Chris Bearchell

Activist - Journalist - Founder - Notable QIPOC - Chris Bearchell


Chris Bearchell is a one of the most notable people in the history of queer liberation in Canada. She began writing for The Body Politic in 1975 and for years was the only woman writing for the paper. She was also part of the founding of some of the first queer organizations in Canada.

She was part of the first coordinating committee of GATE (the Gay Alliance Towards Equality), co-founded the Lesbian Organization of Toronto and was at the founding meeting in 1975 of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario in which she became one of its key players. In 1976, Chris became the first Chair of the Committee to Defend John Damien, a racing-horse trainer fired in Ontario in 1975 solely for being gay; the first test case that fought for the inclusion of non-discrimination against lesbians and gays in the Ontario Human Rights code. During 1978 Chris became involved in the Coalition to Stop Anita Bryant and in Lesbians Against the Right (LAR).

One of the most notable moments of Chris' public activism was at the rally after Operation Soap. Chris inspired 3,000 angry demonstrators with her words and became involved in the Right to Privacy Campaign organized to defend the men arrested in the raids.

"They think that when they pick on us that they’re picking on the weakest. Well, they made a mistake this time! We’re going to show them just how strong we are. They can’t get away with this shit anymore! No more shit!"

Chris Bearchell, Feb 6, 1981, after the bathhouse raids

In 1981 and again in 1986 she worked on the campaign to win an amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code to include non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, traveling across the province to build that campaign in 1986.

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