Tag Archives: history

In Hot Water: Our Relationship with the Police

Terry Haldane, Stephen Lock & the 2002 Goliath’s Bathhouse Raid

At around 2:30 PM on a Thursday, Calgary Police Service officers invaded one of our community’s safe havens, Goliath’s Bathhouse. This surprise raid occurred on December 12, 2002. In this series of blog posts, we will delve into the history of the Goliath’s raid. Along the way, we will explore injustice, changing queer culture and our complicated relationship with the police, past and present.

Read Part 1: The Raid: here.

Read Part 2: The Court Battle: here.

The relationship between police and various minority communities is a contentious and current issue: the Goliath’s Raid is an interesting case study.

Reflecting on the conduct of state agents, it appears both police officers and the case’s Crown prosecutor behaved professionally and compassionately. During the raid, one married man was so upset about the implications for his marriage, family, and religious community that he felt like throwing up. However, an officer came and reassured him that it was not like a murder or robbery charge, describing it as quite a minor thing. The Crown prosecutor generally avoided airing dirty laundry in the trial, and tried to get a publication ban on the names. According to Terry, he told Terry’s lawyer at tennis that a case like this is the last thing he’d want to be assigned because it made no sense. Even as far back as the 80s, Terry had positive, supportive experiences with police, especially when he experienced a brutal gay-bashing and multiple officers visited him, with one even giving Terry soup his wife had made.

Regarding the organization as a whole, Terry and Stephen still think the Calgary Police Service has yet to take full responsibility. Stephen brought up at a liaison meeting that then-police chief Jack Beaton should apologize. They privately learned later that Jack Beaton felt a tension between maintaining a healthy relationship with the community and his duty to investigate crime, and he did apparently ask the police commission if an apology could be issued, but was denied as they thought it would be seen as admitting fault. Calgary Police Service chief Roger Chaffin did apologize in July 2018 for “not fully considering the impacts of a 2002 Goliath’s bathhouse raid and the impacts that would have on the community […] we are sorry for the role we played in this part of your painful past.” Despite this, Terry and Stephen feel the apology wasn’t full-throated enough in explicitly taking responsibility.

Calgary Police Chief’s formal apology to the LGBTQ2+ community on July 27, 2018.

As mentioned earlier, prior to 2002, the relationship between police and gays was improving and actively being bettered. Though the raid felt like a backstabbing, Terry and Stephen also felt that within about five years, the relationship had mostly re-healed. They now see that relationship being threatened again by current discourse and political movements. Regarding the movement to exclude police from Pride, they have the sentiment of “how dare you” after their work on building that relationship. They respect Calgary Pride’s right to run their organization as they see fit and to be inclusive, but they don’t see this as a productive path forward. In response to the call to defund the police, Terry actually banded together with an officer’s mother and Brett Wilson (formerly of Dragon’s Den) to mobilize against this movement.

It is worth pointing out that Terry and Stephen’s story is primarily a reflection of white cisgender gay men’s interaction with police. People from different racial, economic, and gender backgrounds have experienced interactions with police that vary: with some people having no interactions or positive interactions, and others experiencing real discrimination and abuse from police. Nevertheless, it is still useful to look at this event as an example of how the police’s relationship with minority groups can be damaged and repaired depending on both party’s actions and attitudes.

In this case, the police put in the initiative to work with the gay community in the 1990s, betrayed that trust in 2002, and then spent the subsequent years rebuilding and finally apologizing—all of which required buy-in, hard work, forgiveness, and self-advocacy from members of the community. Both groups stand to benefit from one another: the police gain cooperation and insight from a community that may be harder to engage, and the gay community gains better protection and a reduced experience of discrimination from police. It is astonishing that people who faced direct discrimination from police encroachment on their sexuality are able to hold a pro-police position and then afterward work to help them connect with the community. It is a testament to the power of forgiveness.

As it stands, it seems at least some of the white gay male community has re-established a relatively functional relationship with the police. The case is not so with all members of the LGBTQ2+ community, each racial and gender community potentially facing injustice with varying degrees of severity. It is up to each community to determine if and how their relationship with the police can be mended. It is up to the police to put in the effort to adapt and build a cooperative relationship with them. CPS says that they are committed to serving our minority communities. Can we hold them to that and work with them to let them know what we need?

Next week: Part 4.

{SC}

Holiday Reads from @YYCGayHistory

Calgary-Gay-History-Project-adjacent author, Gordon Sombrowski, launched What Narcissus Saw this month. It is the second short story collection from the acclaimed Fernie/Calgary based writer. Holiday shoppers can find What Narcissus Saw at a handful of independent bookstores and online. His Calgary launch party at Loft112 was on Saturday, December 11th.

Athabasca University Press just released Bucking Conservatism: Alternative Stories of Alberta from the 1960s and 1970s edited by Leon Crane Bear, Larry Hannant, and Karissa Robyn Patton. Calgary Gay History Project researchers Nevena Ivanović and Kevin Allen contributed a chapter to the book with editor Larry Hannant called, Gay Liberation in Conservative Calgary. Bucking Conservatism was produced under a creative commons license and is free to read online or download.

Our Past Matters has had another stellar year. It is now a textbook in two University of Calgary courses—one in Social Work, the other in Gender & Sexuality Studies—despite not being an academic read! The Our Past Matters ebook also had a short run as an Amazon #1 Best Seller in its category.

Readers note: this is our last post for the calendar year. Thank you for your ongoing support and enthusiasm for local queer history. Consider these books as our good read recommendations for this holiday season. If you enjoy them, leave reviews on sites such as GoodReads and Amazon for other readers to discover.

Happy reading!

{KA}

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}