling B.C. books published by a B.C. publisher. In 2010, Cameron received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for B.C. literature. 

This unprocessed fonds consists of the literary papers of Anne Cameron. Records include manuscripts, ephemera, photographs, news clippings, correspondence, periodicals, notebooks, and floppy disks.

Wayson Choy fonds

Extent: [ca. 6.5 cm of textual records and other material]
Archival finding aid: MsC-56 [unprocessed]

Wayson Choy (1939–2019) was an influential Chinese Canadian novelist, memoirist and short-story writer. An openly gay man, Choy was also an advocate for LGBTQ2S+ rights as well as a dedicated teacher and mentor. He was born in Vancouver and grew up in the city's Chinatown. He attended the University of British Columbia, where he studied creative writing, then moved to Toronto in 1962 and taught at Humber College from 1967 to 2004. He was president of Cahoots Theatre Company of Toronto from 1999 to 2002. Choy is the author of the novel The Jade Peony (1995) which won the Trillium Book Award and the City of Vancouver Book Award. He also wrote the memoir Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood (1999), which won the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and was nominated for a Governor General's Award. Choy's 2004 novel, All That Matters, was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. In 2005, he was named a member of the Order of Canada. Choy was presented with the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 for his contributions to BC literature

This unprocessed fonds consists of correspondence, news clippings, photographs, and an inscribed copy of Choy's novel, The Jade Peony.

Gay Alliance Toward Equality collection

Extent: 5 cm of textual records ; 24 photographs: col prints ; 31 photographs: b&w prints
Archival finding aid: MsC-269

The Gay Alliance Toward Equality, or GATE, was one of the first Canadian gay liberation groups. Formed in spring 1971 in Vancouver, British Columbia by Maurice Flood, GATE was the first Canadian gay group to explicitly discuss and plan civil rights strategies for achieving gay and lesbian equality under Canadian law.

The collection consists of records such as press releases and publications that document activities of the Gay Alliance Toward Equality. It includes copies and drafts of A Guide for the Naive Homosexual (called the "Blurb"). The collection also includes photographs of various GATE boycotts or protests and personal photographs of Roedy Green, some of which include members of GATE.

Blair Henshaw HIV/AIDS philatelic collection

Extent: 24 cm of philatelic records and other material
Archival finding aid: MsC-64. Part of this collection has been digitized and can be browsed at Blair Henshaw HIV/AIDS Stamp Collection.

Blair Henshaw (1949–2002) was a long-time philatelist (stamp collector) and began developing a collection of HIV/AIDS stamps after the world’s first AIDS stamp was released in 1988. In 1992, seven years after being diagnosed HIV positive, Henshaw began lobbying Canada Post and the Federal Government to produce a Canadian stamp featuring HIV/AIDS in order to raise awareness in Canada and abroad. His efforts were successful with the issuance on May 8, 1996 of Canada’s HIV/AIDS awareness stamp.

This collection consists of the HIV/AIDS-related stamps, philatelic materials, and ephemera Henshaw collected during his lifetime.

Kiss & Tell fonds

Extent: 3,250 photographs and other material
Archival finding aid: MsC-165

Kiss & Tell is an artistic collective based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Members include Persimmon Blackbridge, Lizard Jones, and Susan Stewart. The group formed out of a larger meeting of feminists in 1984 who had gathered to discuss pornography, erotica, and sexual representation in art. The group created several performance art events, including the interactive photo exhibition that toured for several years titled, “Drawing the Line." Photographs were designed to be provocative and show lesbian sexual practices as a means of challenging censorship and imposed societal barriers/norms. The collective's work frequently addresses issues of censorship and lesbian sexual politics.

The fonds consists of records created and accumulated by the Kiss and Tell collective over the course of the collective’s operations. Records include photographs, correspondence, exhibition specifications and guidelines, and promotional and press materials.

