The University of Calgary Student Press, 1970-1980: From Anonymous Classified Ads to Gay Liberation Op-Eds to Gay Academic Union as a Part of Campus Life
As the Criminal Code changes that decriminalized private same-sex acts between consenting adults in Canada went into effect in August 1969, the legal struggle against discrimination, for full civil and human rights of sexual minorities and for social and political change in Canada was just beginning. The 1970s are often called a formative age of queer activism: a time of gay and lesbian liberation movements, changing mores about sexuality in general, of a forging of a more visible community of people identifying by their sexual orientation, building upon but moving away from underground queer subcultures (as discussed in an earlier post on The Body Politic).
We looked at over ten years (1969-1980) of the University of Calgary student newspaper, The Gauntlet, to deepen our understanding of Calgary’s gay and lesbian history during this turbulent decade, and explore the role that the University and its student press played, providing a space for debate, but also for reaching out, support and organizing around an emerging advocacy agenda.
Despite the Gauntlet’s uneven editorial tone and often flawed reporting, as well as many omissions of landmark moments in gay and lesbian activism of the 1970s, a look at its writing from this decade still reveals important aspects of gay and lesbian history in the city. Moreover, it testifies to the role that the University of Calgary played as a public space, where early gay activism, as well as debate on some of the defining national gay and lesbian issues of the decade took place.