“We Show Up”: Lesbians in Rural British Columbia, 1950s-1970s – Rachel Torrie

By Rachel Torrie

Author’s Note: This work is adapted from my M.A. thesis – “Making Space for Rural Lesbians: Homosexuality and Rurality in British Columbia, 1950-1970s,” (Simon Fraser University, 2007). The thesis includes a more in-depth look at the literature on rurality and queerness and a more fulsome discussion of the lives of the individual narrators. It is available to download here.[1]

I said to my mother one time, “You know, you told me that Miss Harding got ill and Miss Dawson, who was a friend of hers, came home with her and looked after her and because they’re such good friends. Miss Harding lived an awful long time. We used to see them walking around in the evening, arm-in-arm as ladies did. I’d see them down on the beach. Did you ever think, Mom, maybe they were lesbians?” She said, “‘Oh yes dear, I was quite sure they were . . .Because, you remember, after Miss Harding died”—and heck, as far as I know it took her about thirty years—“she took up with so-and-so who was the head teller in the bank and then when she died, Miss Dawson moved on with so-and-so, and then there was Sarah, Margaret, and…” And mom went through this list of ladies in town of whom I had never thought except as members of the church ladies auxiliary. She said, “There’s a whole bunch of them over there in Shediac.” …. I think they must have known each other and had a social network and group.[2]

The mythology of North American non-urban spaces has constructed the rural as a horror; dangerous to anyone considered different, and a hostile space from which queers must escape.[3] But the above description of Shediac, New Brunswick in the 1940s hints at another possibility: the existence of queer communities outside of the city. In fact, as demonstrated by the findings of the oral history project I undertook on lesbians living in rural British Columbia during the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, lesbians have successfully carved out space for their existence in this country’s small towns, coastal islands, and other rural communities.[4]

The urban focus of the majority of queer activism, history and other cultural products heightens the significance of documenting rural queerness. This focus has been interpreted by many as evidence of the inherently urban nature of queer positioning. As Lesley Marple explains, the rural is seen as “the site of torture from which queers flee, and…[as the] home to the less fortunate or disadvantaged queer.”[5] When this urban/rural binary is applied to the historical context of the decades following World War II, the rich histories of the gay communities developed in cities across North America can be misconstrued as evidence that the only narrative of that era is that of a great, one-way gay migration from the rural to the urban, from repression and isolation to community and gay liberation. Complicating this narrative are the histories of gay men and women whose lives did not follow the rural-to-urban trajectory, and who eked out queer existence in a plethora of non-urban spaces. A small and growing body of work documenting these lives is emerging from the United States, focussing on gay men who lived either in the Southern or Midwestern states with rural lesbian histories making up a smaller part of the field.[6] But the geography of Canadian queer histories is also expanding, with smaller cities like Kingston, Ontario, and St. John’s, Newfoundland being added to the histories of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.[7]

Instead of documenting a grand exodus from the countryside to the city, historians of rural homosexuality have argued that many queer people actually occupy all types of space, often moving back and forth between rural and urban locations, as well as circulating between rural communities.[8] Although women have often faced mobility restrictions, due to lower income and restricted personal freedom, for example,the migration patterns of the women I interviewed support using the concept of circulation to understand better how queer people have moved through space.

The narrators – Mearnie (b.1927), Jane Rule (b.1931), Robbie (b. 1937), Anne (b.1938), Robin (b. 1939), Janet (b.1941), Brook (b.1952), Nym (b. 1952), and Yvette (1953) – were a highly mobile group of women who, although racially homogenous from white backgrounds, had divergent class statuses, residential histories and perspectives on sexual identity.[9] They lived in multiple places, including big cities, small towns and coastal islands, as well as in more ambiguous spaces, such as suburbs, though all of them lived rurally for a period of time. These women’s lives do not follow the pattern of fleeing the desolate hinterlands to find sexual freedom in the city. They relocated for many reasons, only some of which were directly related to their sexuality, and they were not deterred by any perceptions of rural spaces as hostile and isolating when choosing where to build their lives.

