Media Releases

U of T launches course on Sex in the City

September 12, 2011

TORONTO, ON – A new course devot­ed to Sex in the City will immerse first-year stu­dents in Toronto’s rich sex­u­al his­to­ry as well as the cur­rent state of sex­u­al pol­i­tics, sex­u­al­ized spaces and more.

In addi­tion to lec­tures by guest speak­ers, stu­dents will tour key Toron­to loca­tions to learn more about his­toric moments such as the bath­house raids of 1981 and the estab­lish­ment of Pink Tri­an­gle Press, vis­it Bud­dies in Bad Times the­atre for a work­ing rehearsal and cre­ate their own Jane’s Walks.

“We’re going to be get­ting stu­dents to think about how spaces get sex­u­al­ized, how cities get divid­ed up into sex­u­al spaces and why cer­tain places are cod­ed as sex­u­al,” said Scott Rayter, who teach­es the course. Top­ics of dis­cus­sion will include cur­rent legal issues includ­ing the bat­tle to decrim­i­nal­ize sex work, the his­to­ry of sex­u­al­ized spaces in Toron­to, cur­rent safe and per­ceived dan­ger­ous spaces and the rela­tion­ship between sex­u­al com­mu­ni­ties and schools.

Rayter plans to leave room for stu­dents to help steer the course in a direc­tion they’d like. “They’re going to have ideas, wants and desires too, so why not draw on their inter­ests and expe­ri­ences?”

Stu­dents will be eval­u­at­ed though crit­i­cal reflec­tion papers on week­ly read­ings and lec­tures, par­tic­i­pa­tion and a final research paper.

Sex in the City is part of a new pro­gram this fall at Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege called UC One: Engag­ing Toron­to.  The pro­gram fea­tures a set of four “streams” for first-year stu­dents that draw on the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­grams host­ed by the col­lege and take advan­tage of the unique learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties of the city.

Some sex­u­al­ized spaces in Toron­to:

•    Bath­house Raids – 286 men were arrest­ed in 1981 dur­ing raids on four Toron­to bath­hous­es. It sparked thou­sands to come togeth­er in the city’s gay com­mu­ni­ty to protest. “It was part of a delib­er­ate and orga­nized cam­paign by gov­ern­ment and police to push gay baths and bars out of busi­ness, to silence the gay press and to remove gay voic­es from pub­lic dis­course,” wrote Xtra! in Feb­ru­ary, look­ing back 30 years lat­er.

•    Pink Tri­an­gle Press – Home to local gay and les­bian media such as Xtra!, fab and more. Rayter is hop­ing to have pres­i­dent and exec­u­tive direc­tor Ken Pop­ert speak to stu­dents about how queer press went from obscen­i­ty charges to more main­stream accep­tance.

•    Cana­di­an Les­bian and Gay Archives – Found­ed in 1973, the CLGA has grown to be the sec­ond-largest Les­bian Gay Bisex­u­al Trans­gen­der (LGBT) archive col­lec­tion in the world. They now oper­ate out of a house on Isabel­la Street that was built in 1858 and has been exten­sive­ly remod­elled.

•    Bud­dies in Bad Times the­atre – In its 30 years, this the­atre has devel­oped into the largest facil­i­ty-based queer the­atre in the world, locat­ed in the heart of Toronto’s gay vil­lage.

•    Yonge Street – The world’s longest street is also noto­ri­ous for its sex­u­al legal his­to­ry, whether it’s for zon­ing of clubs such as Zanz­ibar and Remington’s or the ongo­ing debate over sex work.

•    Jane’s Walks – While not based on sex­u­al prin­ci­pals, these walks that cel­e­brate urban­ist and writer Jane Jacobs to get peo­ple out into their neigh­bour­hoods, meet­ing their neigh­bours and feel­ing safe on the streets. They were start­ed in Toron­to in 2007 and now exist in 68 cities across 9 coun­tries.



For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Scott Rayter
Asso­ciate Direc­tor
Mark S. Bon­ham Cen­tre for Sex­u­al Diver­si­ty
Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to

Jes­si­ca Lewis
Fac­ul­ty of Arts and Sci­ence
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to