Denis LeBlanc

Gay activist, twenty year volunteer with Gays of Ottawa; co-author of Gays and the Law, founding member of the Coalition for Lesbian & Gay Rights in Ontario and the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Rights Coalition, recipient of the John Damien Award in 1992, past president of EGALE.

Denis LeBlanc was born in 1951 in Moncton N.B. to Acadian working-class parents. An activist since his teen years, Denis participated in his first demonstration in 1968 to protest the prohibition of the French language at Moncton City Hall.

He moved to Ontario in 1969 and by 1971 was out of the closet and involved with the Waterloo Universities' Gay Liberation Movement. His subsequent move to Ottawa in 1972 was the beginning of his twenty year involvement with Gays of Ottawa (later known as the Association of Lesbians and Gays of Ottawa). Active on virtually every committee, he served on the Board of Directors for ten years, as vice-president from 1973-75 and as president in 1975-1976.

Denis found his gay liberation activist vocation with the group's Political Action Committee that he chaired from 1973 to 1980. He worked every local, provincial and national campaign and project, helping to organize demonstrations and protests on dozens of issues. Representing Gays of Ottawa, he presented briefs to Parliament on dangerous sexual offenders and on the Canadian Human Rights Act.

In 1973, he co-wrote Gays and the Law, an inventory of criminal code laws affecting gays. In 1974, he helped organize the national conference at which the National Gay Election Coalition was hatched. Later that year, he became a founding member of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Rights Coalition and helped draft the founding constitution and the Coalition's list of demands.

Denis was also a founding member of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario in 1975, served on CLGRO's steering committee for ten years, and worked on numerous CLGRO projects until 1989. His incredible achievements were honoured by CLGRO in 1992 when Denis received the John Damien Award.

From 1982 until 1988, Denis wrote and edited regularly for GO INFO. The first openly gay candidate for Ottawa City Council in 1985, he was defeated by only 36 votes. As EGALE's 2nd president from 1992 until 1994, he helped to democratize the group and to provide EGALE with a formal mandate and structure, while assuring the financial integrity of it's Court Challenges Program. HIV positive since at least 1988, Denis volunteered with the AIDS Committee of Ottawa for 7 years in the 1990's.

"Lesbians and gay men working together since the 1970's have transformed Canada, for the better, forever. I treasure my good fortune to have worked and played with so many marvelous and challenging people. They have enriched my life immeasurably."

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