Because so little has been written about gay men or lesbians who lived in rural BC in the postwar era, assertions like that of Tom Warner—that homosexuals living in rural areas and small towns in BC, like those across the country, “felt isolated and vulnerable, with no real sense of belonging to a community”— have stood unchallenged as representative depictions.[10] Although these assertions may reflect some queer people’s experiences, they are directly contradicted by those of the nine women interviewed for this oral history project, all of which had rich and diverse connections to their rural communities – including connections to other lesbians.

The lesbian networks that these women either established or those to which they were connected in their rural communities demonstrate the range of possibilities for non-urban lesbian existence. participated in three types of rural lesbian communities: women who had a general awareness of and casual connection to other lesbians in their region; women whose private friendship networks were consciously, if not publicly, constructed as lesbian spaces; and the public and political lesbian communities constructed in the spirit of lesbian feminism.[11]

“Country Sisters”: Unstructured Lesbian Networks

Robin, Brook, and Jane were all part of networks of lesbians who were aware of one another, but whose primary social networks were not defined by sexual identity. These three women found it limiting to base their socializing solely around a shared sexual identity. However, they also recognized times when such relationships were of great value to them. The balance of these two perspectives helps to explain their more tangential relationship to local lesbians: they neither unilaterally prioritized nor entirely rebuffed lesbian connections, resulting in informal ties to other gay women.

Robin recalled knowing and socializing with other lesbians living on Salt Spring Island when she moved there in 1972. She found out about lesbians on the Island through her Vancouver connections, but also found out about events in the city through her Island contacts. She found herself plugged into a network of lesbians throughout the Gulf Island and Lower Mainland who were aware of one another. Her first partner on Salt Spring was a woman who, initially, simply showed up at her door:

She knew I was living in that house. She had a cottage [down the way from me]. And she came and knocked on my door one night and said, “Hi, I’m Carol and you’re Robin and I knew that you were living here.”

Robin also befriended heterosexual couples on the island, but she “was always left out of their real social lives,” making her lesbian friendships all the more important as they allowed her to “make relationships with other people without feeling like you’re going to be dropped when the serious – the real part of living comes along.”

Brook understood lesbian community on a larger, global scale: “If you’re a dyke, you’ve got a friend no matter where you go. You might not always like each other and you might be like, ‘Oh, we’re really different.’ But you’ve got this bottom line, you’re in the same camp.” However, this connection did not drive her to seek out an exclusively lesbian community when she first moved to Salt Spring Island in 1978: “[There] were some dykes who were very exclusive, only wanted to be with other women, hang out with other women, [my partner] and I weren’t like that.” Still, after the move Brook felt that “we didn’t have enough of the country sisters…who really enriched each other.” Despite this paucity of “country sisters,” Brook and her partner did make lesbian connections on the island, including befriending a young dyke who was just coming out: “She hung out with us…She already knew some other dykes, just sort of peripherally and a little bit, but we were her main—we welcomed her all the time.” These peripheral connections further demonstrate the existence of the casual network of lesbians on Salt Spring in the 1970s in which Brook was active: she can remember a time when she “knew the name of every lesbian who lived on Salt Spring Island. I might not have known them, but I knew the name of every one of them.”[12]

Informal connections to other lesbians, similar to those of Robin and Brook, existed throughout BC in the 1970s. As Yvette encountered in her travels throughout the province with the British Columbia Federation of Women (BCFW)’s Lesbian Caucus, lesbians were quite often known to one another, even when hidden from the public. Yvette recalled how, even though it was “too threatening” for lesbians to attend the workshops, “we always knew there were lesbians in these towns. Always knew.” To connect with these women, Yvette’s policy of always disclosing her sexuality was invaluable: “People could find me…I would just put myself in public places and people would find me.” Although some of these lesbians’ only other gay contacts were their partners, others were tied into lesbian networks and introduced the Caucus to other gay women in the region.

Jane Rule was disinterested in locating a lesbian community or even making specifically lesbian connections. She explained,

I have always felt a bit claustrophobic in any group that is homogenous…I think common cause is about the worst way to get together with people.…I’ve never really been interested in groups of women who are exclusive….I’m not uninterested in my sexuality, but it’s certainly only part of who I am. And, I don’t assume that I will have much in common with another lesbian.

