Inside Out 2009: The Naughty Nineties
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Inside Out 2009: The Naughty Nineties

Photo courtesy of GAT Productions.

It’s the penultimate day at Inside Out, so this is one of your last chances to catch this year’s crop of queer cinema. One of the highlights of the day is the Queer Youth Digital Video Project, a program Inside Out has been running for the past eleven years, which showcases the work of seven different queer youths, each of whom has been given the opportunity to produce a short film on a shoestring budget.
And speaking of the youth of today, Torontoist has noticed, fogies that we are, a new crop of budding homosexualists, with their Parisian disco music and their vaguely Pat Benatar–inspired fashions, for whom gay rights in Canada are simply a matter of fact. They come out of the closet at the age of thirteen to the surprise of absolutely no one, they take it for granted that they can live and work wherever they choose, and “discrimination” means taking their time when they’re shopping for skinny jeans. And so, it seems entirely appropriate that documentary The Queer Nineties, screening this afternoon at Inside Out, has the tone of an educational video one might be made to watch in a high school civics class.
The film takes you back to a time before gay marriage in this country was even a dot on the horizon, charting the development of the Canadian gay rights movement in the 1990s, particularly in Ontario. It was a time of huge struggle, but also huge gains for the movement, and the doc shows advances being made on a variety of fronts: anti-discrimination laws, common-law rights, adoption rights, and the ability of teachers to discuss homosexuality in the classroom. One of the most effective sequences focuses on Bill 167, which would have granted gay couples equal common-law rights, and its failure to pass at Queen’s Park in 1994. It’s shocking to see MPPs speak to the house using extremely derogatory language and offensive stereotypes while describing gay people and also to note the rubber gloves worn by the police officers attempting to corral a very (justifiably) angry group of protesters out of the building. It’s easy to be complacent about how good queers have it in Canada these days, but it would be great if this movie was part of the high school civics curriculum, to remind people that the rights they enjoy today are relatively new and were hard-won.
The Queer Nineties screens at 12:30 p.m. at the ROM.
Queer Youth Digital Video Project screens at 4:45 p.m. at the Isabel Bader.