Before the Parade

A History of Halifax’s Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Communities, 1972–1984

Reviewed by Dave Baxter

Posted March 26, 2021

Hidden and sometimes forgotten stories from Halifax’s LGBTQ communities in the 1970s and early 1980s are brought to light in Rebecca Rose’s book Before the Parade.

Rose, a “Cape Breton-born queer femme, feminist, and freelance writer,” uses extensive research and in-depth interviews to tell stories from a generation of LGBTQ people in the Nova Scotia city who lived in a time before annual Pride parades and who, in many cases, were forced to keep their private lives hidden.

While many from the generation she profiles were stigmatized for their sexuality, Rose explains that it was also one of the first generations to openly come out and fight for the rights of LGBTQ people. “And that is what this book is about: making known the history of the lesbian, gay and bisexual community and activism in Halifax; of the province’s first generation of out and activist 2SLGB elders,” Rose writes.

Before the Parade explores such pioneering actions in Halifax as the first nationally coordinated gay and lesbian day of action as well as the establishment of a women’s housing co-op in the early 1980s that welcomed clients from the city’s lesbian community.

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This article originally appeared in the April-May 2021 issue of Canada’s History.

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