“Beautiful, or Touching, or Tragic”

Queer Representation in 1950’s and 60’s in Canada

Abstract

This paper explores tragedy as an overarching narrative mode in 1950s and 60s representations of queer people in Canada, with pathos being mobilized with a central rhetorical technique to discuss these experiences. I will outline the sociopolitical context in which queers in the 50s and 60s found themselves before analyzing the prevalence of queer suffering in print media, including tabloids such as, pulp fiction and accounts of embodied representation in queer spaces.

Case studies include an examination of corporal punishment and queerness in the tabloid  Justice Weekly, unhappy endings in lesbian pulp fiction, such as Ann Bannon’s Beebo Brinker Chronicles, and oral accounts of the violence of queer nightlife in Winnipeg and Montreal. In conclusion, the prevalence of queer suffering in the 1950s and 60s in Canada are crystallized in various forms of media. It is important to reflect on the real and imagined sorrows during this era as well as the complexities of queer representation and agency.   

 2018