Gay activist Jim Egan’s fight for equality becomes first LGBTQ Heritage Minute


TORONTO — A new Heritage Minute recounting the story of gay activist Jim Egan is drawing attention to the fight for equality waged by Canada’s LGBTQ community.

Producers at Historica Canada, the organization behind the popular bite-sized moments of history, say the latest addition to its ongoing series will debut online Wednesday.

It’s the first time the LGBTQ community has been the focus of a Heritage Minute.

The one-minute clip follows the career of Egan, who spent most of his life trying to change negative perceptions of gay culture in mainstream media.

He started by writing opinion columns to newspapers in the early 1950s before eventually becoming one of the first openly gay politicians in Canada.

Egan is known for suing Ottawa for the right to claim a spousal pension under the Old Age Security Act, a case that led to the Supreme Court’s decision to deny him and his partner Jack Nesbit spousal rights in 1995.

The Heritage Minute was directed by St. John’s filmmaker Stephen Dunn, whose semi-autobiographical “Closet Monster” won the 2015 Canadian feature film award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Dunn oversaw his first Heritage Minute earlier this year with the story of Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the “Anne of Green Gables” book series.

The latest Heritage Minute follows a goal set by leaders at Historica Canada to widen the focus of Canada’s history to consider some of its more shameful moments.

Recent additions to the series acknowledged the country’s racism with stories that addressed residential schools and segregation.


Follow @dfriend on Twitter.

David Friend, The Canadian Press