Barbara Hall is a Canadian lawyer, public servant and former politician. She was the 61st mayor of Toronto, the last to run before amalgamation. She was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. She retired after her term was renewed four times. She’s an avid LGBTQ rights advocate who has been often seen marching at Pride. She has recently seen the park adjacent to the 519 named after her to commemorate the great work she has done for our community. The park houses the 519 Green Space, the WorldPride Aids candlelight vigil and a Trans Mural.
James Dubro, a well known crime writer and documentarian of organized crime, has lived, played and worked in the downtown gay communities since 1970. He was a member of the university of Toronto’s Gay Academic Union, a board member of the Canadian chapter of the National Lesbians and Gay Journalist Association. written for the Body Politic, and reported on crime issues for “Xtra” for two decades. He founded the first gay dining club in Toronto called The Mayfly in 1979 which existed for 15 years of monthly dinners and social activities He later was a long-time member of the first police/gay community liaison committee (1991-2002). While a student at Columbia University James witnessed the first of the Stonewall riots firsthand on June 28, 1969 as he was outside the bar that night watching the street kids and drag queens fight and being beaten up by the police in Greenwich Village. He also was a participant in the first gay demonstration in Toronto at Hanlans Point sponsored by Toronto Gay Action in early August 1971–it was an open gay picnic with banners but was called the “big giggle” demo in the press at the time. He is now 69 and still lives in the gay village area.
Since coming out in 1969 at age 12, Deb has been proudly herself. She has fought violence against women, powered NDP election campaigns and innovatively used music as her organizing tool, inspiring thousands of us to dance in joy & outrage – all as an outspoken lesbian. She began her activism DJ‘ing with Lesbians of Ottawa Now in 1977 and was one of the first out dykes working at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre in 1980. Deb pioneered both Dyke and Trans defence courses and has remained active mentoring young people, pursuing social justice and growing the NDP’s presence in Pride celebrations across the province. Deb is a recipient of the 2007 City of Toronto Human Rights award.
Candice reigned as Empress of The Imperial Court of Toronto an unprecedented four times. She was a legend across the International Court System, known across Canada and the United States as someone many queens aspired to be and someone every Court member liked. A large number of Toronto’s best entertainers owe their start to Candice. She not only gave them stage time, tips and help with their craft, she gave some of them a home, a place where they felt loved and accepted. She fed them, taught them, loved them and became their family when their own families didn’t support them.
Debbie Douglas is the Executive Director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Ms. Douglas is the recipient of several awards including the Women of Distinction from YWCA Toronto; the Amino Malko award from the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture; the Race Relations award from the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and more recently the Frances Lankin Community Service Award for 2016. A well-known face in Ontario and across the country, Ms. Douglas is often called upon by governments to share her expertise. She was a member of the provinces’ Expert Panel on Immigration which published the report Routes to Success and led to the province’s first immigration legislation enacted in the Spring of 2015. Ms. Douglas was also recently appointed to the provincial working group on income security.
J. Andrew Baker is an educator, administrator, artist, counsellor, and activist from Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada. Andrew currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland where is works as the Senior Development Officer for ILGA. For the past 20 years, he focused his career and volunteer work within Indigenous and LGBT communities. He has extensive development experience founding three LGBT organizations in Canada and implementing over 10 Indigenous Programs in Ontario. In the past five years, he has raised over 2 million dollars towards LGBT and Indigenous initiatives. Andrew worked as the Rainbow Health Ontario Community Outreach Worker for the North Simcoe Muskoka Region from 2008 to 2014, and he was a founding member of the Simcoe County LGBTQ Network. Currently, Andrew is the Vice President of Governance for Fierté Canada Pride, the Past President of Fierté Simcoe Pride and the Vice President of Operations (male-identified) at InterPride. He also works as a faculty member in Indigenous Studies at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario, Canada.
Chris Edwards (Criss Edwards) was born in Fort Worth, Texas on December 24, 1961. In the early 80‘s he started in the artform of female impersonation, perfecting his craft in Fort Lauderdale and catching the eye of producers who brought him to Canada for “An Evening At La Cage”. It was here in Toronto that Chris made his home and his fame. In the late 80’s, Chris Edwards‘ weekly show at “Chaps” became a staple of members of our LGBTQ2 family, often having a lineup all the way to Yonge St. He also created Miss Gay Toronto/ Miss Gay Universe pageants as a platform for many of Toronto’s top entertainers that still is a running tradition to this day. In his lifetime, the PWA Organization estimated that he single handedly raised over $ 300,000.00 for HIV/AIDS related causes. His infectious laugh and sense of humor are the attributes that people miss the most. Sadly, on Aug 26, 2016, during a performance at Buddies Chris collapsed, and passed away on September 6. He leaves behind a legacy of love and generosity that all of us in Toronto’s Gay community should emulate. Although gone, he will never be forgotten.
Glen Wesley Brown grew up on the Prairies, raised in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan within a farming family. Upon coming to Toronto in the late 1980s, he very quickly became a central figure in the Toronto LBTQ community including as a pioneering activist with AIDS Action Now! Over almost 30 years, he was a central figure in the HIV/AIDS sector as an advocate, organizational leader and advisor. Glen also served as interim Executive Director for a number of important community organizations, including the AIDS Committee of Toronto and Pride Toronto. He has been widely credited with helping such organizations successfully transition through challenging times. Glen co-founded the Program Consultants Network of Toronto, a network of consultants advising and supporting important not-for-profit organizations across Ontario and Canada. He ultimately moved into leadership role in the environmental sector as a director and ultimately Chair of the Board of Greenpeace Canada. Glen was a tremendous friend, colleague and mentor to many.
Savoy “Kapow!” Howe is the head coach and owner of Toronto Newsgirls, Canada’s first female and Trans positive boxing club. In 1993 Savoy fought one of Toronto’s first sanctioned boxing bouts for women. Aside from a recreational boxing program and an amateur program, Savoy runs ‘Outside the Ring’, a free boxing program for the LGBTQ and the Indigenous communities, new Canadians and people with mobility issues.
A leader an activist in Toronto’s black LGBTQ community. DJ Black Cat is iconic in the local club scene. This Toronto Canada native is of Jamaican descent & knows his way around all kinds of Music such as Dancehall, hip hop, R&B, dance, soca & his 1st love House music.