Jim Egan: Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary
Read the story and answer the questions.
The Story of Jim Egan
1 At one time, the word “queer” was an insult. Today, it is a word many people proudly use to describe themselves. The road to pride began with Jim Egan.
2 Jim was born in Toronto in 1921. As a young man, he began visiting bars quietly known to be gay meeting places. He had to be careful. The police in Toronto often went to these places. They would trick gay men by pretending to be gay, too. Then they would arrest them. The men’s names would be printed in newspapers. They often lost their jobs, their family, and their friends. Landlords would not rent to them. Being gay meant being left out by the world. Jim met a man named Jack in one of those bars. They fell in love. The world seemed like a less lonely place.
3 Jim loved to read. He noticed queer people were being written about a lot more in the newspapers. But queer people were always talked about as being sick and immoral. This upset Jim. He could not stay silent. So, in 1949, he began writing letters to the newspapers. He protested the way they talked about gay people. He called for equal rights under the law. This was at a time when no one else was speaking up. Over the next 10 years, his letters appeared in many places, including TIME magazine. In 1963, a reporter from Maclean’s magazine wrote a story about Jim. It was the first positive report about queer people by a major Canadian news company. Jim used a fake name to avoid arrest.
4 Jack was uncomfortable with Jim’s activism. He was worried that one day they might be thrown in jail. So Jim agreed to give up his activism. They moved across the country to Vancouver Island and started a new life.
5 In 1969, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau finally got rid of the law that made queer relationships illegal. Trudeau said, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” Jim and Jack no longer had to worry about being put in prison.
6 In the 1980s, AIDS began taking the lives of gay men. Gay men whose partners died of AIDS did not have the same rights as everyone else whose partners were sick or had passed away. Jim returned to queer activism — and this time, Jack was right by his side. They helped run an AIDS organization. They also ran a drop-in group out of their home for queer people.
7 Jim retired in 1987. The government would not give him and Jack the same amount of money that married men and women get when they retire. Jim and Jack had been together for over 40 years. They took the government to court. It took eight years, but the courts made it illegal to discriminate based on who people are in love with. This was the first time queer people in Canada had human rights.
8 In 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to make same gender marriage legal. Canada became a worldwide leader in queer rights. Just think – it all began with one man who decided to write a letter!
Story by Shantel Ivits at BC Open Textbooks
Adapted under Creative Commons license
Adaptations and exercises by Richard Carrington, English Language Centre
Image (edited) by Karen at PublicDomainPictures.net is in the public domain (CC0 Public Domain)
Audio version performed by Peter Polgar, English Language Centre
- What did not happen to gay men who were arrested in Toronto bars when Jim Egan was a young man?
- Their names and addresses appeared in newspapers.
- Landlords refused to rent to them.
- They often lost their jobs.
- Their families would have no more to do with them.
- What did Jim not notice about queer people in the 1940s?
- More and more articles about them appeared in newspapers.
- People were saying they were sick.
- People were demanding equal rights under the law for them.
- People were saying they were immoral.
- What did Jim not start doing in 1949?
- writing letters to newspapers
- calling for equal rights under the law
- protesting the way gay people were talked about
- appearing on TV talk shows
- How old was Jim when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau got rid of the law that made queer relationships illegal?
- Why did Jim stop being an activist?
- Canada finally recognized same sex marriage.
- He was hired to write articles for TIME magazine.
- He moved to Vancouver Island with Jack.
- Jack thought they might be arrested.
- What did Jim not do when AIDS started taking the lives of gay men in the 1980s?
- return to activism
- help run an AIDS organization
- operate a drop-in group in his home
- take the government to court
- What is not true about the Maclean’s article in 1963?
- It was about Jim.
- The reporter didn't use Jim's real name.
- It was the first time a major Canadian news company wrote a favourable article about gay people.
- It reappeared in TIME magazine later.
- Which word below does not have the same meaning as "pride" (paragraph 2)?
- Which word below does not have the same meaning as "immoral" (paragraph 3)?
- Which word below does not have the same meaning as "fake" (paragraph 3)?
- not real