The Calgary Gay History Project has written before about gay activist Windi Earthworm and anti-gay rights crusader Anita Bryant – but separately. In fact, they had an antagonistic encounter in 1978. That year, Anita swung through Canada as part of Renaissance International’s Christian Liberation Crusade. She made a tour stop in Edmonton on April 29th. 40 Calgary activists hurried north, joining activists there, to protest her cross-Canada tour.
Anita Bryant in the May 1, 1978 edition of The Albertan
Windi and his friend Myra “My” Lipton went independently of the loosely organized “Calgarians against Anita” delegation. They decided direct action was required to disrupt Bryant’s auditorium of 6000 supporters. My remembered: “We got in under the guise that we were students doing a study about the spaces people meet in. We scoped out the stage and decided on our spot. I helped Windi chain and lock himself.”
My then went into the seats to find a spot to generate a call and response disturbance with Windi, but she turned back when she noticed audience members hassling him. She asked Windi if he was OK. He replied, “Yeah, except these really kind Christian folk are ready to hang me,” by the chain around his neck.
Windi Earthworm in the May 1, 1978 edition of The Albertan
Anita eventually appeared at the Northlands Coliseum under heavy police escort. Windi screamed: “You have me in shackles, Anita!” She replied, “I love you, and I know enough to tell you the truth so you will not go to eternal damnation.” Windi called back, “You love me so much you want me in prison.” The heckling continued intermittently throughout the event. The courageous Calgarians were detained briefly afterwards for questioning by police and were permitted to leave.
The Calgary Gay History project recently posted about the origins of Gay Information and Resources Calgary (GIRC). However there was an earlier, somewhat short-lived group, “A People’s Liberation Coalition” (PLC), which pre-dates GIRC.
Started in early January 1973, the PLC aimed to serve the local gay community by offering information and counselling: the peer support model which carries through to this day. Their office was located at the Old Y (now CommunityWise) in room 314, and they attempted to have office hours from 7-11 PM, seven days/week.
After its founding,the PLC announced their intention to sponsor “a mixed boogie” at a local community hall.
An Australian gay activist named Brian Lindberg who travelled through Western Canada later in 1973 described the movement in Calgary as going through a difficult period. He wrote:
The gay information centre was staffed by only a few people (one in particular) who continued to maintain the service even though little assistance could be obtained. Considering the population size of Calgary, I was surprised not to find a well organized gay liberation movement.
Some of the people involved, in PLC were activists, Windi Earthworm, My Lipton, Len Girivitz and Jeannie MacKay, who as a group were later responsible for GIRCs founding in 1975. We know that some of the PLC liberationists came from the University of Calgary. My Lipton, a lesbian feminist, was described in the student newspaper, The Gauntlet, as a “militant gay liberationist,” and was involved in the founding of a Gay Liberation Front chapter on campus in the Autumn of 1972.
Little else is known at present about the PLC. At the Old Y they are not listed as one of the historic groups who had office space there. If you know more, contact us: here.
Posted in Gay history
Tagged bisexual, Gauntlet, gay, Gay history, gay liberation front, GIRC, human-rights, lesbian, My Lipton, queer, transgender, University of Calgary, Windi Earthworm
The University of Calgary Student Press, 1970-1980: From Anonymous Classified Ads to Gay Liberation Op-Eds to Gay Academic Union as a Part of Campus Life
As the Criminal Code changes that decriminalized private same-sex acts between consenting adults in Canada went into effect in August 1969, the legal struggle against discrimination, for full civil and human rights of sexual minorities and for social and political change in Canada was just beginning. The 1970s are often called a formative age of queer activism: a time of gay and lesbian liberation movements, changing mores about sexuality in general, of a forging of a more visible community of people identifying by their sexual orientation, building upon but moving away from underground queer subcultures (as discussed in an earlier post on The Body Politic).
We looked at over ten years (1969-1980) of the University of Calgary student newspaper, The Gauntlet, to deepen our understanding of Calgary’s gay and lesbian history during this turbulent decade, and explore the role that the University and its student press played, providing a space for debate, but also for reaching out, support and organizing around an emerging advocacy agenda.
The Gauntlet Classified Ads – 1972
Despite the Gauntlet’s uneven editorial tone and often flawed reporting, as well as many omissions of landmark moments in gay and lesbian activism of the 1970s, a look at its writing from this decade still reveals important aspects of gay and lesbian history in the city. Moreover, it testifies to the role that the University of Calgary played as a public space, where early gay activism, as well as debate on some of the defining national gay and lesbian issues of the decade took place.
Read the full essay: here.
Posted in Gay history
Tagged bisexual, Calgary, Gauntlet, gay, Gay history, Harold Call, lesbian, My Lipton, queer, Rick Sullivan, transgender, University of Calgary