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
Parkside Love was a great success last week. Thanks to Shelf Life Books, and all the Calgarians who came out to share memories of the former Parkside Continental bar. It was a special place for many and formative for Calgary’s LGBTQ2 community.
Kevin Allen standing in front of the original window/artifact from the Parkside Continental – 1302 4 St. SW.
Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story has garnered a nomination at the Canadian Screen Awards for director Laura O’Grady. We were so thrilled to be part of this film and think Laura is a most deserving nominee. Keep your fingers crossed when the Academy votes next month.
Laura O’Grady – Canadian Screen Award Nominee
Speaking of Everett, we are working with the New Central Library on an exhibition in May to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada. If you have any thoughts on what should be included in that exhibition write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Excerpt from Everett Klippert’s diary in jail
Posted in Gay history
Tagged bisexual, Canadian Screen Awards, Everett Klippert, gay, gross indecency, Laura O'Grady, lesbian, New Central Library, Parkside Continental, queer, Shelf Life, transgender
As Historian in Residence at the New Central Library, I serve tea weekly (weakly?) on Thursdays from 5-6 PM in room 414-A on the 4th floor. Last night we had Lois Szabo discuss the origins of Club Carousel, Calgary’s first gay bar. Lois was one of the club’s founders in the late ’60s and has been an active member of the community ever since. She was chosen to be our Pride Parade Marshall in 2017.
Lois Szabo at the 2017 Pride Parade: Calgary Herald Photo
Next week, on Thursday, December 20th, we have local representatives from the el-Tawhid Juma Circle, Calgary’s inclusive mosque space also known as Unity Mosque. The queer affirming mosque space was founded in Toronto almost ten years ago and has since spread to other Canadian cities. Their mission is to be compassionate, inclusive, gender equal and LGBTQ affirming. Please join us for tea!
El-Tawhid Juma Circle Website
The library residency has proved to be very fruitful for research. I have been combing the pamphlet and clipping files in the library in the new Calgary’s Story section on the 4th floor.
For example, I discovered the story of Mark Perry-Schaub who was diagnosed with AIDS in July 1987 and subsequently lost his volunteer job with the Calgary ’88 Olympics Committee. He had been a volunteering for three years prior to the diagnosis and fought publicly to be reinstated. He was successful in his fight and despite struggling with three successive bouts of pneumonia he was strong enough to work throughout the Games. He died two months later.
This week I met with three nieces of Everett Klippert whom I had not interviewed before. They shared stories of their Uncle Evie which were new to me, including a wedding with a woman whom he ran away from – the day before the wedding!
Last week, I interviewed Joey Sayer, who was instrumental in founding Lesbian and Gay Youth Calgary (LGYC) in the ’80s, as well as significant gay publications Modern Pink, and Alberta Gay & Lesbian Press (AGLP). Oral history interviews like these, are key sources for future stories on the Calgary Gay History Project website.
- Kevin and Joey at the Historian In Residence Studio at the New Central Library
Posted in Gay history
Tagged AGLP, AIDS, bisexual, Club Carousel, El-Tawhid Juma Circle, Everett Klippert, gay, Historian in Residence, Joey Sayer, lesbian, LGYC, Lois Szabo, Mark Perry-Schaub, Modern Pink, New Central Library, queer, transgender, Unity Mosque