Despite not seeking out gay contacts in her life, Jane found her group of friends comprised of more gay and lesbian friends than ever before after moving from Vancouver to Galiano Island in 1976: “I didn’t live in a gay-defined culture – ever. More here than anywhere. And it certainly is not just gay here, but I have many more friends who are gay here than I did in the city.” This is due, at least in part, to her status as a lesbian public figure, which led many gay women to seek her out. Jane was adamant that her gay friends were not part of an exclusive homosexual community, but instead were part of her larger community of friendships based on shared interests. She emphasized that her friendships with other lesbians existed “because we’re interested in the same kind of literature, and politics, and painting—and children and old people.” Though not the result of seeking an exclusive lesbian community, Jane was part of a lesbian network.

“Everybody There Was of Like Thinking”: Private Lesbian Communities

Other lesbians, like Mearnie and Robbie, built and participated in specifically lesbian private friendship networks. In 1950 when Mearnie first moved to Indian Arm, a community north of Vancouver that was only accessible by boat, there were very few other people living there at all, let alone other lesbians. However, during her more than forty years in the community her gay friends slowly relocated there. This migration led to the establishment of a gay community, albeit a private one: “You were accepted by your own and the others, if that was your neighbour. But, it was always, still, never discussed.” By the time that she moved to Salt Spring in 1996 she had built up an extensive network of gay and lesbian contacts in Indian Arm:

It was just that you knew who around were living together.…I had a regatta every year at my place…We had dancing at the end of the day. Their friends would bring their friends that were gay or lesbian, you know? Because we knew they would be able to relax.

The practice of not acknowledging or discussing homosexuality made this community less visible, but no less important. Like the middle-class lesbian communities that have been documented in urban centres, Mearnie’s Indian Arm community was facilitated by a financial status that allowed for private house parties. Despite the status-based nature of the Indian Arm network, it is still a significant example of a rural lesbian community.

Part of this same group of women, Robbie socialized with other lesbians in Indian Arm while she lived there between 1970 and 1978. She attended the house parties that were held on a regular basis. She remembered, “The women that would come there were usually—even if they weren’t speaking out loud about it—they were usually lesbian women. Professional lesbian women: teachers, nurses, things like that. And we used to have a good time.” The women in Indian Arm, according to Robbie,

Were just groups of women who got together and had a good time. If they came together, they came together. If they left together, they left together. If they lived together, they lived together. It was not a topic of discussion. People didn’t openly discuss their lesbianism as happens nowadays…Even if you knew everybody there was of like thinking, you didn’t talk much about it.

The reasons for this discretion may have been a consequence of both class and generation. Many of these women had grown up during a time when they did not have language to describe their sexuality. Also, their professional status meant that they might have felt they had a lot to lose—security, money, status—if their sexual identities were made public.

Although their lesbianism was never discussed, Mearnie, Robbie, and their friends in Indian Arm surely constituted a gay and lesbian community. The women in Indian Arm did not come together to strategize how to fight heterosexism. In fact, their attachment to privacy reflects a desire not to challenge the status quo in overt ways, but rather to privately create space to live their lives. The private nature of the network made it easier for women to control who knew about their sexual identity, but it also would have made it more difficult for women not already socially connected to the group to connect with them. For the women who were involved, however, the community provided them with a safe and supportive environment in which to be social with their partners.

Creating Groups That Would Bring Lesbians Together: Public Lesbian Communities

Deeply involved with the lesbian feminism of the 1970s, Nym participated in building lesbian community on much more public terms. Her political activism and much of her time were devoted to the lesbian-feminist community in Vancouver and to travelling throughout the province, working to build ties between various communities. In the late 1970s, Nym, her partner and a friend bought ten acres of land just outside of Mission, BC in the Fraser Valley and turned it into a lesbian feminist gathering space known as Amazon Acres.[13] The land “became well-known in the lesbian community in Vancouver and we would have work parties where dozens and dozens of women would come up from Vancouver and help us with the garden and put up fences.”

During later years Nym lived at Amazon Acres alone, her Vancouver contacts dwindled, and she began to connect with the local gay women. Unlike her lesbian community in Vancouver, she encountered a much more scattered group of gay women in the Fraser Valley and had to work to build a local lesbian community:

I needed friends in my own geographic community, so I did actively seek out—well, it wasn’t so much “seek out” because it wasn’t like it existed and I had to go and find it. What I did…was to try to create community, create groups that would bring lesbians together. Create events that would bring lesbians together…If there was a community there, I didn’t know how to connect with it. I knew a lot of women. I mean, I must have known twenty, thirty women—lesbians—who lived around that area. But there wasn’t a bar. There wasn’t an organization. There wasn’t anything.

