The Calgary Gay History Project is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada with a special event at the New Central Library.
In November 1967, Everett Klippert was sentenced to incarceration for life for being gay by the Supreme Court of Canada. This prompted a very famous quote from then Justice Minister, Pierre Trudeau.
December 1967: “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, and I think what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code.” Source: CBC (click to watch video).
On April 16, 1969, as Prime Minister, Trudeau presented the Criminal Law Amendment Act, (Bill C-150) in the House of Commons. The bill proposed to decriminalize homosexuality and allow abortion and contraception, along with other new regulatory measures on a number of less controversial issues. Debate raged in the House. The tone was rancorous and some Members of Parliament (MPs) were particularly shocking in their remarks.
For example, Calgary MP Eldon Wooliams said: “I do not want to have this kind of debauchery in our nation. I think there is a place for a filibuster. If people tell me to get on with the job, I will say to them: ‘Do you want me to legalize sexual intercourse with the animals of Canada?”
Bill C-150’s third reading passed on May 14th, specifically altering the crimes of gross indecency and buggery in private between two consenting adults aged 21 or older. Thus began a new chapter for the gay rights movement in Canada.
We intend to honour this consequential day in Canadian history! Planning has begun for a special event at the Central Library from 6:30 – 7:45 PM! We are designing an evening which promises to be full of history, theatre, and art. We are also seeking input and participation: if you have an idea for the evening program email us.
Celebrate Freedom: see you on May 14th!
Posted in Gay history
Tagged bisexual, C-150, calgary public library, Eldon Wooliams, Everett Klippert, gay, lesbian, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, queer, Supreme Court of Canada, transgender
Thanks to everyone who came out to the Our Past Matters book launch last night at the New Central Library. It was quite a full house and quite an evening. The library’s Rosemary Griebel, before she introduced me, advised me to savour every moment: “you only have your first book launch once.” It was good advice, and I felt so proud and honoured to present my work.
Calgarians come out for history! Photo: Noel Begin
We also screened Laura O’Grady’s Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story, to large applause. Afterward, we floated the idea of a gay history feature film – stay tuned!
Book signing fatigue? No, it was a delight. Photo: Laura O’Grady
People have been asking where to buy the book now that it is out. Shelf Life Books, one of Calgary’s finest independent bookstores, has it. As we add more booksellers we will let you know. Next week, you will also be able to buy it online through the Calgary Gay History Project Website.
Thank you, Calgary for coming out yesterday!
Posted in Gay history
Tagged bisexual, calgary public library, gay, gross indecency, Laura O'Grady, lesbian, Noel Begin, Our Past Matters, queer, Shelf Life, transgender
Fifty years ago today, Calgary’s gay community had its self-described first “public” function. It was reported that on Halloween 1968, “about 100 nervous Gays showed dressed to the nines” at the Highland Golf and Country Club. This event, gave those anxious organizers courage to start the first gay clubs in the city.
Today, I just received the keys to my office on the top floor of the New Central Library. The building brought tears to my eyes and took my breath away. What an honour to be appointed as its first Historian in Residence. It is astounding to me that in fifty years we have come so far as a community – from hidden and underground to lofty and visible.
Book Cover Image: Club Carousel Woodcut by Calgary Artist Lisa Brawn
Additionally, Our Past Matters: Stories of Gay Calgary has gone to the printers. We expect it to be here in three weeks! We are sorting out the book launch currently (more details to come), but soon you will be able to read it (finally)!
Thank you for your patience in the book writing process. So much has happened with the Calgary Gay History Project in the last four years that informed the final text. I hope you will find it was worth the wait.
Posted in Gay history
Tagged bisexual, Calgary, calgary public library, gay, Halloween, history, lesbian, New Central Library, Our Past Matters, queer, transgender