The statue of Alexander Wood, a 19th-century magistrate who owned land in what has become the city’s gay neighbourhood, was unveiled on Saturday at the corner of Church and Alexander streets. The statue is one of the few significant gay-focused monuments in the world, and is thought to be the only one dedicated to a specific gay hero. Toronto’s in good company though, with gay rights monuments in Amsterdam, Holland as well as New York City and Cologne, Germany. The Scottish settler, of which Alexander Street, Alexander Place and Wood Street pay tribute, was also a symbol of persecution against homosexuals. For those unfamiliar with his “gay scandal,” it goes a little something like this:
In 1810, Wood caused a scandal when he investigated a rape case. The woman who filed the claim testified that she had scratched her assailant’s penis during the attack, and Wood personally inspected the suspects’ genitals for injury. Several contradictory rumours existed about Wood’s conduct during these inspections, and some even alleged that Wood fabricated the rape charge as an opportunity to fondle or seduce young men. To this day, the truth of what actually happened is unknown.