Sunday, May 29, 2005

A Monument to a Gay Person??!!?? A Marvel Indeed


A bronze statue honoring what is believed to be the first openly gay man in Canada was unveiled Saturday in Toronto's gay village. Alexander Wood moved to Upper Canada, now Ontario, in 1793 from Scotland. He settled in the town of York which became modern day Toronto. His sexuality was never a secret and even in repressive colonial times he was a respected merchant. He was later appointed the growing town's magistrate and in 1826 he purchased 50 acres of land on the northeast corner of Carlton and Yonge streets.

But, Wood was forced to leave Canada after a scandal during a rape trial he was conducting. The woman who made the charge claimed that she had left a scratch on her assailant's penis. When Wood proceeded to inspect the man's organ in the privacy of his office the townsfolk were outraged. The forested area around his homestead was dubbed "Molly Wood's Bush". At the time Molly was a slang expression for a gay man.

Local historians say that despite Wood's hasty departure back to England there has been at least one gay man living in the area ever since. Today that area is Toronto's gay village, the third largest LGBT community in North America, and three streets are named for Wood - Wood Street, Alexander Street, and Alexander Place.

A gay pipe band led dignitaries up Church Street to the unveiling of the statue on the corner of Alexander Street. The memorial cost $200,000 and was paid for by the community business council and the City Of Toronto. The eight-foot solid bronze statue was created by renowned Canadian sculptor Del Newbigging. The Alexander Wood statue is one of just a few significant gay-focused monuments in the world - and is thought to be the only one dedicated to a specific gay hero.

“Alexander Wood’s story is an important part of our city’s history and our gay community’s history. The statue is an important symbol to show our lesbian and gay youth that we have a history. Wood was a great citizen of Toronto. A great, gay citizen active in politics and community,” stated Mr. O’Connor, chair of the Church Wellesley Business Improvement Association.

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