VIDEO: Lesbian Bars and the History of LOON
For the first part of this series on the Lesbian and Feminist movements, click here.
Marie Robertson, along with Rose Stanton and others such as Candis Graham, forms a separate organization called Lesbians of Ottawa Now (LOON) in June 1976, operating mainly as a social collective, but also organizing a national Lesbian Conference in October 9 to 11 that year, attracting over 300 women from across the country. Barbara Thornborrow, a private in the Armed Forces, contacts LOON when she is discharged as a 'sexual deviate' in June of 1977. Her case, along with horse jockey John Damian, become lightning rods for job discrimination of the LBGT community. The group disbands in 1979.
Eventually, more lesbians join Gays of Ottawa and Linda Wilson is elected as the first female president of the organization in 1983, when the organization votes for gender parity in the board of directors. The group changes its name to the Association of Lesbians and Gays of Ottawa in 1989.
The women's dances that GO organizes are fantastically successful. Many recall long line-ups of waiting women going down the stairs at the Centre as they were always at capacity. The Coral Reef remains open until 2001, and the Kelly Brant, Sue Dunton and other investors open the Lookout Bar in 1997 with a very popular lesbian Friday night.
In Harmony, a women's chorus, is formed in 1991 and continues to exist to this day. Sue Smee forms the Lesbian Outdoor Group (LOG) in 1995. Holly and Julia Wagg found the Ten Oaks Project for LGBT children or children of LGBT parents to go to a safe, social and educational summer camp.
Queer women fought along with their gay brothers during the HIV/AIDS crisis, and are involved politically in every queer rights organization, from EGALE, Pink Triangle Services, the Police Liaison Committee, to the Ottawa Senior Pride Network and more.
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