The events that Nym helped to organize included putting together a local softball team to play in a lesbian softball tournament in Vancouver and inviting a women’s theatre group from Vancouver to give performances.

Regardless of the nature of the lesbian community to which they were connected, none of the narrators expressed any difficulty finding lesbians to befriend or women to date in their rural communities. When asked about this issue, Anne observed, “There’s a lot more of us in the country than people realize.” Yvette echoed Anne’s sentiments: “If I come from St. Lazare, somebody comes from Terrace. 369 people, French Catholic—we show up. We’re kind of home grown.” Similarly, Brook explained, “By and large, lesbians find each other because they want to. It’s that simple… I haven’t met the greatest love of my life because I walked into a gay bar or because I went to the Gay Games.” The implication of these assertions is that public lesbian communities may have been useful and important to many people, but they were not necessary: rural lesbians found a way a way to connect if they wanted.

“Too Close to Be Separate”: Relating to Rural Populations

Rural spaces have also been mythologized as rife with homophobic violence without queer communities to buffer – if not insulate – lesbians and gay men from homophobic violence.[14] Without discrediting the experiences of homophobia and violence that many gay men and women have experienced outside of cities, the women interviewed for this project reported feeling safe in rural areas and having experienced the majority of homophobic violence and threats when in cities.

Safety in their rural communities was not a major concern for any of the women interviewed. According to Robin, “It’s never been an issue here [on Salt Spring Island]. Nobody has ever said a word to me about being gay.” Nym remembered being scared of losing her job when she was living on Amazon Acres, but she “always felt very safe on the land, at the farm.” During her travels throughout the province with the BCFW Yvette sometimes received threats or had difficulty finding lodging. Brook described the overt homophobia she experienced on Salt Spring Island as “really, really minimal.” Indeed, their most threatening experiences were linked to the city: fear of police raids at gay bars, seeing friends jailed or institutionalized for being gay, and being beaten up after being thrown out of a bar for kissing another woman. Certainly, urban safety would have been the experience of many gay women in BC, and those women who suffered the most homophobia in their lives might be less inclined to share their histories.[15] However, the cities held their share of threats, and some women found safety in the rural parts of the province.

Many of these women’s urban experiences of homophobia involved various forms of governmental powers such as the police and psychiatric hospitals, but the homophobia they experienced rurally typically came in the form of individual attempts at social control by other community members. This interpersonal, individual nature of rural homophobia helps to explain why they had very few instances of homophobia to report: overwhelmingly these women described their relationships to the rural communities in which they lived as positive and integrated. In fact, many of them attributed their acceptance in their communities to the interdependence and forced interaction of a rural community. These connections to the general populations of their rural communities provided many narrators with rich and rewarding relationships. While the narrators may have had divergent feelings about the need for specifically lesbian communities, almost all of them expressed finding value and actively participating in their local communities.

Jane’s pragmatic assessment of the community on Galiano Island reveals that although initially she had little interest in making new contacts, she quickly became enmeshed in the community:

We all have to live in the same space. We all agree that we have to put out forest fires. …If there’s a power failure, everybody in the neighbourhood is trying to help everybody else. It doesn’t really matter who you’re sleeping with…When you’re in a circumstance like that…you have to help each other because there’ no place else to turn. I think that’s a very good thing…I don’t idealize the community, but I like the requirements of it.

This forced interaction of a diverse range of people is one of the things Jane came to appreciate most about Galiano Island.

A similar sense of interdependence also shaped Brook’s interaction with the Salt Spring Island population. She observed, “I’m hugely accepted in this community because that’s the way this community is. Everybody knows that some day down the road, somebody’s going to maybe be saving your life, or need your help, or be on a committee. You’re too close to be separate.” Additionally, because Brook owned a second-hand bookstore for many years, she had “a huge amount of contact with people on the Island, and often on a very intimate level. There were people who would come in there that just absolutely detested me, but they loved the store so they had to come in for the store. The barriers break down after a while.”

