Ottawa Demonstration August 28th, 1971
Introduction for Ottawa Demonstration, August 28th, 1971
These are the surviving still images I took with my old Bronica 6×6 during the demonstration. I also took a roll of cine film that I might add once edited. It poured all during the demo and that really complicated things … especially when the camera became so wet that I could no longer forward the roll of film.
In retrospect, there is a humorous but not particularly ’empowering’ detail about the demonstration. It was – you must realize – the first (and only) ‘National’ gay and lesbian demonstration in Canadian history. However, we were demonstration ‘novices’, to say the least. Probably half or more of the signs held by the demonstrators were actually made in Toronto by Toronto Gay Action members, including myself. It was the usual ‘shoestring’ budget affair and so the signs were made of white cardboard sheets, stapled to sticks of pine. The slogans were written out using ‘magic markers’, a great innovation at the time. I personally scripted and sketched out many of these protest phrases. As the demonstration got underway, people would then choose among the stack of signs, selecting the ones which they found most relevant to expressing their personal feelings. And so the demonstration began with everyone (except me) holding a placard. A few were captured on film – either by myself or by the CBC (which thankfully! covered the event.)
However, we did not facot in a torrential downpour (Ha!) during the demonstration. Alas, it was so unrelenting that most of the signs we had produced in Toronto, dissolved into unreadable gobs of paper within minutes. (The next time around we used styrofoam insulation sheets, painted on with acrylic paints. You can see these lessons clearly by comparing various demonstration galleries.)