Tag Archives: Calgary

Slumming on the Wrong Side of History

In Canada, the House of Commons just passed Bill C-6: An Act to amend the Criminal Code, regarding conversion therapy.

The law defines conversion therapy as a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to change a person’s gender identity or gender expression to cisgender or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour or non-cisgender gender expression. For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment or service that relates to the exploration and development of an integrated personal identity without favouring any particular sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

In a vote of 263-63, Parliamentarians determined conversion therapy, cheekily referred to as “praying away the gay,” will no longer be tolerated in Canada.

Celebrating the City of Calgary’s own Conversion Therapy Ban Legislation in February 2020 (Photo by Lou De Asis/The Press)

For many Canadians, this issue seems like a fait accompli. Notably, there were 63 opposed Members of Parliament. Moreover, a quick internet search reveals many wacky websites that make astounding arguments in support of conversion therapy. In fact, a creaky warhorse also known as the REAL Women of Canada—are they still around?—pronounced the legislation “wicked.”

Are the 63 MPs representing this anti-gay, anti-trans constituency?

Alternatively, Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison stated that he in fact opposes conversion therapy but: “voted against the bill because the government politicized the bill at a committee level and refused to support two amendments put forward by the Conservative party that he claims would add clarity to the bill and ensure that ‘voluntary conversations between individuals and their teachers, school counsellors, pastoral counsellors, faith leaders, doctors, mental-health professionals, friends or family members are not criminalized.’”

If this was a fatal flaw in the legislation why did 51 of Morrison’s Conservative peers vote in favour, even with their amendments thwarted?

Nine out of ten Calgary MPs voted on Bill C-6; there were six “yeas” and three “nays.” What did our Calgary nay-sayers conclude then about conversion therapy? And what will they think in 20 years? Will anyone remember to inquire? Will they feel embarrassed when asked and quickly change the subject?

These questions intrigue me. Our community’s human rights struggle has been dramatic but rapid. How do decision makers feel now who have been “on the wrong side of history?” My questions are not intended to shame but really probe how sentiments and community standards change.

For example, what do the MPs who voted against same-sex marriage in 2005 believe now? You may recall that vote was a closer: 158 yeas to 133 nays, and blurry across party lines.

And even this week’s vote might be behind Canadian public opinion. According to the Pew Research Centre, 85% of Canadians say homosexuality should be supported by society, and only 10% not. The 63 nay-sayers represent 19% of voting MPs.

What are the stories we tell ourselves to solve the complications of past decisions? Stay tuned Calgary Gay History Project readers—perhaps we have tripped across a new field of inquiry…

{KA}

p.s. Check out Senator Paula Simons’ moving and personal speech on Bill C-6.

Special day today!

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.

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 2.09.10 PM

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.

{KA}

Attention Calgary Queers Achtung!

It is with some dismay that we learned about the City’s cancellation of the naked swim scheduled for this week at the Southland Leisure Centre. The outrage, disgust and threats of violence reached a fever pitch on social media. The City then capitulated to those threats under cover of a security review.

The outcome of that review has suggested that it’s not prudent for us to proceed at this point in time, out of concern related to the safety of all users,” said James McLaughlin, from Calgary Recreation Services, last Thursday.

Calgary’s LGBTQ community has experienced the same moral outrage and acts of threatened and real violence in its history. In fact, the verbiage these anti-nudist thugs are using is eerily similar.

Opponents vowed to bring baseball bats to perform acts of violence. We know that threat.

Opponents vowed to publicly shame event goers. We know that threat.

Opponents labelled nudists, “paedophiles.” We know that threat.

gay bashing

Pre-internet social media: posted on the door of Gay and Lesbian Academic Students and Staff (GLASS) office at U of C in 1992 – the culprits were never found…

One person shockingly wrote on the Southland Leisure Centre’s Facebook page: “Hopefully, people like this will be invited to enter the ovens.” We sadly know that threat too. In the Holocaust, an estimated 15,000 gay men were “invited” to concentration camps to be exterminated.

Perhaps unwittingly, this author evoked more complicated German history than they intended. Early 20th century Germany saw a dramatic blossoming of naturism, the nudist cultural movement, that continued through the Weimar Republic of the 1920s, eventually gaining 100,000 members. (The Weimar state also tolerated homosexuals which the rising National Socialist (Nazi) Party claimed was decadent and immoral).

In March 1933, Hermann Göring, one of the highest ranking members of the Nazi Party passed laws limiting mixed sex nudism, as a reaction to the “immorality” of the Weimar Republic. In January 1934, Wilhelm Frick, Reichmeister for the Interior, passed edicts restricting naturism due to fears that it bred communists and homosexuals.

If we want our right to live in a society free from discrimination and bias, we must protect others whose liberties are attacked. Calgary Nude Recreation, the organization who planned the cancelled event, calls their modern day opponents, “terrorists.”  They are accepting donations to challenge the City going forward: here.

We will be making a donation.

{KA}