Contributed by Jim T, 2009
The origins of gay organizations on Saltspring go back to about 1990. The first was an AIDS support group sponsored by the Community Hall. The woman staffer who got it going felt there were advantages to calling it a support group, since she knew from experience in other communities that some PWA’s were reluctant to admit they actually had the virus. When Dale Weston became executive director of AIDS Vancouver Island he was very supportive.
As for a general gay group, I paid for a series of Notices/Personals in the Driftwood, and conned Gerry W. into placing them. He said he and the ad taker were both nervous—this was in the darkest 90’s, you see.
That was in December of 1992, and I think it was the third insertion before we got even one response. Sometime before February 10, 1993, a meeting was held at Paul and Mike place on Sunset Drive. 9 guys attended.
(This wasn’t the first gay meeting on Saltspring—in 1992 the former Rural Gay Men’s Group had a gathering in my apartment in the upstairs of Gerry’s house on Quarry Drive. There was the two of us, a couple from Pender, a guy from Fraser Valley, and Mac and David who came over from Victoria. We felt this was a real happening!)
Addition by Caffyn
There was a very vibrant women’s community on Salt Spring in the 1970’s and 80’s, and lesbians were a big part of that. Island lesbians have been highly visible as prominent businesspeople, health care professionals and major contributors to non-profit societies since that time.