In June 1969, Canada enacted landmark legislation to decriminalize homosexuality nationwide. 50 years after this momentous action, diverse voices from Canada’s contemporary queer community reflect on this contested history for what it can teach us about shaping our movements into the future
In June 1969, Canada enacted landmark legislation to “decriminalize” homosexuality nationwide. 50 years later, there is a need to explore how this history continues to impact our community.
Making its way across Canada on a national tour, Sex, Sin & 69 is a ground-breaking 80-minute documentary and complementary photo exhibit. Together these pieces explore diverse voices from across Canada’s contemporary queer community as they relate to Bill C-150 and shaping LGBTQI2S movements into the future.
Canada owns a legacy of state-sponsored discrimination against LGBTQI2S communities. This continues to present as entrenched homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and the suppression of Two-Spirit Indigenous Peoples. This history of state suppression did not cease in 1969, and the LGBTQI2S community continues to fight for respect, equity, and inclusion across Canada.
The Sex, Sin & 69 Documentary is a 80-minute historical, retrospective film about the 1969 legislation to ‘decriminalize’ homosexuality.
Told through contemporary voices including queer academics, historians, activists, educators, artists, and community builders, the film attempts to challenge our understanding of queer history by shining a light on widely adopted misconceptions surrounding decriminalization. The perspectives highlighted throughout the film lend it the contemporary relevance required to resonate with a modern audience largely removed from ‘decrim’ and historical queer Canada. In fact, this distance from the factual record of queer Canada provides a critical story driver in the film: calling into question dominant discourses about the significance of decriminalization.
Sex, Sin & 69 was produced and directed by SandBay Entertainment.
The Sex, Sin & 69 Exhibit builds on the documentary by highlighting themes including Social Justice through Action, Building Queer Community, Identity & Politics and Sex & Gender Freedom. These themes are brought to life through a collection of photography, memorabilia, writing from individuals as well as publications that were submitted by activists, artists, community members and others who have or are currently working to achieve LGBTQI2S rights in Canada.
The exhibit is intended to add depth to the narratives present in the Sex, Sin & 69 documentary, enabling audiences to connect more intimately with the experiences of the LGBTQI2S community in Canada.
The exhibit will tour across Canada the summer of 2019.
One of the common mythologies perpetuated around Bill C-150 concerns it being a total and complete decriminalization of homosexuality and further, that it was proposed and legislated by a progressive, Liberal government that was far advanced on issues around homosexuality. And more egregious still, that it dealt with any notions of equality, inclusion, social justice, human rights, liberation, or anti-oppression.
The truth is that the bill re-categorized homosexuals within Canadian society, from criminals to the pathologized – two marginalizing modalities which were already overlapping in complex and nuanced ways.
Consensual homosexual acts in private between two individuals of 21 years of age or older was to be no longer a crime; the societal burden shifting from the courts to medical offices. Even the most progressive and liberal voices in the Canadian cabinet in 1969 believed that homosexuals were deviants – sinners in need of sympathy and understanding, and most certainly – in need of medical treatment.
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