Larissa Lai fonds

Extent: 2.68 m of textual material and other material
Archival finding aid: MsC-96

Larissa Lai is an American-born Canadian novelist and literary critic. Lai has been involved in the arts scenes across Canada and has curated exhibitions and written many contributions to catalogues. She writes poetry, short stories, and novels as well as non-fiction essays and reviews. Her notable works include The Tiger Flu, Salt Fish Girl, and Iron Goddess of Mercy. She is the recipient of the Jim Duggins Novelist's Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the Astraea Award, and the Otherwise Honor Book. Lai has also been involved in various activist groups interested in women’s rights, immigrant rights, and other issues.

The fonds consists mainly of textual materials, including notes and drafts of Lai’s works, numerous calendars and datebooks, school materials, and material related to her activism and arts involvement. There are also a large number of photocopied reference materials on such subjects as the arts, gay and lesbian issues, racism and feminism, and Chinese culture. There are a small number of photographs and negatives, and a wide variety of audio-visual media such as cassette tapes, Hi8 cassettes, broadcast video cassettes, and various computer media.

Laurier LaPierre fonds

Extent: 2.7 m of textual records and other material
Archival finding aid: MsC-198

The Honourable Laurier Lucien LaPierre O.C., PhD (1929–2012) received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1955, a Master of Arts in 1957 and a PhD in 1962. LaPierre began his career as a professor, teaching at several institutions across Canada. In 1962, he became involved with the CBC and became known as preeminent social commentator – eloquent, passionate, well-informed and an authority about Canadian history and identity. Throughout his life Laurier LaPierre was actively involved in the study and promotion of Canadian federalism and culture such as the Historica Foundation and the Heritage Fairs program. In addition, while being already actively involved in supporting causes and charities connected to gay and lesbian communities, LaPierre announced he was gay at a public event in 1988.

This fonds contains primarily correspondence, photographs, videotapes, and newspaper clippings as well as research and drafts from a multitude of writing projects LaPierre worked on throughout his life. There is material relevant to many of the key aspects of LaPierre's personal and professional life, including his career as a television broadcaster.

“The Legacy of Jon Gates” collection

Extent: [ca. 75 video recordings] ; 4 cm of textual records ; 5 photographs
Archival finding aid: Msc-203

Jon Gates was a Canadian-based activist committed to raising awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. He was involved with the International Committee for AIDS and liaised with multiple international health organizations to promote equal access and treatment options. He is most well-known for a keynote speech delivered at the Canadian AIDS Society meeting in 1992 shortly before his death. It is this speech and other resources that were compiled by Villon Films to create “The Legacy of Jon Gates” in 1993, which is at the heart of this collection. The film chronicles the last two years of Jon’s life and his fight for recognition that people in the developing world deserve equal care to those in western capitalist countries.

The collection, donated by Peter Davis and Harvey McKinnon, consists of video recordings, photographs, interview transcripts, correspondence, and a project proposal.

Little Sisters Books & Art Emporium fonds

Extent: 34 m of textual records
Archival finding aid: MsC-103

Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium is a bookstore located on Davie Street in Vancouver, serving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. Little Sister’s was bombed three times in the years when it was the only gay and lesbian bookstore in western Canada. More recently, Little Sisters was involved legal battle against censorship and discrimination that made it to the Supreme Court Of Canada; the bookstore challenged the provision of the Customs Act prohibiting the importation of obscene material as well as a section of the Act that put the onus on the importer to disprove obscenity. This case broadened and redefined the definitions of obscenity and tolerance in contemporary Canadian society.

This fonds consists of records relating to the landmark legal battle between Little Sisters Book & Art Emporium and the Government of Canada over customs' censorship and seizure of gay & lesbian books and magazines intended for sale in the bookstore.

Daphne Marlatt fonds

Extent: 4.5 m of textual records and other material
Archival finding aid: MsC-142

Daphne Marlatt is an internationally renowned, lesbian-feminist poet, essayist, and novelist based in Vancouver, B.C. Marlatt was one of the second-wave of undergraduate writers and editors of the student poetry newsletter, TishHer poetic style has been described as dense and deconstructionist, and her writing has addressed themes such as motherhood, feminism, lesbianism, and post-colonialism. Her work often defies classification, spanning genre categories such as autobiography, travelogue, essay, historical fiction and journal. Marlatt has written over thirty books and received numerous awards of recognition for her work. In 2006 she was appointed to the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian Literature. She won the 2008 Uchimura Naoya Prize for The Gull, and the 2009 Dorothy Livesay Prize for The Given. In 2012 she was the 19th recipient of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award, which honours an outstanding literary career in British Columbia.

