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A tour of our gallery wall for Women's History Month

By: Kate Bowley, Practice Development Supervisor

With the help of the Toronto ArQuives and the San Francisco Public Library, we curated a selection of photographs that tell a small part of the story of the HIV & AIDS activism that is so foundational to the work that we do. In honour of Women’s History Month, let’s go through some of my favourite images from our gallery wall that include the incredible work that queer women contributed to the movement. Scroll through the images below or check out the video on our YouTube channel here.

The photo below is from International Women’s Day in 1986. The Lesbian Organization of Toronto was founded in 1976 as Toronto’s first openly lesbian feminist group. LOOT was diverse in their activism, though it is important to note that most of their membership was cisgender white women. One associated group, however, was the Committee Against the Deportation of Immigrant Women. They argued that Canada’s immigration practices  were racist and sexist, leaving women vulnerable to exploitation through poor labour practices in Canada.

These next two photos are from the San Francisco Public Library’s LGBTQIA archives. I love these photos. They are from the Jeannie O’Connor AIDS Self-Portraits Collection. These self-portraits were taken by people who were living with HIV or AIDS at the height of the crisis—before effective drugs were available and the stigmas of living with HIV & AIDS were dangerous. I love these photos because of their playfulness. You can feel the freedom of self-expression come through the lens. During this time, this kind of pride and self-expression was a radical act in itself.

The final photo that I am going to highlight for Women’s History Month is another photo from the San Francisco Public Library’s LGBTQIA archives. We do not know much about the people in this photo. However, to me, this is such a beautiful expression of queer joy. When talking about activism, it is important to talk about the fight, the challenges that come with advocating for change, the oppression that people face. I also think that it is important to talk about joy, community, and collective care.

With our roots in activism, our goal is always to support clients in finding their joy and safety in their new home. If you are in the office, take some time to check out our gallery wall. I know that I have spent some time taking it all in, and it can be quite an emotional experience. If you have any questions about the selection of photos, just ask! I would be happy to talk about it with you.

Are you looking to immigrate to Canada and are concerned about medical inadmissibility due to your HIV/AIDS status? Email us today at to book a consultation with our office.


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