Tag Archives: gay bashing

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.




Gaybasher Killed in Central Park

Central Memorial Park has a history of being a cruising park for gay men, and there are many related stories of police harassment there, as well as gay bashing incidents in the now gentrified Beltline greenspace.  Yet one night, in 1979, the tables turned and a gay basher became a victim.

On Saturday, September 22nd at around 10 PM, a skirmish broke out in Central Memorial Park. The result was that Beltline resident, Thomas Earl Nash, aged 22, was stabbed in the neck with a broken bottle. A half dozen people surrounded the dying man, lying behind the Memorial Park Library.  One of Nash’s panicked friends managed to hail a cab driving by on 13th avenue, who then raced them to the Holy Cross Hospital.

Nash did not survive the night.  A silver jacket from one of the attackers was abandoned at the scene.  It was also reported that large blood stains on the sidewalk remained the next day.  The police reported that no motive had been established for the killing, but that drugs were not involved.


Calgary Herald: Monday, September 24, 1979 page B1

The two men accused of the killing fled in a stolen car to Penticton, B.C. and were arrested by RCMP officers the following Tuesday. Brian Christopher Hawkurst, 20, and Greg Paul Spencer, 19, were charged with second-degree murder.

As the investigation proceeded, details emerged that Nash was one of three straight men who had been abusing gay men in the park. It seems that the gang of harassers hassled Hawkurst and Spencer, who then decided to hassle back. A chase ensued whereby Hawkurst and Spencer caught up to Nash at the alley behind the library, and attacked.

The alley, ironically, was well lit by a floodlight which had been installed the previous month at police request, to discourage homosexual activity in the area. Sadly, the cab driver who came to Nash’s aid reported that it was not the first time he had had to take a stabbed man from Central Memorial Park to the hospital.


Photo: Park in 2011 by Mack Male on WikiCommons




Gay-Bashing in YYC. We remember.

As we approach May 17th, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, we thought it might be a good time to reflect on troubling moments from our city’s past.


The 1980s and 90s in Calgary were a particularly bad time for gay-bashing. Attacks were concentrated in the Beltline: one had to stay alert when walking there for thugs with baseball bats and a grudge to work out. As AIDS deaths mounted in Calgary – they hit their crescendo in 1994 – society at large had a lot of anxiety about the now visible gay community in their midst. Many bashings went unreported. Some people lost their lives.

In 1990, one Calgarian named Jeff Harris, recounted to a Calgary Herald reporter his nightmare which had occurred three years prior. Harris, then a 38-year old nurse, was on his way to meet some friends at a club, strolling there on a warm Friday evening in June. Then, near the intersection of 13th Avenue and 1 St SW, a baseball bat swung out from behind a garbage dumpster and connected with his face.

The first blow unhinged his jaw and knocked out some teeth. Several repeated blows sent even more teeth scattering down the sidewalk, and pulverized facial bones. His assailants then proceeded to kick the downed man for several minutes.

Finally, two men who had seen Harris’ three attackers from a nearby apartment gave chase to the assailants. Other samaritans came to Harris’ aid and called police and paramedics. Harris was just able to write his name on a cigarette package before he blacked out.

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Source: Calgary Herald Sunday Magazine, January 7, 1990

By coincidence, the ambulance delivered Harris to the same emergency room where he worked; his co-workers did not recognize him through the damage. Nine doctors, attended the beaten man, trying to preserve his tenuous hold on life. They estimated that he had lost more than six pints of blood and had severe brain swelling.

When the swelling was brought under control, it took more than 6 hours and 280 stitches to close Harris’s wounds and wire together his 27 facial fractures, including 11 breaks in his jaw.

Nine weeks of recovery in hospital, left Harris whole, but substantially changed and forever haunted.

The three assailants were found through a tip from a gay neighbour who lived in the same apartment complex as the thugs. The baseball bat, with Harris’ dried blood still clinging to it, was found in their apartment. Not only were the three charged in the Harris attack, they were also tied to other gay-bashings in the neighbourhood. The three roommates, who had formerly worked as bouncers at a local bar, pled guilty, and expressed surprise that Harris lived.  The oldest attacker was 22.