Arts & Entertainment
1 min

Beautiful and damned

Gerald Hannon offers a sneak peek into his forthcoming memoir

"I was more than an observer - I was a participant," says Gerald Hannon of the early years of the gay rights movement.
Award-winning writer Gerald Hannon’s life story is one both personal and political, and it interlinks intimately with the development of the Toronto gay and lesbian community.
 
Hannon, who is also a former university instructor and sex worker, made reference to his memoir in a recent Xtra article about his relationship with fellow writer Joseph Couture. “The work is very much ‘in progress,’” he says. “It is perhaps half done, though I’ve yet to begin the most important section, The Body Politic years. I’m not predicting a completion date.”
 
His memoir is an opportunity for Hannon to tell the whole story, not just the important, though oft-sensationalized, history of The Body Politic, with his name invoked alongside the magazine’s controversies. “I came to Toronto to go to university in 1962 so was around for the birth of the modern gay movement in the early ’70s,” he says. “I was more than an observer – I was a participant, involved with The Body Politic and most of the early gay activist organizations.”
 
For those interested in catching a teaser of Hannon’s memoir, he will be reading alongside other artists at The Beautiful & The Damned, an evening of poetry and cabaret.
 
Hannon says the reading will concentrate on his early years, “growing up in a remote mill town, ignorant of sex, coming to Toronto and falling in love with a straight fellow student, realizing that my best friends there were also queer bashers.”
 
His memoir offers an exciting opportunity to peek into the birth of the Canadian gay rights movement and at the life of one of the men who helped build it. “I want to convey how exciting it was in the early years to take a hand in building your own life and refusing to live as the ‘sick fag’ that society had decided was your fate.”