On the Edge of Urban ‘Equalities’: Framing Millennial Suburban LGBTQ+ Activisms in Canada

  • Julie A. Podmore Deparment of Geosciences, John Abbott College, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, Canada
  • Alison L. Bain Department of Geography, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Keywords: Canada; suburbia; activisms; LGBTQ ; print media


Since the emergence of the gay liberation movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer plus) activisms in the urban West have been associated with political challenges to the heteronormative social order waged through public demonstrations and, particularly in North America, space-claiming at the centre of large cities. At the turn of the millennium in Canada, however, highly publicized incidents of gay rights activism began occurring in the suburbs of its major metropolitan centres. This paper reads a suburban LGBTQ+ print media database (1985-2015) (n=1,763) for cases of suburban LGBTQ+ activisms in this era for two of Canada’s largest cities, Vancouver and Montreal. It argues that frame analysis of print media coverage of suburban LGBTQ+ activism from this era can broaden understandings of the historic queer metropolitan by extending it to include its periphery. Drawing on frame analysis, the paper examines newspaper representations of three landmark case studies of suburban LGBTQ+ activism just before the era of ‘equalities.’ Millennial Canadian LGBTQ+ suburban activisms were part of a broader, multi-scalar expansion of this social movement, but the print media worked through an urban-suburban binary that, while questioning the proper place for LGBTQ+ activisms, reinscribed suburbia’s persistent heteronormativity.


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