Tag Archives: human-rights

In Hot Water: The Court Battle

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.

Part 2: The Court Battle

January 10th, 2013, was the first court appearance; Terry pleaded not guilty. Facing a potential of five years in jail, Terry faced trial for two years. Initially, due to the charge being a “sexual offence,” Terry was issued a “no-go order,” wherein he couldn’t enter the premises of Goliath’s or the Texas Lounge even for a drink with friends without risking arrest. However, the judge eventually dropped the no-go order, stating that it was a bogus charge, as the trial was pending: there was no reason he shouldn’t be able to get a drink. Regardless, the Texas Lounge and Goliath’s were closed for months.

Some of the tactics in the trial were underhanded, with the Crown not telling the defence lawyers about redactions in statements affecting the case and the police publicizing luminol evidence of semen and bloodstains on surfaces. The Crown also surveyed neighbouring establishments and people to get their opinion on the bathhouse being in their neighbourhood. This ended up backfiring on the Crown, as the general sentiment reflected in the survey was that neighbours were not concerned about the bathhouse as it wasn’t noisy. As well, there was no way for minors or members of the public to stumble in as the entry was double locked doors—it didn’t bother them men were having sex down there.

Prior to the raid, Goliath’s had been surveilled for six months. Retrospectively, patrons had noticed cars with people sitting in them near the premises, which was odd. Then, one night before the raid, Terry spoke to a young man in the shower who seemed nervous. The man stated that it was his first time there and asked if Terry could give him a tour of the place, and he did. Later, another patron commented to Terry that something seemed off with that guy. Terry replied that it was his first time, and the other guy said it was something else because if someone were nervous, they wouldn’t have asked for a tour.

That man turned out to be an undercover detective. When asked what he saw in court, the detective said he saw about 20 guys, that he saw a few guys watching TV, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, that kind of thing. When asked if he saw sexual activity in a public place, he said no, except he saw a man masturbating in his room with the door open, to which the judge replied something to the effect of “seriously? And that would be a problem; why? It’s a gay steambath; nobody else was there. What’s the big deal about that? That’s not even part of the evidence.” An undercover officer also spoke to co-owner Darrell, who told him something like, “all these men come to the bathhouse for sex, he keeps the place open, they drink, he didn’t know if guys are paid or not.” Terry supposed this exchange Darrell embellished to impress this man he didn’t know was an officer.

The police held a town hall meeting with the gay community at The Eagle leather bar following the raid. The community felt the meeting was pointless as the police would not divulge or admit anything, stating that the trial was still pending. Lots of anger was directed at the police for playing dirty. Mistrust between the gay community and the police peaked, which ran against the generally amicable relationship the two parties enjoyed before the raid.

For example, Terry and Stephen had been involved in three committees with the police, including the gay liaison committee, a drug committee, and a prostitution committee. In those years, a bridge was being built. The police participated in the gay rodeo, tried to recruit gay men as officers, and participated in Pride. The liaison committee existed to facilitate communication and cooperation between the police and the community.

There was a sense of betrayal of trust, especially on the liaison committee that they would do this raid—without warning. However, the order for the raid came from higher-ups, and the police liaison could not give the community advance notice. During the trial, Terry had to step back from his committee work. The general sense was that if he didn’t fight his case in court, it would virtually give the police a free pass to encroach on other gay establishments: the bridge between the two parties severely damaged.

Terry Haldane in Xtra.ca, November 12, 2003. Photo: Stevie Lee Anderson

On the public opinion front, Terry was able to push back thanks to the help of friendly media outlets. He appeared on several radio shows, including Speak Sebastian and Gene Rodman’s CGAY 92. He also appeared in print media, with one particularly poignant Xtra article featuring a racy picture of him in the shower taken by Stevie Lee Anderson aiming to “give them something to talk about.” A copy of the article was sent to Jack Beaton, the police chief at the time. Terry’s partner and activist Stephen also appeared in the media. The editor of Capital Xtra, based out of Ottawa, tried to get him to berate the police in an interview. However, Stephen would not, as he didn’t feel that the police deserved it, especially since they had both developed good, social relationships with many officers.

