Gays of Ottawa: A History

Gays of Ottawa (GO) which became ALGO then ALGBO as the name reflected the realities of the diversity in the community, had a nearly 25 year history from 1971 to 1995 as a queer political, social and health services organization.

Started months after the We Demand demonstration on Parliament Hill, a small group of men gathered to create a gay rights group, which they called Gays of Ottawa. As the organization grew, it moved to several different locations, sometimes due to unhappy and homophobic landlords, and one location went ablaze in 1979.

As the needs of the community changed, so did the organization, which ran a successful periodical, GO Info, for many years as well as the Gayline support call-in line and legendary dances. Members from the organization founded new organizations such as Pink Triangle Services, the AIDS Committee of Ottawa, and more.

This page will lead you through the seven locations of interest as the organization grew until its collapse in 1995.

Gays of Ottawa: 270 Somerset Street W

Less than a month after the 'We Demand' demonstration on Parliament Hill, Maurice Bélanger and Michael Black invite five others at their home at 906–270 Somerset Street W on September 14, 1971, to discuss forming a gay rights organization in…

Gays of Ottawa: 152 Metcalfe Street

After the initial meeting at the home of Maurice Bélanger and Michael Black to create a new gay rights organization, they secure a place for meetings in the Parish Lounge (in the basement) of St. George's Church (now St. Peter and St Paul's) at 152…

GO Centre: 160 Chapel Street

The newly created Gays of Ottawa organization organized its first gay dance at 160 Chapel Street in Pestalozzi College on June 17, 1972, with over 100 people attending.  Because the space is licenced, GO was able to run many popular dances here until…

GO Centre: 378 Elgin Street

In December 1975, Gays of Ottawa moved to 378 Elgin at the corner of Gladstone in the second floor, to enlarge the facilities and have a more centralized location. It opened officially on January 2, 1976.  During the time of the Centre's time here,…

GO Centre: 288½ Bank Street

The GO Centre struggled to find a new location after the fire that destroyed their space on Elgin Street. On top of that, they were busy trying to coordinate a major national conference that year, Celebration '79. A space above what was Yesterday's…

GO Centre: 175 Lisgar Street

After a short stint on Bank Street where the GO Centre was located, GO moves again to 175 Lisgar Street above a Chinese restaurant, where it stays from its official reopening after remodelling in May 1980 until 1985. Kerry Beckett recalls this…

GO Centre: 318 Lisgar Street

The GO Centre would find what would be its final home in April of 1985, opening officially in November 1986. The space moved west on Lisgar to number 318, near Bank Street, and was above a laundromat. The landlord and owner of the laundromat was…
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