The Body Takes Its Revenge

The Body Politic, Embodiment, and the Bathhouse Raids of 1981

Marisa Suarez, Student of the Global History Master, Free University Berlin.

Discourse on sexuality is often framed in terms of repression and liberation, resistance and legalization; abstract concepts that say little about the material realities of communities aligned by sexuality and instead imply an imagined, inflexible relationship between law and the self. Histories of lesbian and gay Canada are no exception. In 1969, an amendment to the Canadian Criminal Code legalized private consensual sexual acts between two adults over the age of twenty-one, popularly known at the time as the “homosexual bill,” which was the closest that Canada would come to legal protections based on sexuality until the 1990s.[1] And yet, police harassment and indifference toward the gay community continued unabated well into the 1980s, reaching its peak with the infamous bathhouse raids of February 1981. A history of Canadian magazine The Body Politic as it relates to these homophobic raids reveals a Foucauldian “history of bodies” within this narrative of repression and liberation.[2] Continue reading “The Body Takes Its Revenge”

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