Belinda was one of the most colourful people I have ever met. To say she was an extrovert would be putting mildly.
Her outfits were always over the top and she is greatly missed.
Early on, Judy entrusted me to help with the screening process for new members for GF.
My very first interview was Belinda. How I wrestled with whether our fledgling group would welcome this flamboyant and opinionated girl! In the end, I thought, “Oh, the hell with it,” and invited her to a meeting. I was going to arrive early to prepare the group for her but, by the time I got there, I found Belinda had already tottered across the parking lot in her spike heels and suspiciously maid-like outfit and was chatting amicably with everyone present. Belinda brought a lot of energy to Gender Freedom and contributed greatly to the respect for diversity that has marked GF ever since.
This lady was, to say the least, proud dressed in her French maid outfit. I met her at Judy’s place in 1988. She had the opportunity to be one of our editors on Notes From The Underground, where she let her hair out using graphics and letters to make diversity real. Belinda will always be remembered as one of the original members of Gender Freedom.
Who could forget Belinda! She was very flamboyant, friendly to all, very opinionated and a bubble of joy. She was always a pleasure to be around and brought a lot of energy to the group. I remember her maids outfit, her leather/PVC, and her ‘soit disant’ fetish incline but I considered her a very good friend.
We came from the same field of work, the military, and had a lot of things in common that we could share and talk about. She was not afraid of anything or anybody, which showed in the way she dressed. I can remember telling her, “How can you dress that way and get away with it in public?” She didnt care! That was her trademark. I remember the trips we took together, to Montreal with other GF friends, and the fun we had. She was always full of energy and brought a lot to the group, such as running with the Notes from the Underground newsletter, which she filled considerably with her opinionated points of view. This, at times, rattled people’s cages but, undoubtedly, it brought a lot of subjects for discussion! I will always have fond memories of her.
Sharon was a kind-hearted soul who would give you the bra off her back if you needed it. I can say no more, as I have no more Kleenex and I can not see through the tears.
At the inaugural meeting of Gender Fredom, I really don’t remember Sharon saying a single word, which was rather remarkable since there were only six of us there. I recall Judy introducing her but I misheard her name and it took another four or five meetings before I realized it wasn’t ‘Charmane’.
It was a strange beginning to what turned out to be a strong friendship. She may have been shy but she pursued her self-expression as a woman with great courage.
She was also highly intelligent and a good person. Sharon and I often enjoyed a few flavourful beers together over the years and shared much heartfelt conversation. She was a good friend of mine and I still think of her often.
A very quiet lady, almost timid. Her shyness amid her friends was noticeable.
I met her before Gender Freedom at a support group called FACTT. We met at the gay community centre on Lisgar St. in the early 80s. She was another original member of Gender Freedom and we both had a mission to express our identity.
She was a very quiet and private person who kept pretty much to herself.
I do, however, remember one experience she did share with us which related to the time she had been stopped by the police (for speeding, I think). She related her panic moment, faced with the possibility of being arrested in ‘femme mode’, and what would happen to her. This brought up an interesting subject of discussion because, at the time, Gender Freedom was pretty much in the closet with respect to the rest of society and not involved with the GLBT community, as today.
I will always remember her shy smile.
Diana and I were always very catty to each other. This was a game we played and both enjoyed. It was never to harm, just to score a point on each other.
I really miss the banter between us.
My funniest and, in many ways, fondest memory of Diana was watching her speed along an icy Ottawa sidewalk late one rainy Christmas Eve on our way home from a party.
While I was trying to keep the sensibly-shod Rachel from falling flat on her face, Diana’s spike heels were stabbing at the pavement and sending ice chips flying up behind her.
To this day, I have no idea how she did it but the memory makes me smile because it was so much like Diana.
She was fun.
She was also a creative person who was just coming into her own as an artist when she died.
A lady of full expression. She was an up-and-coming water colour artist. [She, in] her high heeled shoes, strutting across Rideau St. to her school, was very visual.
She stood up for the transsexual community, standing up and challenging the mayor and city councillors.
Her death was unexpected.
I met Diana the first time at Teddys place. What I remember most was her broad smile and her sophisticated attitude. I always considered her a female, not a TG. Diana always gave this appearance of sophistication. To me she was the Cat lady of the group. Her mannerisms, the way she dressed and the way she talked to you gave the impression of a classy lady.
She always said, Darling, when she addressed you, and who can forget her laughter! It was always entertaining to be around her.
I do remember her artistic abilities and seeing her art work. She was very promising. Her death came too soon. She still had so much to give to the TG community.
Lee and I worked at the same place for about a year back in 1988. That fateful night that I interviewed her was both a shock and joy for both of us.
Leigh was another high tech smarty who oiled the wheels of the early Gender Freedom without much personal fanfare. I still remember her thanking me for the small note of credit I gave her in the editorial I wrote for Notes from the Underground volume 3, number 2. Leigh had supplied me with Ventura Publisher, loaded it on my XT computer, photocopied the users manual for me, provided technical assistance and then, modestly, suggested she had done nothing to warrant thanks. Keeping GF going in the early days took teamwork and Leigh was one of the unsung heroines.
I also met her at Judy’s place in 1988. Leather and PVC were her specialty. The corsets she wore tied back in a real binding and body-shaping performance. She left the group to continue her work in the computer field. Leigh was another original member of Gender Freedom.
The first person I met from Gender Freeedom was Lee. I remember the first meeting I attended back in the winter of 1988-89 at Judys place. Lee was the first person to greet me.
I was ill at ease when I arrived, not knowing anybody and venturing in with perfect strangers. Her broad smile put me at ease and she introduced me to all. We had a long conversation that evening, in particular about techy stuff, which I enjoyed very much.
I remember her Leather outfits and she had quite a selection! She was an excellent cook and always brought good meal selections to the group meetings. I would say, that in the early days of GF, she was my best friend. We shared a lot of information in our personal lives, and always stayed in contact. When I heard she had passed away, it was with deep sadness that I lost a good friend. She was always ready to help others, and is sorely missed.
Lauren came to the group later in her life, becoming President for a several years. She would drive almost eight hours from a small community up north to come to our group for support. I had the privilege of attending her handfasting to her best friend. Over the years, she made a significant contribution to the group and to outreach.