Queerstory: Greg and Stuart March Again, 30 Years Later

August 18, 2015

Greg and Stuart

When library student Greg moved to Vancouver in 1983, the first thing on his mind was finding a way to connect with the community. For him, becoming a part of the Out on the Shelves project held by the Vancouver Gay and Lesbian Community Centre (now QMUNITY) was a no-brainer: not only could he meet and interact with other queer people in an environment less intense than a club, he could participate in the nascent drive to bring queer literature out of the closet.


Photo: Xtra West files

For him and many others, Out on the Shelves was an opportunity to find representation, search for information, or just come to grips with who they were. So when he was asked by Out on the Shelves to march with them in the still rather new Vancouver Pride Parade, he felt no qualms about asking Stuart—a devastatingly handsome guy he’d met at a local house party—to join him.

In contrast with Greg, Stuart had spent many years in the closet, both to himself and to others, so this was in fact his first time revealing to the world at large a secret that he had kept for most of his life.

In spite of everything at stake, Stuart said yes.

Now, 30 years later, they’re back in Vancouver to celebrate the anniversary of the event that started the love that has spanned decades.

This parade, however, is very different from the one they remember: instead of a small group of people marching resolutely under the weight of inscrutable gazes and the threat of potential violence, Pride is now a celebration of joy and love that attracts thousands of smiling, shimmying citizens.


QMUNITY at the 2015 Vancouver Pride Parade

Greg and Stuart chose to walk with QMUNITY, experiencing the Pride Parade again for the first time surrounded by a cloud of magenta-swathed LGBTQ folks and allies exhorting the world to be themselves.

This kind-hearted and inspiring couple can’t help but be impressed with how far things have progressed; they speak glowingly of both the reception they received from the QMUNITY staff and of the dazzling array of programs and services offered by members and volunteers alike.

Having a space like QMUNITY to connect and grow with yourself and your community was invaluable when they met and remains so now.

In fact, inspired by QMUNITY’s example, both Greg and Stuart are now contemplating post-retirement volunteering with their local queer resource centre as a way of giving back and continuing the important work of opening doors to those still on the path.

While initially they were disappointed to hear that the Out on the Shelves collection had been moved to the Vancouver Public Library, they say it now makes perfect sense: back then LGBTQ people were not accepted as part of society, and neither were our books, stories, experiences, and outlook; Out on the Shelves provided a platform for those voices to be heard and incorporated into a greater narrative, a crucial function that cannot be underplayed. Now, thanks to the activism and advocacy of places like QMUNITY, our books and voices form part of thousands of genres on VPL’s shelves, one more colour in the rainbow of world literature.

And now Greg and Stuart’s story can join that beautiful canon.

Happy 30th anniversary!

#Queerstory — Our LGBTQ histories in the making.

Researched and written by volunteer writer Elysse Hurtado.

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