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social sciences

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Wilson, Douglas (1950-1992)  
 
page: 1  2  3  

Much of Wilson's organizing was done as a volunteer. In 1983, he was one of founders of Pink Ink, an alternative publication to the primarily gay male perspective of The Body Politic. Pink Ink was intended for a more diverse audience as a vehicle for talking about social justice issues for all persons. But the publication encountered some funding problems and was short lived. Out of it however, grew the Rites! collective and its publication, Rites: For Lesbian and Gay Liberation, which continued with the same goals begun with Pink Ink. Rites continued to publish until 1993.

Living in the inner city, Wilson became an advocate for tenants' rights, volunteering from 1986 to 1988 on the board of the Federation of Toronto Tenants' Association. This led to his involvement with the Friends of Downtown, which successfully lobbied against a scheme of one-way streets that would have seriously impacted Church Street and the heart of the gay neighborhood.

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During those same years, Wilson became involved internationally as National Coordinator on a part-time contract with Mission for Peace, an organization lobbying for peace in Central America. He coordinated trips for Canadian politicians, bureaucrats, and NGO staff going there to assist in a peace process. In particular, the Canadian government and Canadian grassroots organizations, such as unions, universities, churches, and other sectors, were assisting the Nicaraguan Sandinista government in the areas of literacy, health, and workers' rights. In 1987, Wilson went to Nicaragua as part of a six-person delegation looking at how Canadian government policies were affecting that country.

In 1988, the Ontario government's inaction around improved treatment for people with AIDS resulted in Wilson and others founding AIDS Action Now!, which lobbied politicians and put pressure on governments, drug companies, and other institutions. Their diligence was eventually successful in providing improved access to information, drugs, and financial aid.

That same year, believing that political action could make a difference, Wilson ran for the 1988 New Democratic Party nomination in the riding of Rosedale, home to some of the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods in Toronto. He and his supporters worked hard to wrestle the nomination away from establishment-favorite Anton Kuerte, a well-known classical pianist. When Wilson won the nomination he became the first openly gay candidate nominated by a major political party in Canada.

During the 1988 federal election Wilson campaigned tirelessly. Mid-way through the campaign, however, he came close to dying from a hitherto undetected case of pneumocystis pneumonia and the campaign was abandoned. Wilson and McGehee were devastated to learn that they were both HIV-positive.

From that point on, Wilson dedicated more of his time lobbying and organizing for the treatment of AIDS/HIV as founding chair of the Canadian Network of Organizations of People Living with HIV/AIDS.

Wilson and McGehee

In 1977, Wilson founded Stubblejumper Press, a press dedicated to publishing works by Canadian lesbians and gay men. Through it he published his own slim volume of poems, The Myth of the Boy (1977). He also published Ian Young's essay Gay Resistance: Homosexuals and the Anti-Nazi Underground (1985), which chronicles the anti-Nazi contributions of gay men in Germany.

In 1983, Stubblejumper Press published McGehee's first novella, Beyond Happiness: The Intimate Memoirs of Billy Lee Belle. Wilson and McGehee then produced a one-man show based on the novella that McGehee performed across Canada, in New York City, and in San Francisco in 1983 and 1984.

Wilson's influence was also felt through the close role he played as advisor and sounding board for McGehee on his three books, The I .Q. Zoo (1991), Boys Like Us (1991), and Sweetheart (1992).

In mid-1991, with McGehee's health in serious decline, Wilson helped him complete the revisions to Sweetheart. Wilson's own health was precarious, but he was determined to look after his partner until the end. The steady flow of support team members through their home exhausted him, but Wilson was grateful for their aid, which allowed McGehee to die at home on September 13, 1991. In 1992, Wilson traveled so he could spread McGehee's ashes in New York, San Francisco, and Saskatchewan.

Shortly after McGehee's death, Wilson found notes for the third book in McGehee's projected trilogy. Wilson became driven to write it for his lover. He retreated to the Saskatchewan Writers Colony at St. Peter's Abbey in Muenster, as McGehee had done for the earlier books. He finished Labor of Love two weeks before his own death on September 26, 1992.

The Canadian publisher that had contracted the book demanded changes that no one could make and finally declined to publish it. St. Martin's Press stood by their commitment, however, and published Labor of Love in both the U.S. and Canada.

Wilson's life was celebrated at private and community gatherings in Toronto and Saskatoon.

His legacy is recognized by the Gays and Lesbians at the University of Saskatchewan through the Doug Wilson Award. Established in March 1995, the award honors those individuals who have shown leadership and courage in advancing the rights, equality, and well-being of glbtq people at the university. The award is considered by some to be the most prestigious gay/lesbian award in Saskatchewan.

Fiji Robinson

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   Related Entries
  
social sciences >> Overview:  AIDS Activism

In the United States, glbtq people have played an integral and often leading role in AIDS activism, greatly influencing AIDS treatment and advocacy.

literature >> Overview:  AIDS Literature

In the twenty years since its first appearance in the West, AIDS has been the subject of a large body of literature, most of it written by gay men and much of it designed to expose readers as closely as possible to the emergency of the epidemic and the suffering of affected individuals.

social sciences >> Overview:  Anti-discrimination Statutes and Ordinances

Anti-discrimination statutes and ordinances have made a real difference in the lives of millions of glbtq individuals.

social sciences >> Overview:  Canada

In 2005 Canada became the fourth country to recognize same-sex marriages; the milestone victory solidified Canada's position as a leader in the struggle for glbtq equality.

social sciences >> Overview:  Colleges and Universities

The efforts of glbtq students, staff, and faculty over the last thirty years to make their colleges and universities more responsive to glbtq issues have noticeably improved the campus climate at many institutions in the United States, though some harassment continues.

social sciences >> Overview:  Immigration Law

Those countries that allow the immigration of glbtq persons based on persecution in their home countries often raise difficulties or apply the existing laws inequitably, especially in the case of glbtq couples who apply for entry as domestic partners.

literature >> Overview:  Journalism and Publishing

The gay and lesbian press is of prime importance in sustaining a frequently embattled minority and has been crucial in the development of a national mass movement for gay rights.

social sciences >> Overview:  Toronto

Toronto's glbtq community has gone from being a hidden subculture to a power base in politics, the economy, and the arts.

social sciences >> Hislop, George

An early leader of the Canadian gay rights movement, George Hislop was an indefatigable fighter for equality.

literature >> McGehee, Peter

American-Canadian novelist Peter McGehee is best remembered for his deft negotiation of the AIDS pandemic through the genre of screwball comedy.


    Bibliography
   

"Douglas Wilson (1950-1992)." CLGA National Portrait Collection. Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (November 4, 2002): http://www.clga.ca/About/NPC/WilsonD-088.htm

Kate, Larry. "Quinlans: Barbershoppunk." The Sheaf (University of Saskatchewan) (December 3, 1981).

Korinek, Valerie J. "'The most openly Gay person for at least a thousand miles': Doug Wilson and the Politicization of a Province, 1975-83." The Canadian Historical Review 84.4 (December 2003): 517-83.

Rennie, Adam. "Interview with Tim McCaskell, author of Race to Equity: Disrupting Educational Inequality." between the lines (April 2005): http://www.btlbooks.com/Links/mccaskell_interview05.htm

Richards, Neil. "Celebrating a History of Diversity: Lesbian and Gay Life in Saskatchewan, 1971-2005." University of Saskatchewan Library, Saskatchewan Resources for Sexual Diversity: http://library.usask.ca/spcoll/srsd/chronology/

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Robinson, Fiji  
    Entry Title: Wilson, Douglas  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated June 15, 2006  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/wilson_douglas.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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