Tag Archives: Legislating Love

Everett Klippert Coda

As many readers of the Calgary Gay History Project know, a lot of our work has been focussed on the life of Everett Klippert—unjustly incarcerated for most of the 1960s for being gay.

Everett (bottom right) with his brothers, the year before his first incarceration

In 2020, the Klippert family applied to the Parole Board of Canada for an expungement of their uncle’s criminal record—a provision that was made available to them through the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act. This Act was part of the Government of Canada’s formal apology to the LGBTQ2 community in 2017.

The expungement order was granted on November 18, 2020, which means Everett is deemed never to have been a criminal. Although he died almost 25 years ago, his family is deeply satisfied with the outcome.

Interestingly, Ottawa-based lawyer Brian Crane, who defended Everett in the Supreme Court trial of 1967, offered to assist the family with the application, pro bono. It’s remarkable that Mr. Crane’s career has spanned these two ends of Everett’s story.

Kevin Allen and Brian Crane in conversation as part of Calgary Pride’s 2020 History Program

The Calgary Gay History Project is very grateful to have been part of this journey with the Klippert family. To learn more about Everett’s story, and why it is important to Canadian history, we have included a few links.

Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story, an award-winning 17 minute documentary by director Laura O’Grady.

Legislating Love, the podcast by playwright Natalie Meisner, Sage Theatre and the Alberta Queer Calendar Project.

Why I’m Celebrating 1969 and Calgary’s Gay Rights Anti-Hero in the Sprawl.

Everett Klippert in the Canadian Encyclopedia

Klippert Month: a series of articles on this website about the life of Everett Klippert.

A car loan due to Merton Klippert—Everett’s debts are paid in full.

{KA}

YYC Queer History be my Valentine

Legislating Love: The Everett Klippert Story has returned as a radioplay and podcast. To celebrate, the Alberta Queer Calendar Project and Sage Theatre are hosing an online Listening Party, on Saturday, February 13th at 4:30 pm. Participants will gather to listen to the episode, followed by a Q&A with members of the cast and crew at 7:00 pm {including Kevin and Tereasa from the Calgary Gay History Project}.

Legislating Love was written by Calgary author, playwright, poet, and professor Natalie Meisner. It premiered in March 2018 at Sage Theatre to critical acclaim. The play explores the story of Calgary bus driver Everett Klippert, who was the last Canadian convicted of being a dangerous sexual offender because of his homosexuality. The Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark judgment in November 1967 set a new bar for injustice: Klippert was given a life sentence.

The play is told through the perspective of aspiring historian Maxine, who is researching the story of Everett. She becomes fascinated with Everett’s case and with discovering the man beyond the headlines. Inspired and captivated, Maxine connects with a senior at a local assisted living facility she knows only as Handsome, one of Klippert’s lovers and perhaps the only person who can truly illuminate the past. At the same time, Maxine is navigating her own new relationship with Métis comedian Tonya. This heartwarming, multi-generational exploration of queer love tells the near-forgotten story of one of Canada’s quiet heroes and reminds us all that the past must be remembered as we work together for a better future.

The radioplay features the work of Jason Mehmel (director/production coordinator), Kathryn P. Smith (sound designer), as well as actors Jenn Forgie, Matt McKinney, Kevin Rothery, and Kathy Zaborsky. Details about the episode and the launch party can be found at sagetheatre.com.

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Shaun Hunter recently released an online literary map of Calgary; a product of her Historian in Residence time at the Calgary Public Library. Heritage Calgary is a partner organization in this residency and you can find the map on its website: here. Note: there are several queer spots to discover (I was delighted to find the Tegan and Sara house). Shaun has compiled an LGBTQ+ reading list that can accompany one’s geographic sleuthing.

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Finally, my own valentine, Gordon Sombrowski, has publicly released a new short story, titled Pigeon Droppings—set in Calgary—as a teaser to his upcoming collections of short stories: What Narcissus Saw.

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Legislating Love Launch!

Next Monday, December 9th, join us for a significant Calgary gay history event: Legislating Love: The Everett Klippert Story, the award-winning play, is launching as a book. Published by the University of Calgary PressLegislating Love features local playwright, Natalie Meisner’s emotionally engaging script with director’s notes from Sage Theatre’s Jason Mehmel and essays from the Calgary Gay History Project’s Kevin Allen and Tereasa Maillie.

There will be speeches, a special performance from the play, and a reception and book signing to follow. This free event starts at 7 PM in the BMO room of the Central Library. The library would prefer people to register in advance: here.

Legislating Love Cover Rev.indd

December 9, 2019 Book Launch

Sage Theatre premiered Legislating Love in March 2018 to much acclaim. The play explores the story of Calgary bus driver Everett Klippert, who was the last Canadian convicted of being a dangerous sexual offender because of his homosexuality. The Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark judgment in November 1967 set a new bar for injustice: Klippert was given a life sentence.

The judgment led to outrage amongst some progressives in Canada, prompting Pierre Trudeau’s famous quote: “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.” It also profoundly impacted the nation’s gay community when homosexuality was subsequently partially decriminalized in 1969.

Giving our stories artistic expression keeps them vital; it allows our history to have resonance and relations with the present. One of the things most admirable about Legislating Love is how deeply centred it is in Calgary. In fact, our city was more than a backdrop for the drama; it was a character itself in the play. Chicken on the Way, the Calgary Tower, and the Number One bus route: Calgary audiences thrilled to place themselves in the play’s narrative.

Audiences were moved emotionally by the production. The genuine quality of the play and positive word of mouth ensured that the run became largely sold out.

Natalie Meisner

Playwright Natalie Meisner

Natalie said: “For me, one of the greatest endorsements for the show was the live testimonials as well as the written ones by Everett’s family and contemporaries. We have been contacted by theatres from across the country with interest in the script. I think this means we have opened a door to this Calgary based story and indeed this particular man’s story to the hearts and the minds of the country.”

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