Between 1985 and his death in 2002, Robert Giard took nearly 600 black-and-white portraits of gay and lesbian literary figures. In the wake of the AIDS crisis, the photographer felt compelled to document and celebrate queer histories and literature. Giard’s portraits commemorate the pioneers of an emerging queer identity and at the same time reflect a spirit of activism that persists to this day.
The exhibition Just As You Are: Portraits by Robert Giard embodies an extraordinary cultural moment when a marginalized people began to be accepted. Giard’s portraits document a time of political unrest, of individuals coming forward and offering their stories as part of their journey toward acceptance and autonomy.
Featuring 40 vintage prints from the Estate of Robert Giard, the show also includes eight portraits of Canadian gay and lesbian writers recently donated to the University College collection by Jonathan Silin. The exhibition will accompany events during Pride Week in Toronto (June 22– July 1).
Special thanks to the Jackman Humanities Institute, the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information and the University of Toronto Art Centre.