A former prime minister and four well-known queer pioneers will be the first inductees into the Q Hall of Fame when it launches Sep 19 with a ball at the Westin Bayshore Hotel.
The late Pierre Trudeau, Dogwood Monarchy Society founder ted northe, Little Sister’s manager Janine Fuller, Olympic gold medal swimmer and Outgames co-founder Mark Tewksbury and longtime volunteer and philanthropist Robert Kaiser (Joan-E) will be honoured at the Q Ball for their contributions to gay rights.
The Q Hall of Fame is the brainchild of CIBC’s Pride Network president Paul Therien, evolving out of a desire to raise funds for Qmunity (formerly The Centre).
Qmunity will house the hall of fame’s physical aspects, such as inductee biographies and photographs, and receive a portion of the proceeds of this year’s ball as a caretaker’s donation in return.
Therien stresses, however, that the Q Hall of Fame is independent of Qmunity and CIBC, the event’s presenting sponsor this year.
“It’s going to be its own separate entity; it will be registered nonprofit federally,” he says.
“We want it to be national,” Therien adds, “because in every region, in very province, in every city, there are outstanding members of our community who’ve done great things but they don’t get that national recognition.
“When we get the final logistics set up, we’ll have it headquartered here in Vancouver, and then we would like to have regional boards so that we have national representation,” he elaborates.
It’s time for gay Canadians to pay more attention to their own community’s history, he says, as opposed to events such as Stonewall that have happened around the world.
“The community in Canada, we tend to forget our own history,” he says, “so we wanted to do something that would recognize that and would be a permanent place of recognition.”
A hall of fame would help break down the barriers both within and outside of the queer community, Therien believes.
“We’ve got lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people and although the community is always lumped as LGBT, it’s not always so,” he observes. “We’re all in our own little niches and there isn’t something that binds them together. There isn’t something that shows that unified history that we have.
“The hope of the Hall of Fame is that it will achieve that — help bind us together.”
He says the Q Hall of Fame could also honour those who are not members of the queer community.
“We’d be looking at people from all walks of life who’ve done things either directly or indirectly that impact or that has had an impact on the human rights movement for the LGBT community,” Therien notes.
“Qmunity would be honoured to house the Q Hall of Fame,” says co-chair Craig Maynard.
“The legal equality struggle of queers in Canada is well-documented,” Maynard notes, but “the significance of the hall of fame is to say that even with legal foundations and protections in place, the personal trials of significant people in our community need to be acknowledged.
“What the Q Hall of Fame attempts to do is point out people, significant faces in our community, that have stepped forward [to fight for] equality.”
Maynard also sees the hall of fame in educational terms.
“Striving for equality is not meant to be kept within the domains of a courtroom, classroom or legislature. It’s meant to be — as we see with some of the inductees — on the stage, in the swimming pool, in whatever walks of life, and by doing this we’re saying that we make it most relevant to queers everywhere.”
Q Ball keynote speakers will be Canadian Museum of Human Rights’ chief operating officer Patrick O’Reilly, Qmunity’s executive director Jennifer Breakspear and Therien. The evening’s emcee is drag artist Symone.