Marie Robertson is an outspoken lipstick lesbian. A community activist since 1970, Marie has never been afraid to rock the boat and challenge both those within and outside the LGBT community. For many years she was one of the few publicly out lesbians within the gay liberation movement in Canada. She's been referred to as a 'pioneer of the gay movement in Canada' and "Ontario's first lady of queer liberation". For more than 40 years, she's been a leader in the fight for LGBT liberation and advancement in Ontario.
Marie was one of the founding members of the Hamilton McMaster Homophile Association in 1970 and also of CGRO (Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario) in 1975. CGRO (later changed to CLGRO) was a group that was instrumental in achieving the addition of the term "sexual orientation" to the Ontario Human Rights Code in 1986. Over the years, she has added her strong voice and energy to many organizations; Waterloo University's Gay Liberation Movement, Gays of Ottawa, Lesbians of Ottawa Now (LOON), the Toronto Counselling Centre for Gays and Lesbians, the Lesbian Speakers' Bureau of Toronto, the Supporting Our Youth project at Central Toronto Youth Services, and the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives.
Marie worked as a counsellor at the AIDS Committee of Toronto from 1987 until 1993 at a time when six people were dying of AIDS each week in Toronto's gay community. After a brief period of recovery from burn-out, she opened her own counselling practice, a practice that continues today.
In 1994 Marie was awarded the Canadian Lambda Award for Excellence in Human Rights. As one of the supporters for Marie's nomination put it, "As an educator, counsellor, advocate and role model, her commitment to the lesbian and gay community is unwavering".
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this commitment is the fact that Marie doesn't see it as unusual. It is simply part of her everyday life. Marie does more community outreach on a trip to the grocery store than many do in a lifetime. She's proud of who she is and she shares that pride and strength with everyone she comes in contact with.
In 2002, a portrait of Marie was inducted into the National Portrait Collection of the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives in recognition of her contributions to the LGBT community. In 2004, Marie moved to Ottawa and immediately became involved in helping to energize its queer community once again. She co-founded the Lesbian Information Xchange (LIX) in 2005. LIX is still going strong and has a membership of close to 600 lesbians.
Since 2008, Marie has also been very busy with the Ottawa Senior Pride Network (OSPN). She is currently the Community Developer for the project. The Network's goal is to create safe, LGBT-friendly seniors' services and residential environments and to build a strong, connected, visible senior queer community in Ottawa.