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Brunswick Four

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The Brunswick Four were four lesbians involved in a historic incident in Toronto, Ontario in 1974. The four were evicted from the ‘’Brunswick Tavern’’, a working-class beer hall on Bloor St., subsequently arrested, and three were later tried in Ontario Court for Obstruction of Justice.[1]

Importance of the incidentEdit

Gay historian Tom Warner believes that the arrest and its consequences was a key incident ushering in a more militant Gay and Lesbian liberation movement in Canada, much as the Stonewall Inn Riots politicized Gays and Lesbians in the United States. Warner also notes that this was one of the first occasions that a gay or lesbian topic received extensive press coverage in Canada.[2]

In the tavernEdit

On January 5th, 1974, Adrienne Potts, Pat Murphy, Sue Wells and Heather (Beyer) Elizabeth performed a song at amateur night at the Brunswick Tavern. Their chosen song, “I Enjoy Being A Dyke” (a parody of "I Enjoy Being a Girl", a song by Rodgers and Hammerstein from the musical play the Flower Drum Song) drew the attention of the bar's owner.[3] The four were asked by the owner to leave the premises. They refused to leave, and were arrested. The lesbians alleged verbal and physical police harassment as a result of the incident.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Arrest and trialEdit

The arrest and subsequent trial received coverage in the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and a number of smaller community papers and magazines.[10]

Community responseEdit

Warner describes the “anger and concern” of the Toronto Gay community, and notes that a public meeting was called at which the HASP Defense Fund (a fund comprised of the first initials of the lesbian's names) was launched.[11]

Three of the Brunswick Four were charged, and two of the women were acquitted in May 1974. One of the four served three months probation.[12]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Warner, Tom. ‘’Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada’’, 2002 University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0802084605 p41
  2. Warner, Tom. ‘’Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada’’, 2002 University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0802084605 p41
  3. Warner, Tom. ‘’Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada’’, 2002 University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0802084605 p40
  4. Fania Schwabel
  5. ‘’Three claim that police abused them in garage’’, ‘’Toronto Star’’, May 28, 1975
  6. ‘’Woman Guilty, Two cleared in disturbance’’, ‘’Globe & Mail’’, June 1, 1974
  7. "Rachel Giese
  8. ‘’Brunswick Tavern Dykes’’, ‘’Long Time Coming’’, May/June 1974, p6,
  9. ‘’The Other Woman’’, April 1974, p17, "Uppity Women", "Body Politic (magazine)", March/April 1974, p1
  10. Warner, Tom. ‘’Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada’’, 2002 University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0802084605 p40
  11. Warner, Tom. ‘’Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada’’, 2002 University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0802084605 p40
  12. ‘’Brunswick Tavern Dykes’’, ‘’Long Time Coming’’, May/June 1974, p6,


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