In honour of Pride Month, we want to take a moment to highlight three activists who are making or have made a big difference in the advocacy and resilience of LGBTQ2+ communities.
Copyright: The Stonewall Foundation
Sylvia Rivera was another key figure in the Stonewall Riots, as was Marsha P. Johnson. She was quickly identified as an advocate for the rights of trans and gender non-conforming people. From the beginning of her involvement in the riots, Sylvia Rivera has dedicated her life to fighting for her beliefs and for equal rights, even dealing with the Empire State Pride Agenda on her deathbed.
In honour of Sylvia Rivera’s activism in the gay and trans community, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) was founded in 2002, the same year she died. As a legal aid organization, SRLP “strives to ensure that all people are free to determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income and race, and without facing harassment, discrimination, or violence”, by providing gay, transgender, and fluid people with access to legal services, as well as teaching leadership and advocacy skills.
Copyright: The Star
Alec Butler is widely known as a Canadian two-spirited, non-binary and intersex activist. His award-winning plays and films depicting trans and Two-Spirit life in the 1970s position him as a strong voice for trans rights since his transition from female to male in the 1990s.
Alec Butler played a very important role in the defence of Bill C-16. He and many other trans activists finally made illegal discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, and gave equal rights and protection to the trans people they fought so hard to assist.
Copyright: The Star
George Hislop is one of the best-known activists in Canada. In 1950, he and his partner became one of the first gay couples to go public. As George Hislop was a politician, his appearance in the public sphere was a landmark event for the community. He then became a gay rights activist. He supported the founding of the Community Homophile Association in 1971, organized the first demonstration for gay rights on Parliament Hill, and was a leading figure in the movement to include gays and lesbians in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In 1999, he fought to have the word ‘spouse’ applied to gay and lesbian couples, entitling them to a pension plan. He died in a Toronto hospital on October 8, 2005.