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Harold B. Desmarais
(1944 - living) Canada

Harold Desmarais

Activist

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Harold Desmarais has been an active community organizer in Ontario since 1970, taking a leading role in numerous organizations, starting with Windsor Gay Unity (1972 - 1980). He was one of the founders of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario in 1975 (and their first paid employee in 1980) and started University of Windsor's Gay Students on Campus in 1978.

Harold lives his life proudly and openly. In the early 1970's, he endured years of homophobic harassment at his job in an auto assembly plant in Windsor after speaking publicly about the discriminatory nature of Canada's immigration policy. In 1980 Harold moved to Toronto. For five years he was dedicated to eliminating the world of gay shame and guilt as Sister Atrociata von Tasteless - a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Harold was also secretary for the Gay Community Dance Committee from 1982 - 1994, and served as Master of Ceremonies for Lesbian and Gay Pride Day from 1986 - 1989. He was active for almost 20 years in the Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal - fundraising, performing outreach, and selecting projects to be funded.

He received the Appeal's prestigious Outstanding Community Achievement and the Outstanding Volunteer Service Awards. But his most memorable, and public, service to the Appeal was as one of the "fruits" featured in the Appeal's successful fundraising shows - "Fruit Cocktail". The Fruits became an icon for Toronto's burgeoning gay and lesbian community in the 1980's, and still attend Pride activities every June.

The 1990's saw Harold involved as an active board member and volunteer for both the AIDS Committee of Toronto and the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation. He's helped other groups like the 519 Community Centre and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives with their fundraising and outreach efforts.

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