Tag Archives: Calgary

The Calgary Police Archives

The police and the gay community have had a conflicted past across North America for most of the 20th Century. We see this former reality resonating in 2016 as the LGBTQ community debated how police participated in Pride Parades across Canada.

Locally, the Calgary Police have been in the news due to a recently released, unflattering, 2013 internal audit of workplace culture. The Police are one of many state institutions that are grappling with societal change, and increasingly, with reconciliation for prior stigmatization of the LGBTQ community.

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A research trip to Police HQ, one week after the Orlando shooting. We were surprised to see the Pride Flag flying at half mast…

A positive development, amidst this troubling news, is that the Calgary Police archives staff have been assisting the Calgary Gay History Project: combing through files looking for references to their relationship with the LGBTQ community in previous decades. The material is far from flattering.

Some samples:

In May 1946, Constable F.C. Shipley was awarded an entry in the merit book and an accelerated promotion due to catching Alfred V. Andrew in an act of gross indecency with another man at the Alexandra Hotel.  Andrew subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months hard labour.

In November 1960, the Calgary Police fired one of their own employees, Charles Pippard, because, “it would appear that Pippard suffers from homosexual tendencies, but nothing can be uncovered to confirm this.”

And in Sept 1963, an editorial in the Police’s internal magazine, Patrol, gleefully announced:

Hats off to those members of the Detective Division whose resourceful and perseverance, coupled with a new and revolutionary scientific aid to criminal investigations, closed circuit television, were successful in exposing and subsequently convicting a group of men practicing acts of gross indecency in a public washroom.

The hue and cry that heralded the use of these so called ‘Big Brother tactis’ [sic] by the force, displayed as usual a lack of awareness and understanding of this dangerous trend which prompted the use of this device.

Homosexuality and the perversion it breeds is a social problem that is always with is. When, however, such perverts meet and practice various acts of indecency in any place to which the public have access, then there is no other course open to the Police than to use every means at their disposal to safeguard innocent citizens from this type of environment and ensure that these establishments are protected from such defilement.

It is unfortunate that to gain the evidence required to subject several innocent and unsuspecting citizens using the toilets in question, to the scrutiny of television cameras while engaged in a most fundamental act of nature.  That, it has been claimed, was a gross invasion of privacy.  Surely we are not such prudes that in the interests of public decency and morality, we cannot accept a little humiliation of this kind and in doing so perhaps prevent a child or young person from becoming the victim of the insatiable lust of some of these mentally sick individuals.

It is important that society-at-large comes to terms with our LGBTQ past, and stares at it unflinchingly, to prepare a space for reconciliation.  I thank the Calgary Police for opening up its history to the Project and allowing itself to be stared at.

{KA}

My Own Private Gay History

On Tuesday, October 11th, the Calgary Gay History Project is happy to be collaborating with Calgary Cinematheque to bring you: My Own Private Idaho. A 25th Anniversary screening on 35mm film at the Plaza Theatre. The 1991 arthouse film was a breakout success both critically and financially. Director Gus Van Sant created an unusual and visually memorable film that serves as a mediation on isolation and alienation – still relevant today.

River Phoenix was widely praised for his portrayal of Mike, a narcoleptic male hustler whose unrequited love for fellow hustler Scott (Keanu Reaves) provides the backbone of the film. Sadly, River Phoenix died a couple of years later, of a drug overdose, at the age of 23. Tickets and show information can be found: here.

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River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho

We were thrilled to be included in the Canadian Encyclopedia. Last week we published a feature article about Everett Klippert’s Calgary years, in the now online-only heritage institution.

Running until October 15th at Truck Gallery, is Mark Clintberg’s thoughtful art installation: Cecil Hotel. The recently destroyed hotel was infamous in recent decades, but was an important site for Calgary’s lesbian community of the 60s.  Mark’s recent work has been inspired by local queer history. A previous piece installed in Winnipeg, Détournement, evokes the former Calgary gay bar, Detour, which was on 17th Ave between 2nd and 4th Street SW (known as Dick’s and 318 in other incarnations).

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{KA}

Pride 2016: A Visual Wrap

Last week was busy with lots of Pride Programming throughout the City.  One of our highlights was the Downtown Gay History Walk. We had a warm evening and an even warmer crowd of 60, who were keenly interested in hearing stories of our past. Our group had an interesting visual resonance with the first Pride Parade held 25 years ago in 1991.

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Pride History Walk 2016, Photo: Tereasa Maillie

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Calgary Pride Parade 1991, Photo: Luke Shwart

Then on Friday the Calgary Herald published a Pride article putting the Calgary Gay History Project front and centre (thank you Val Fortney). After doing a phone interview, Val asked if they could send out a Herald photographer (ummm…). Thankfully photographer, Elizabeth Cameron, was professional and kind.

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Calgary Gay History Project’s Kevin Allen at CommunityWise, Photo Elizabeth Cameron/Calgary Herald

And finally, Parade day – we were worried about the weather, but it proved to be less cool than we thought, and the sun even came out in the Pride Festival grounds that afternoon. We ran out of our historical button reproductions, and talked to hundreds of interested festival-goers about why Our Past Matters.

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Historic Button Reproductions that were given away at 2016 Pride

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Project Volunteers, Ayanna Smart & Kevin Allen, Sept 4, 2016.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by. We appreciated the comments, questions, donations and kind words. We are looking forward to Pride 2017 already!

{KA}