In Indian Arm during the 1970s Robbie was also highly accepted by and integrated into her local community. She and her partner socialized easily with heterosexual couples:

When there were get-togethers, we were included. It didn’t feel odd or weird or whatever…In a community like that, people are not so judgemental. There were a few of us—period. There were just a few people there. We united to have company and for our mutual needs and social appreciation.

This level of acceptance may have been related to the people who made up Indian Arm’s population at the time. Referencing interracial couples, American war-resisters, and other “outsiders,” Robbie explained that “It didn’t matter if you were different, because everybody was different anyway, in some way or other…People in glass houses don’t throw stones. So…we didn’t get any side-glances or anything.” Yvetter affirmed this loose alliance, explaining that rural lesbians’ worlds “couldn’t be that tight because you couldn’t survive. They had to be a little bigger, so there was some interesting mixes of people: artistic communities, love communities, off the land, people opting out, war resisters coming in from the States.”

This is not to deny the ostracism and discomfort that some lesbians faced while living rurally, however, homophobia did not preclude the integration of lesbians into a rural community. As Yvette characterized the population of the small, rural community she lived in part-time in Ontario: “They may shoot homosexuals, but we’re actually their queers.” Homophobic beliefs may have not been eradicated from local thinking, but the interdependent nature of rural spaces facilitated the integration of lesbians into the community, and pushed people to accept lesbians on, at the very least, an individual level.

Reimagining the Gay Landscape

Many of the women interviewed did not base their social networks explicitly on a shared sexual identity. Instead, they formed social connections with a variety people in their rural communities. However, living rurally did not prevent these women from also finding or forming local lesbian communities. Rural areas were not inherently desolate, lonely places for all lesbians, but instead could be filled with a diversity of fulfilling and supportive relationships. These women’s histories push us to continue to diversify the spaces in which we consider queerness. Comparing the gay community to a nation that must lay claim to its own mythology in order to become real, Robin Metcalfe writes, “Until we have imagined ourselves into our landscape, we do not really live there.”[16] These women’s lives show that “lesbians are everywhere” is not an empty slogan, but instead the starting point of a rich and complex history. By telling rural lesbian histories, we are reimagining the gay landscape to make real the lives of those who have lived “out there.”

References

[1] In addition to recognizing the contributions of all those acknowledged in my thesis, I would like to reiterate my gratitude to Dr. Elise Chenier who supervised the project and to the nine women whom I interviewed, without whom this project would have been impossible. I would also like to thank Robin Folvik and Beth O’Reilly for their assistance wrangling my thesis into the bite-sized portion that appears here.

[2] Robin, interview by author, digital recording, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, 4 June 2006.

[3] On the opposite side of the binary, to a lesser extent, rural spaces have also been constructed as romanticized idylls –empty spaces void of people where queer individuals can reconnect with nature and find their “true” selves. This mythology informed the discourse on lesbian separatism back to the land movements in the 1970s and 80s.

[4] Over a period of twelve months (June 2006 through May 2007) I conducted oral history interviews with nine different women. While pseudonyms were offered to all of the women to alleviate any privacy or safety concerns, none of them chose to utilize the option and all consented to having their real first names used.

[5] Lesley Marple, “Rural Queers? The Loss of the Rural in Queer,” Canadian Woman Studies 24, no. 2&3 (Winter/Spring 2005): 72.

[6] See: John Howard, Men Like That: A Southern Queer History (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1999); Carlos L. Dews and Carolyn Leste Law, ed. Out in the South (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001); John Howard, ed. Carryin’ On in the Lesbian and Gay South (New York and London: New York University Press, 1997); James T. Sears, Lonely Hunters: An Oral History of Lesbian and Gay Southern Life, 1948-1968 (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1997); Daneel Buring, “Gay Activism Behind the Magnolia Curtain: The Memphis Gay Coalition, 1979-1991,” Journal of Homosexuality 32, no. 1 (1996): 113-135; Michael Moon, “Whose History? The Case of Oklahoma” A Queer World: The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, ed. Martin Duberman (New York and London: New York University Press, 1997), 24-34.

