5 min read
29 June 2023

WoodGreen seniors’ project looks back at the legalization of same-sex marriage in Ontario

Kayla Han, Public Affairs Assistant

To help celebrate Pride Month, on June 23, WoodGreen’s Seniors’ Active Living Centre hosted a special screening of a new documentary that commemorates the 20th anniversary of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Ontario.

The 40-minute film, called "When You Find the One," was created by producer and videographer Stella Racca. It shares the love stories and legal battles of same-sex married couples in Toronto, including some WoodGreen clients and volunteers. This film is being submitted for consideration at film festivals and will be available for public viewing in the near future.

From left to right: Adriano Murarotto, WoodGreen’s Director of Senior Services; Barb McCutcheon, co-chair of WoodGreen’s Senior Advisory Council; Peter Tabuns, MPP for Toronto-Danforth; Stella Racca, filmmaker; and Ara Manrikyan, WoodGreen's Manager of Seniors Active Living Centres

“WoodGreen partners with members of its community to empower change-makers, and to support those in overcoming barriers to living happy and healthy lives in this great city,” said Adriano Murarotto, WoodGreen’s Director of Senior Services. “During Pride Month, we are excited to showcase a film that embodies the intersectionality of age and gender and orientation. The language of love is truly universal, as reinforced in this film.”

Learn more about WoodGreen’s Seniors Active Living Centre.

Film part of a project to help seniors to tell “The Stories of Our Lives”

The film was part of WoodGreen’s Senior Advisory Council’s The Stories of Our Lives Memory Project, which the Government of Ontario funded. The project taught seniors how to collect the stories of their lives through scrapbooking, photography, videography, and other methods, so they can pass them on to their loved ones.

In June 2003, same-sex marriage was legalized in Ontario. The federal Civil Marriage Act, which legalized same-sex marriage across Canada came into full force in 2005. The stories exemplified in the film showcased many barriers that same-sex couples faced and the sense of relief that came with the official ‘tying of the knot’ for many of these couples in the early 2000s.

Barb McCutcheon is the co-chair of WoodGreen’s Senior Advisory Council, which pitched the film to WoodGreen as part of the Ontario Seniors Grant. McCutcheon reflected on the process of developing the film, the anxiety that still comes from coming out, and the ability to be vulnerable in front of a camera.

“Often seniors would not be out to their family, work, or even some of their friends. To get them to open up on camera and tell their very personal stories was a big ask,” she said. “And in truth, some of the people who originally had said they would be part of the film backed out at the last minute, because it was simply too much.”

The film has had a positive impact on the creators and viewers

As the videographer of this film, Racca found the project to be a memorable and life-changing experience.

“Telling queer stories has always been my priority. Getting to meet the fantastic subjects of When You Find the One brought me so much joy, and I formed lifelong friendships with the brave folks who opened their hearts and shared their stories with me,” said Racca. “For myself, and many other queer folks my age, it feels rare to meet queer people of our parents' and grandparents' generations.”

Viewers shared that the project was transformative for them. One young woman said that after seeing the film she would come out to her family. And two men who had been together for 32 years announced that they were now engaged.

“That’s exactly why we wanted to make this film; it was in order for people to understand how loving relationships with same-sex couples can be,” said McCutcheon.

WoodGreen Community Services is grateful to the Government of Ontario for their contribution to this production and was pleased to see MPP for Toronto-Danforth, Peter Tabuns in attendance to celebrate the film and the senior community.

WoodGreen is proud to provide integrated care for seniors so they may age in place with whomever they love. Learn more about our programs for seniors.



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