The Aesthetics of Collective Identity and Activism in Toronto's Queer and HIV/AIDS Community

Flannery, Peter
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University of Guelph

This thesis investigates the social and political impacts of art and visual culture produced in Toronto from the 1970s to the present day through changing dynamics of gay liberation, raids of gay bathhouses by the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force during “Operation Soap,” and the continuing HIV/AIDS crisis. Throughout these historic moments, visual culture was an incubator by which artists formulated the values, performative identities, and political actions that defined their activism. Beginning with a brief history of LGBTQ2S+ issues in Toronto, this thesis analyzes selected works by General Idea, Andy Fabo, Tim Jocelyn, ChromaZone Collective, Will Munro, and Kent Monkman. By performing their identities within the public sphere, these artists developed communities of support and, through intensely affective and political acts, catalyzed social change to advocate for equal rights as well as funding, medical care, and reduced stigma in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

LGBT, LGBTQ2S+, HIV/AIDS, AIDS, Queer Theory, Canadian Art, Contemporary Art, Toronto, Gay Liberation, Bathhouse Raids