The fonds consists of records created or accumulated by Daphne Marlatt through her personal and professional activities, predominantly after the year 1990. Records document her activities as a writer of poetry and prose, an editor, and as a teacher of writing and literature, and include manuscripts, notes, research records, correspondence, photographs, grant applications, reviews, and audio and video recordings of poetry readings.

Shani Mootoo fonds

Extent: 5.25 m of textual records and other material
Archival finding aid: MsC-76

Shani Mootoo is known for her work as an artist and writer. She was born in Dublin, Ireland, and raised in Trinidad. She came to Canada at the age of nineteen and earned a fine arts degree from the University of Western Ontario in 1980. She established herself as a painter and video producer before turning her talents to writing. Mootoo’s works include Cereus Blooms at Night, Valmiki’s Daughter, Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, and Polar Vortex. She is a recipient of the K.M. Hunter Artist Award, a Chalmers Arts Fellowship, and the James Duggins Mid-Career Novelists’ Prize. Her work has been longlisted and shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the International DUBLIN Literary Award, and the Booker Prize. Through the use of subtle humour, rich texts and images, her work addresses issues of identity, and challenges the dominant stereotyping of race, gender and sexuality as they impact on her everyday life. 

The fonds reflects Mootoo's work as a writer and artist. It contains printed typescripts of published works with drafts and related working papers, published reviews, drafts of unpublished works, lecture notes, professional correspondence, notebooks and sketchbooks, video productions in VHS format, audio materials and works of visual art.

Stan Persky fonds

Extent: [ca. 7 m of textual records and other material]
Archival finding aid: MsA-15 [unprocessed]

Stan Persky is an American-born Canadian writer, literary activist, media commentator, and philosophy instructor. As a teenager, he made contact with and received encouragement from Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and other writers of the Beat Generation. Persky settled in San Francisco, California in the early 1960s, becoming part of a group of writers that included Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser, and George Stanley. Persky moved to Vancouver in 1966 and became a Canadian citizen in 1972. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was prominent as a student and civic activist, was an early staff member of the alternative newspaper, The Georgia Straight, and co-founder with Dennis Wheeler of the Georgia Straight Writing Supplement, which eventually became New Star Books. Since 1983, he has worked primarily at Capilano University in North Vancouver, first in political studies and then in philosophy. Persky also has worked as a media commentator for the CBC, a literary columnist for The Globe and Mail and The Vancouver Sun, and has written for The Body Politic, This Magazine, New Directions, Saturday Night, Sodomite Invasion Review, Books in Canada and most recently The Tyee.

This unprocessed fonds consists of the literary papers of Stan Persky, as well as the manuscript, galley proofs and published version of Persky's book of poetry, Lives of the French Symbolist Poets.

Shirley Petten sous-fonds (part of the Archives of Lesbian Oral Testimony fonds)

Extent: 36 cm of textual records ; 39 photographs ; 2 optical discs
Archival finding aid: MsC-156-7. Part of this collection has been digitized and can be browsed at the Shirley Petten Collection.

In December 1991, Beverly Holmwood,  Shirley Petten's partner of 20 years, died of Hepatitis C. The disease had been the result of a needlestick injury from a contaminated needle while Holmwood was working as a nurse at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. In November 1992, Petten won a landmark ruling against the British Columbia Workers’ Compensation Board, who had initially refused her a survivor’s pension, and was the first in Canada to receive same-sex benefits from the board.

This sous-fonds consists of the correspondence, newspaper clippings and other materials related to Petten's landmark ruling on same-sex survivor benefit rights.

Nora D. Randall fonds

Extent: [ca. 2.3 m of textual records and other materials]
Archival finding aid: MsC-262 [unprocessed]

Nora D. Randall is a lesbian feminist writer whose work ranged from radio, film, and print. Together with her partner Jackie Crossland, they founded the theatre and storytelling company, Random Acts, in 1988. Together they wrote, produced and directed stories about lesbians and working women that were presented in festivals in Canada and the United States.

