Winnipeg has long been a welcoming city, with a community that has seemingly always fought for for LGBTQ2 rights. You’d have to look all the way back to the 1920s to find our first underground gay establishments – which you can, via the University of Manitoba’s
Manitoba Gay/Lesbian Archive’s Oral History Project.
One of Winnipeg’s first notable gay bars was Club 654, a members only after-hours club where liquor was not sold. Club 654’s opening, on a Sunday afternoon in 1970, attracted more than 200 people. A year or so before this, on Halloween night in 1968, the first drag ball was held in Winnipeg at the Sildor Ballroom.
Unlike notorious “raids” at other gay clubs in cities across Canada, there were no raids at Winnipeg’s gay bars. This tolerance has been attributed to the work of people like, the Honourable Ruth Krindle, the now retired judge who was instrumental in advocating LGBTQ2 rights, including being counsel for Winnipeg’s first gay club in 1969.
Within this environment, by the early 70s, notable establishments like Happenings Social Club (1974-2002) and the Mardis Gras offered the community a place to call their own. The 70s also saw a good deal of equal rights marches which had been fostered by Winnipeg’s politically active university campuses. It was also during this time that the Manitoba Gay Coalition was established, which included organizations from the more rural communities of Thompson and Brandon.
Winnipeg’s community has always been well represented in its artistic endeavours. A noteworthy example was the 1980s public access television show
Coming Out. This program, which featured openly gay people, was pretty much unheard of at the time. Also of note in the 80s was the opening of Giovanni’s Room in 1982. This legendary club, which would become Gio’s Club and Bar, stayed open for 31 years and was often considered the heart of Winnipeg’s LGBTQ2 scene.
Winnipeg’s first pride parade took place on Sunday, August 2, 1987 on the heels of Manitoba’s Human Rights Code -- which protected the rights of gays and lesbians – being past. This first parade featured 250 participants, several of whom wore paper bags over their head for fear of being ostracized. The Pride Winnipeg Festival has taken place ever since, growing from a single day event to a 10-day celebration.
It was a huge moment in Winnipeg’s proud LGBTQ2 history, one that may only have been eclipsed when Glen Murray – an openly gay man who had spoke to Manitoba’s legislature before the passing of The Human Rights Code – was elected mayor in 1998. He would later be re-elected in 2002.
The term Two-Spirit was also coined in Winnipeg by academic Albert William McLeod, who, in the words of the University of Winnipeg
(where he holds an honorary Doctor of Laws), “has led the way for rights and
recognition of 2S people in North America since 1986.” This includes working
“with LGBTQ Indigenous people across the continent to organize under the name
‘Two Spirit’ to remember the honoured roles of non-binary gender people in
pre-contact First Nations, and the important spiritual role they played within
Two-Spirit is derived from the Anishinaabeg term niizh manidoowag – a
reference to a person who embodies both a masculine and feminine spirit.
For more on Winnipeg’s proud LGBTQ2 history check out One
Gay City: A History of LGBT Life in Winnipeg, a documentary by the CBC
which you can watch here.
Take advantage of these local and international LGBTTQ resources:
Winnipeg Pride is the Pride of the Prairies – one of the largest celebration of LGBTTQ culture between Toronto and Vancouver. We invite everyone from far and wide to join our welcoming community and celebrate Pride in Winnipeg – the heart of the continent!
Gaywinnipeg.ca is an online social community that connects Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people with friends and others who work, study and live in Winnipeg. You can use gaywinnipeg.ca to reach other gays in your area and to learn more about those people you meet online. We are the first and only community based information website for Gay, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgendered and Two-spirited people in Winnipeg. We have been online since June 4th 2002. We invite you to explore gaywinnipeg.ca and to take time to familiarize yourself with the site and its many features.
Rainbow Resource Centre
Since 1999 – but with roots dating to the early 1970s, when it was just a student group at the University of Manitoba known as the Campus Gay Club – The Rainbow Resource Centre has been serving Manitoba’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and two-spirit communities. It is the longest continuously running LGBT2SQ+ resource centre in Canada, supporting the community in the form of counselling, education, and programming for individuals ranging from children through to 55±. It also supports families, friends, and employers of LGBT2SQ+ individuals.
REEL PRIDE exists to celebrate queer media arts and to contribute to community vitality by programming materials that focus on issues of importance to Winnipeg’s queer community. We promote queer media arts to foster dialogue on issues of importance to our community in a public, accessible and safe space, as well as celebrating queer artists and stories both locally and from around the world.
Travel Gay Canada
Travel Gay Canada is Canada’s national LGBT tourism industry association. Its goal is to provide LGBT travelers with products and services that meet their needs and expectations, and to better inform them of the unique and vast travel opportunities and experiences available within Canada.
A comprehensive website dedicated to listing LGBT welcoming hotels and attractions, the perfect choice for pleasure, business, or meetings and events.
IGLTA: The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association
IGLTA - The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association is the world's leading global travel network dedicated to connecting and educating LGBT travelers and the businesses that welcome and support them along the way. Whether it's for individual, group, corporate, or student travel, we have affiliates in the world's most sought after locations offering the most competitive packages for your perfect getaway.
Gay Cities Winnipeg
GayCities is the #1 gay travel website and App where you can find the best experiences at home and in over 220 cities across the globe.
Manitoba LGBT Chamber of Commerce
The Manitoba LGBT* Chamber of Commerce exists to help build a strong Manitoba economy supported by, and supportive of, diverse communities. Our mission is to cultivate, contribute to and promote a thriving community of LGBT* owned and allied businesses, professionals and business students in Manitoba.
Out There Winnipeg
Out There Winnipeg is an umbrella sports organization for the queer community in Winnipeg, providing opportunities for everyone to participate in sports and other recreational activities in good company with other members of Winnipeg’s LGBTTQ* community.
Serving the GLBT Community Since 1994. Outwords is a non-profit organization that publishes outwords a free magazine that provides news, analysis and entertainment for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit and queer community and its allies.
Out and About Travel
The evolution of travel starts with Out'n About Travel. We are proud to serve the LGBT community with integrity and dignity. We want you to feel safe and comfortable as you make your travel plans. Show your pride with #outnabouttravel