In general, Terry and Stephen felt that the response was stronger from other communities than from the Calgary gay scene. They had received letters of support from communities like Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and New York City. The turnout at the town hall with the police was about 40-60 people. The community here generally avoided rocking the boat and turned the blame on victims, saying things like: “you shouldn’t have been down there anyway; it’s a terrible place.” When Stephen and Keith Purdy tried to organize a demonstration holding white towels in front of the Court of Queen’s Bench, only a handful of people showed up.

Stephen felt, in general, that Calgary’s gay community was relatively conservative or apolitical, that gay people here mainly were interested in going to the bar, going to Victoria’s for brunch, and cruising the park once in a while. He joked that he had a bruise from people poking a finger at him. He was often told, “you don’t speak for me” when working on issues like gay marriage with Egale, or pushing to get sexual orientation in provincial human rights legislation with the Calgary Lesbian and Gay Political Action Guild. For the Goliath’s event, this conservatism manifested in a lack of support or funds from those Terry called the “A-Gays:” wealthy, cocktail party hosting, privileged gay men he knew. Terry said they refused to sign cheques for the Goliath’s defence, not wanting to be associated with an “icky place like that,” despite the fact that Terry said he had seen several of them down at Goliath’s on multiple occasions.

The trial posed a major financial burden. Terry and Stephen paid over $75,000 towards the case, between fundraising and spending their own money. Thankfully, some of the legal work was done pro-bono, and the Egale Canada Defence Fund provided a sum of $60,000 to help with legal fees.

Eventually, in the next to last court appearance, the judge said that the case had to be moved along. Terry’s defence said that either the Crown had to dismiss the charges or that they were going to do a Charter rights challenge, which they would take to the Supreme Court if necessary. The judge chuckled and remarked that they were biting off quite a lot.

Three months and thousands of dollars later, at the final court hearing, the Crown gave the results of their survey and concluded that a conviction was unlikely, therefore they decided to stay the charges. This meant that if any new evidence were found in the next year, they would charge Terry again, but if not, charges would be dropped. Terry marked off the days on his calendar, and one year later, he was free.

Terry then returned to his police committee work and never held it against the police officers. He understood that they were following orders and did not mistreat anyone throughout the ordeal. Both Terry and Stephen maintained a staunchly pro-police stance and wished to see a return to the former cooperative relationship between them and the gay community, including their formal inclusion in Pride. Terry concluded that the Goliath’s ordeal didn’t sour him towards the police. What upset him was how this immense fallout happened due to an anonymous complaint left on an answering machine.

Next week: Part 3.

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Hello 2022!

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Calgary Gay History Project. Phew, it feels like we have done a lot, but we couldn’t have done it without ongoing community support and encouragement—thank you!

The Project is powered by volunteers who do this research off the side of their desks. Consequently, I’m happy to introduce a new research volunteer, Sheldon Cannon, who is exploring the history of the Goliath’s Bathhouse raid in Calgary.

Globe and Mail photo, Dec. 18, 2002, captioned: “The door to Goliath’s Sauna has a sign saying closed, since the bathhouse was raided by Calgary police late last week. The gay community is outraged by the charges filed against 13 men. Source: Ted Jacobs/Calgary Herald”

The raid is also having an anniversary—it’s been 20 years—and Sheldon will be writing a series of blog posts to explore the raid’s impact on the city’s queer history. In addition to archival research, Sheldon is interviewing people who were present during the raid and community members who have memories of the event to share. Covid-willing, we hope to have a public presentation about the raid sometime this year.

Sheldon Cannon

Sheldon is a medical student with a background in science and an interest in history, politics, and anthropology. Raised in rural Saskatchewan and having completed his BSc in Physiology at the University of Alberta, he is a prairie boy through and through. Having dipped his toe into history as a teenager on his local museum board, it was a workshop with Edmonton’s premiere queer historian Darrin Hagen that got him interested in gay history specifically. He discovered the Calgary Gay History Project through their video on Everett Klippert after finding out Everett was born in Sheldon’s hometown. Sheldon’s project on the 2002 Goliath’s Bathhouse raid seeks to explore our community’s ever-changing relationship with police and how physical spaces (or lack thereof) impact gay life. Outside of history, Sheldon also assists in medical research and endeavours to develop his artistic side as a beginner dancer and acrobat.

Welcome, Sheldon!

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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!

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