The unprocessed fonds includes recordings of performances, scrapbooks, press releases, promotional material, scripts, newspaper clippings, reviews, contracts, and art journals. It also includes documentation from Women Against Budget, a feminist organization inside the Solidarity Movement that opposed the Bennett government restraint budgets. 

Jack Spicer fonds

Extent: 3 cm of textual records
Archival finding aid: MsA-20

Jack Spicer (1925–1965) was an American poet often identified with the San Francisco Renaissance. Spicer was born in Rhode Island and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 10 where he later attended the University of Redlands. He spent most of his writing life in San Francisco and spent the years 1945 to 1955 at the University of California, Berkeley, where he began writing, doing work as a research linguist, and publishing some poetry. During this time, he searched out fellow poets, but it was through his alliance with Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser and Landis Everson that Spicer forged a new kind of poetry, and together they referred to their common work as the Berkeley Renaissance. The four, who were all gay, also educated younger poets in their circle about their "queer genealogy", Rimbaud, Lorca, and other gay writers. In 1954, Spicer co-founded the Six Gallery, the scene of the famous October 1955 reading that launched the West Coast Beat movement. 

The fonds consists of holograph manuscripts of poems collected in "Imaginary Elegies", "Language", and "The Book of Magazine Verse".

George Stanley fonds

Extent: 2.68 m of textual records ; 60 photographs ; 2 audio cassettes
Archival finding aid: MsC-99

George Stanley is a Canadian-American poet associated with the San Francisco Renaissance. Born in San Francisco in 1934, poet Stanley grew up in San Francisco where he became associated with the writing circle of Jack Spicer. Stanley came to Canada in 1971 and taught college English for 26 years, mainly in Terrace, before retiring to live in Vancouver. Stanley was associated with The Grape underground newspaper and New Star Books. He has published many books of poetry, both in San Francisco and in Canada. One of his best-known poems is "Veracruz". A Tall, Serious Girl is his collection of selected poetry. In 2006 he won the Shelley Memorial Award. Vancouver: A Poem was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 2009.

The fonds illustrates George Stanley’s work as a poet in San Francisco, New York, Vancouver, and Terrace, spanning from the late 1950s to the present. Fonds also documents Stanley’s interactions with the broader literary scenes, including publishers and other writers. Records in the fonds include: correspondence, loose leaf and bound typescripts, manuscripts, notebooks, chapbooks, sound recordings, personal journals, published materials, financial records, and photographs.

“Tides of Men” Oral History collection

Extent: 18 audio recordings
Archival finding aid: MsC-193

"Tides of Men: A Documentary on the Lives of Gay Men in British Columbia, 1936 to the Present" began as an oral history project, compiled by Robert Rothon and Myron Plett. Robert Rothon is a writer, artist, broadcaster, and arts administrator who moved to Vancouver from Montreal in 1986. He worked as an opera critic for French CBC Radio and co-founded the Vancouver Out On Screen Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Society in 1989. Myron Plett, at the time a Vancouver-based writer who contributed to community newspapers, collaborated with Rothon on the project. During 1995-1996, they collected interviews describing gay life in Vancouver and the history of gay life in British Columbia.

This collection contains 18 cassettes (approximately 27 hours) representing 10 interviews compiled for the oral history project.

John Wieners fonds

Extent: 1 cm of textual records
Archival finding aid: MsA-25

John Wieners (1934–2002) was an American Beat poet and member of the San Francisco Renaissance. Wieners attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he studied under Charles Olson and Robert Duncan. He later followed Olson, his mentor, to SUNY Buffalo. He published his first book of poetry, The Hotel Wentley Poems (1958), at the age of 24. Numerous collections followed, including Ace of Pentacles (1964); Nerves (1970); and Behind the State Capitol, or Cincinnati Pike (1975), a collection of letters, memoir, and poems.

Wieners’ honors include awards from the Poets Foundation, the New Hope Foundations, and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, as well as a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He founded and edited the literary magazine Measure (1957–1962). Wieners also worked as an actor and stage manager at the Poet’s Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and taught at the Beacon Hill Free School in Boston. He was also an antiwar and gay rights activist. His poetry combines candid accounts of sexual and drug-related experimentation with jazz-influenced improvisation, placing both in a lyrical structure.

