Professor Matthew Hayday of the University of Guelph has written an evocative piece on some of the joys and potential pitfalls of engaging living activists in historical research. His piece, “The History of the Recent: Reflections on Social Movement History, Research Methods and the Rapid Passage of Time,” is a useful read for anybody interested in the connections between oral history, professional historians, social movements, and activists.
In mid-March, I learned that ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in New York, Spiers was a key figure in a number of Toronto’s gay liberation organizations in the 1970s, including The Body Politic collective and Toronto Gay Action. I had been trying to track Spiers down because he was one of the principal authors of “We Demand!,” arguably one of the first major political manifestos of the Canadian gay liberation movement, which was presented at the first Pride rally on Parliament Hill in 1971. A conference honouring the 40th anniversary of this event is being held this summer at Simon Fraser University. I was trying to secure permission to reprint this document in a module on gay and lesbian history that I was developing for Nelson’s Visions Canadian history reader. Spiers did grant permission to reprint the manifesto, which will (hopefully) soon be part of a number of Canadian students’ history undergraduate education. [READ MORE]