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A Queer History Of Newfoundland - Rhea Rollmann

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2024 SPARKS Literary Festival Featured Title! 


“There have always been queers in Newfoundland and Labrador.” Through decades of repression – both intentional and unintentional – the powerful story of 20th century queer community-building and activism in this province has remained largely ignored. Until now. Journalist Rhea Rollmann, through extensive interviews, archival work and investigative reporting, brings that history to light in A QUEER HISTORY OF NEWFOUNDLAND. Organized queer activism dates back to at least 1974 in this province, but queer presence and community stretches back much farther. Rollmann spent years scouring archives, newspapers and court records to chronicle that history. She draws on archival work as well as more than 120 first-hand interviews with activists and community members to document this history behind the history of the province. The book focuses on the fight for human rights protections, AIDS activism, the growth of the city's vibrant queer bar scene, lesbian struggles for space in the feminist movement, trans struggles for recognition and health care, and more. Just as same-sex intimacy emerged in spaces as varied as the fishing industry and campus dorms, queer liberation also took diverse forms in this province, from quiet living-room consciousness-raising groups to angry, in-your-face marches on homophobic bars. Newfoundland and Labrador has been tied into national and international queer liberation networks ever since the 1970s, but NL'ers also played a major role in shaping those national movements. This book explores all of these stories, and more.The story of the queer rights movement in this province is one of great pride and joy; one of hardship and struggle; and ultimately, one of triumph. Why? Because: There have always been – and always will be – queers in Newfoundland and Labrador.


    RHEA ROLLMANN is a journalist, writer and radio/podcast producer based in St. John’s, NL. Her writing has appeared in a range of popular and academic publications, including Briarpatch Magazine, Riddle Fence,, Canadian Theatre Review, Journal of Gender Studies, Labour Studies Journal, Canadian Woman Studies and more. She’s also a founding editor and writer with, and a contributing editor with

    Her awards include an Atlantic Journalism Gold Award (Commentary – Any Medium, 2016) and an Atlantic Journalism Silver Award (Best Community Newspaper Story – 2020). In 2018 she was a finalist for a Canadian Association of Journalism Award in Labour Reporting.