[7] Marney McDiarmid, “From Mouth to Mouth: An Oral History of Lesbians and Gays in Kingston from World War II to 1980,” (master’s thesis, Queen’s University, 1999) and Sharon Dale Stone and the Women’s Survey Group, “Lesbian Life in a Small Centre: The Case of St John’s,” Lesbians in Canada, ed. Sharon Dale Stone (Toronto: Between the Lines, 1990), 94-105. Though more sociological than historical, Michael Riordan’s Out Our Way: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Country (Toronto: Between the Lines, 1996) is the most comprehensive consideration of queer rural Canadian life. The urban body of literature includes: Elise Chenier, “Tough Ladies and Trouble Makers: Toronto’s Public Lesbian Community, 1955-1965,” (master’s thesis, Queen’s University, 1995); Line Chamberland, “Remembering Lesbian Bars: Montreal, 1955-75,” Re-Thinking Canada: The Promise of Women’s History, ed. Victoria Strong-Boag and Anita C. Fellman (Toronto: Copp Clark, 1997), 402-23; and Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives, VHS, directed by Aerlyn Weissman and Lynne Fernie (Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 1992).

[8] This concept was used highly effectively by historian John Howard in his work on queer men in Mississippi from 1945 to 1985, Men Like That. Circulation was also deployed by Peter Boag in his book, Same-Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific Northwest, to document the ease with which gay men in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the twentieth century moved among rural sites, and between rural and urban spaces (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2003).

[9] Jane Rule was a well-known author of several novels, most famously Desert of the Heart, which is today considered to be a lesbian classic. Given that the public nature of most of Jane’s life directly affected her experiences, especially those related to notions of community, it was necessary, with her consent, to provide Jane’s full name.

[10] Tom Warner, Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada (Toronto, Buffalo, and London: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 167.

[11] Two other experiences of lesbian community were represented by the narrators: those women who were uninterested in lesbian community and those unable to connect to one despite desiring to do so. Anne had no interest in basing her social network around common sexual identity and, although she enjoyed women’s dances and occasional house parties, she “was not the least bit community-minded in any easily recognizable fashion….Just because a woman says that she’s a lesbian and a feminist is no reason for me to even suspect that we have anything in common, or that I’m going to be able to put up with her.” Janet, though she desperately wanted a local lesbian community on Vancouver Island, did not know how to connect with one. Recently single and without any lesbian friends, she recalled thinking: “What am I going to do now? I really wish I could find community and there has to be—there was community in Calgary. There has to be community, if not in this area, at least in Nanaimo, or Victoria. And I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know who to talk to. I felt alone.”

[12] Brook’s lesbian connections when she was a teenager in Hope from 1967 to 1969 reflect a similar existence of a loose network of lesbians who were aware of one another, but not publicly or formally organized: she was befriended by a local butch-femme couple and also connected with some local lesbians through the Association for Social Knowledge (ASK), the Vancouver homophile organization she had participated in when living in the city.

[13] Amazon Acres was not the only women’s land space established in British Columbia during the 1970s. Although it has yet to be historically documented, a lesbian commune in Coombs on Vancouver Island, called Rubyfruit Ranch (seemingly named after Rubyfruit Jungle, Rita Mae Brown’s 1973 lesbian bildungsroman), was mentioned by several of the narrators. Robin, Brook, Nym, and Janet, though not directly involved with Rubyfruit, were all aware of its existence

[14] See: Shane Phelan, Getting Specific: Postmodern Lesbian Politics (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), 87; Wayne Myslik, “Renegotiating the Social/Sexual Identities of Places: Gay Communities as Safe Havens or Sites of Resistance?” Bodyspace; Destabilizing Geographies of Gender and Sexuality, ed. Nancy Duncan (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), 157, 166; and Judith Halberstam, In a Queer Time and Space: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (New York and London: New York University Press, 2005), 32-45.

[15] This was the case with one of the women who opted not to participate in this project because she wanted to put her negative experiences behind her.

[16] Robin Metcalfe, “Halifax, Nova Scotia,” Hometowns: Gay Men Write About Where They Belong, ed. John Preston (Cutton: Penguin Books, 1991), 314.

Rachel Torrie has an MA from Simon Fraser University in History. She is now a recovering academic living in Ottawa who still sends snail mail, makes mixed tapes, and bakes things from scratch.

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