Tag Archives: gay

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.

@yycgayhistory colouring contest!

Kevin Allen was given the great honour of being part of this year’s International Day of Pink Colouring Book which is free to download here: https://www.dayofpink.org/en/resources. 🌈🙏✨ 

Kevin International Day of Pink Portrait

This is the 4th edition of the popular e-book and was launched earlier in June for Pride Month. In the first two hours it was available it was downloaded 4500 times!

International Day of Pink writes:  “Celebrate pride through learning and art—learn about 2SLGBTQIA+ folks who are advocating for human rights, sharing our stories, advancing our culture through art, fighting for trans & non-binary inclusion, and healing through Two-Spirit teachings.”
 

The 4th edition features: Lucas Silveira, Baby Bel Bel, Dayna Danger, Fay Slift, T’áncháy Redvers, Kimahli Powell, Susan Gapka, Gia Irina Brunetti-Provenzano, Kevin Allen, Ma-Nee Chacaby, Ryan G. Hinds, and Laureenblu Waters Istchii Nickamoon.

international day of pink 4th editionTo help celebrate we are hosting a colouring contest. The prize will be a free copy of Our Past Matters, which we will mail to the winner. To win the book, colour any one of the portraits in the 4th edition and email us a picture of your handiwork by the end of June. We will randomly draw one of the portraits as a winner. Get colouring and happy pride!
 
{KA}

The Pisces Bathhouse Raid @ 40

We just passed the 40th anniversary of the Pisces Bathhouse Raid in Edmonton on May 30, 1981.

Queer historian and esteemed colleague, Darrin Hagen, has plumbed this history extensively. For the anniversary, he has written a five-part series for the Edmonton City as Museum Project and produced a video titled: PISCES for Theatre Network.

Court Sketch
Court sketch. Image courtesy of Darrin Hagen.

PISCES reveals some never-before seen details of the undercover investigation, the actual raid, and the aftermath of the largest mass arrest in Edmonton’s history. These actual documents are read by young members of Edmonton’s Queer arts community. It also feature first-hand recollections from one of the only men arrested that night to ever speak on the record about the raid, Edmonton Queer icon Michael Phair.” —TheatreNetwork.ca

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Front page news that summer in the Body Politic

One of the most striking details in the sting operation was how methodical and intense it was. In February 1981, the Edmonton Police Service started sending pairs of young undercover police detectives to pose as members of the Pisces Spa. In total, there were nine officers who spent weekend nights mingling, watching, and making copious, detailed notes concerning the activities of the men who gathered there for the purpose of sex.

Darrin’s work is riveting and recounts an important flashpoint in our human rights struggle in Alberta. Looking for a Calgary connection, Darrin told us: “so far we have not discovered any Calgarians in the list of found-ins but after a year, we still don’t have all the names. Navigating the process or getting info is a whole separate story, and it’s far from over.”

Queer history fades without champions; we thank Darrin for this consequential work.

{KA}