The fonds consists of correspondence (letters from Wieners to Alan Marlowe).

Syd Zolf fonds

Extent: [ca. 4 m of textual records and electronic records]
Archival finding aid: MsC-145 [unprocessed]

Syd Zolf’s artistic practice explores materialist questions about memory, history, knowledge, subjectivity and the conceptual limits of language and meaning. Zolf’s work queerly enacts how ethics founders on the shoals of the political, imagining other possibilities of sociality, space, and time. Their books of poetry include Human Resources (2007, Coach House Books), Neighbour Procedure (2010, Coach House Books), Janey’s Arcadia (2014, Coach House Books), and Social Poesis (2019, Wilfrid Laurier University Press). Their book No One's Witness: A Monstrous Poetics (2021, Duke University Press) was a finalist for the 2022 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. They won a 2018 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, the 2008 Trillium Book Award for Poetry, and have been a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and the Raymond Souster Memorial Award. Their film version of Janey’s Arcadia has shown at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and other venues. They have taught at New York’s The New School and the University of Calgary and have completed a PhD in Philosophy, Art and Social Thought at the European Graduate School.

This unprocessed fonds consists of the papers of Syd Zolf, and includes research sources, drafts, correspondence, interviews, journals, magazines, teaching files, essay files, grant applications, and tax information. Records document Zolf's work as a poet, critic, editor, essayist, filmmaker and professor at the New School and University of Calgary. 

Newspapers and journals

Gay community newspaper published by the Newspaper Committee for the Vancouver Gay Community Centre Society from 1983-1998.

Christopher Street
This gay-oriented magazine was published in New York by Charles Ortleb. It was known for both serious discussion of issues within the gay community and satirical elements of anti-gay criticism.

Gay Relationship: Gay Community Pamphlets
Pamphlets produced by Hop Brook, a separatist gay male commune founded on land near New Salem, Massachusetts in the early-mid 1970s.

No Apologies
Gay literary magazine, published by Bryan Monte from 1983 to 1985.

Pink Ink
Monthly national publication for lesbians and gay men published between July 1983 and January 1984.

SamiYoni (sometimes spelled Sami Yoni) was a Canadian magazine for lesbians of South Asian descent, published between 1993–1994.

The Body Politic
A magazine for lesbian/gay liberation published in Toronto between 1971 and 1987. This magazine was one of the first significant gay/lesbian publications in Canada that help to shape development of LGBTQ2S+ community in Canada.

The Sodomite Invasion
The Sodomite Invasion Review was a Vancouver-based magazine published between 1991-1992. The name of the journal parodied the disdained response of the local Conservatives to the announcement of the Gay Games and Cultural Festival in Vancouver.

Newsletter of the Vancouver Gay Community Centre from 1980-1983 and was an information vehicle for the Vancouver gay community. Subsequently, Angles was born out of VGCC News.


Little Sister’s vs. Big Brother / Homeboys Productions presents a film by Aeryln [sic] Weissman
The story of a high stakes legal drama and a small bookstore's fight for respect, written and directed by Aerlyn Weissman and produced by Weissman and Cari Green. Weissman captured the key moments in the Little Sister's battle against censorship court decisions, book seizures, moments of personal courage, and shocking violence inflicted on Vancouver's gay community. Sparked by the Little Sister's battle against censorship, a diverse group of writers, along with free speech advocates speak out in defense of the right of all Canadians to read and view what they choose.

Books and other published material

Special Collections and Rare Books is also home to a number of monographs and journals that relate to the LGBTQ2S+ experience in British Columbia. The following subject heading links will lead you to resources in Special Collections. Try your own search, or expand to include all of the library’s collections.

Other useful links: Beyond SCRB

SFU Library research guides

Need other resources beyond Special Collections and Rare Books, including current resources on this topic? SFU's subject specialist librarians create research and subject guides to recommend the best resources for your discipline, and the best search strategies, whether you are looking for books or searching specialised databases. Related subject guides include:

LGBTQ2S+ archives and primary sources

Reference works + websites