Next Monday, December 9th, join us for a significant Calgary gay history event: Legislating Love: The Everett Klippert Story, the award-winning play, is launching as a book. Published by the University of Calgary Press, Legislating Love features local playwright, Natalie Meisner’s emotionally engaging script with director’s notes from Sage Theatre’s Jason Mehmel and essays from the Calgary Gay History Project’s Kevin Allen and Tereasa Maillie.
There will be speeches, a special performance from the play, and a reception and book signing to follow. This free event starts at 7 PM in the BMO room of the Central Library. The library would prefer people to register in advance: here.
Sage Theatre premiered Legislating Love in March 2018 to much acclaim. The play explores the story of Calgary bus driver Everett Klippert, who was the last Canadian convicted of being a dangerous sexual offender because of his homosexuality. The Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark judgment in November 1967 set a new bar for injustice: Klippert was given a life sentence.
The judgment led to outrage amongst some progressives in Canada, prompting Pierre Trudeau’s famous quote: “Take this thing on homosexuality, I think the view we take here is that there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” It also profoundly impacted the nation’s gay community when homosexuality was subsequently partially decriminalized in 1969.
Giving our stories artistic expression keeps them vital; it allows our history to have resonance and relations with the present. One of the things most admirable about Legislating Love is how deeply centred it is in Calgary. In fact, our city was more than a backdrop for the drama; it was a character itself in the play. Chicken on the Way, the Calgary Tower, and the Number One bus route: Calgary audiences thrilled to place themselves in the play’s narrative.
Audiences were moved emotionally by the production. The genuine quality of the play and positive word of mouth ensured that the run became largely sold out.
Natalie said: “For me, one of the greatest endorsements for the show was the live testimonials as well as the written ones by Everett’s family and contemporaries. We have been contacted by theatres from across the country with interest in the script. I think this means we have opened a door to this Calgary based story and indeed this particular man’s story to the hearts and the minds of the country.”