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Douglas Wilson
(October 11, 1950 - September 24, 1992) Canada

Douglas Wilson

Activist, publisher and writer


Born in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Doug Wilson gained prominence in September 1975 in a fight for gay rights at the University of Saskatchewan. The dean of the University's College of Education refused to allow Wilson, a postgraduate student in the Department of Educational Foundations, to go into the school system to supervise practice teachers because of his public involvement with the gay liberation movement.

Although qualified to do the job, Wilson was disqualified solely on the basis of his sexual orientation. When the decision was upheld by the president of the University of Saskatchewan, the Committee to Support Doug Wilson was formed and generated much support for him across Canada. His appeal to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission was ultimately unsuccessful, and by 1976 Wilson and the Committee had abandoned the case.

Doug Wilson's subsequent achievements include founding Stubblejumper Press in 1977, a small press dedicated to publishing works by Canadian lesbians and gay men; serving from 1978 to 1983 as the executive director of the Saskatchewan Association on Human Rights, a lobbying group; acting as an advisor in the Toronto Board of Education's Race Relations and Equal Opportunity Office; co-founding the Rites Collective, publishers of the newsmagazine Rites: For Lesbian and Gay Liberation, in 1984; and standing for Parliament as a candidate for the New Democratic Party in the Toronto riding of Rosedale.

Drinkwater & Wilson
Charlie Drinkwater (left) and Doug Wilson (right), Fifth Annual National Gay Conference ("Towards A Gay Community"), Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, July 1, 1977. Photo by Charlie Dobie.

Wilson was the first openly gay candidate to be nominated by a major political party in Canada, but fell ill during the campaign. He spent the rest of his life as an indefatigable AIDS activist, co-founding AIDS Action Now! in 1988, and serving as the founding chairperson of the Canadian Network of Organizations for People Living With AIDS.

Wilson was involved for more than twelve years in a relationship with singer, songwriter, and writer Peter McGehee. The author of Boys Like Us, a tragicomic novel tracing a group of gay male Toronto friends during the AIDS crisis, McGehee succumbed to the disease in 1991. During his own illness Wilson edited McGehee's posthumous novel Sweetheart (1992), and one month before his death completed his first novel (based on McGehee's notes), Labour of Love (1993), the third volume of the Boys Like Us trilogy.


Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History, from WWII to Present Day, Routledge, London, 2001

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