Tag Archives: Outlooks

In Hot Water: The Raid

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. While not uncommon in the 80s, a bathhouse raid in the early aughts seemed quite anachronistic. 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.

Part I: The Raid

On that Thursday afternoon, Terry Haldane was sitting in his room at Goliath’s when he heard a bang that sounded like a gunshot as police busted in the door and 25-30 officers entered the premises. In short order, he and the other guests were told to get dressed and were brought upstairs to the Texas Lounge for processing. The accused were held in the lounge for four hours while CPS officials tested the bathhouse with Luminol, a chemical fluorescence test for bodily fluids.

Initially thinking the police were looking for drugs or someone wanted for a major crime, Terry asked a detective what was going on. They were told they were being charged with being a found-in of a common bawdy house (brothel) under the Criminal Code of Canada. The twelve other guests – most of them married – were charged with the same. Meanwhile, the owners of Goliath’s were charged with being keepers of a common bawdy house.

Gay bathhouses typically do not function as brothels: patrons typically pay an entry or membership fee for admittance to the facilities and then are free to have sex with other patrons, except in designated spaces such as a jacuzzi or public areas like a lobby or TV room. Ordinarily, nobody gets paid to have sex, and thus no prostitution occurs, but anyone suspected of receiving money or drugs for sex is swiftly ejected from the premises by staff.

According to Terry and Stephen, the trigger for the raid was an anonymous complaint left on a police department’s answering machine. Apparently, the man who left the complaint claimed that he had been prostituting down at Goliath’s and that he had been sexually assaulted there. The complaint was taken to the Crown, and a judge issued warrants for the surveillance and raid of the bathhouse. Terry and Stephen felt these claims in the complaint were unsubstantiated. Unfortunately, the man who made the complaint died in a motorcycle accident the day before he was set to testify.

So why would a police service decide to raid a bathhouse 20 years after the controversial raids in other cities, based on relatively scant evidence? There are a few hypotheses, but Terry and Stephen suspect that a big part of it was that Calgary had just gotten a new Chief Crown Prosecutor that wanted to make a name for himself. Not long before, an adult bookstore had been shuttered on 1st St SW, where there were peepshows and porn booths. They speculate that Goliath’s made another easy target to “clean up the city,” not expecting anyone to fight back in court.

Community outrage over the raid was chronicled in Calgary’s Outlooks Magazine as illustrated by this cheeky cover in the month following the raid.

Terry was taken to the police station and asked to give a statement. He was told that if he made a statement against the owners, the charges against him would go away. He refused, saying that the bathhouse had been licensed and properly health inspected for years; he’d been a regular at the bathhouse and never saw an exchange of money or anything of the sort. Having refused, he was given a court date in January to make his plea and contacted his lawyer. The Crown prosecutor also offered him a plea deal at this time—dropping all charges—if he agreed to take the Alternative Measures Program: a three-day rehabilitation program designed for Johns busted for attempting to purchase sex. While the other twelve arrested gentlemen took this bargain, Terry refused because he simply wasn’t buying sex down there and had done nothing illegal.

Terry contacted his long-time partner, Stephen Lock, about what had happened. They and a few other found-ins met to figure out what to do next. They were afraid of the ramifications for their marriages, relationships with their children, jobs, and because of their religious affiliations. They were justifiably worried: the raid was covered in several media outlets, including The Gatekeeper, Global, CTV, CBC, Xtra West and Xtra Toronto. Their names were published despite the request of the Crown prosecutor to have a publication ban. The judge refused the ban, reasoning that names are published in other prostitution-related cases, and he didn’t believe this case should be any different.

Next week: Part 2.

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Full Court Press decades on in YYC

{Our sympathies go out to the friends and family of David Crosson, a lovely, witty man who passed away this week. A successful interior designer, he was also pivotal in the city’s gay media history through his work as editor of Outlooks Magazine from 1997 – 2005. He will be missed. – Kevin}

No other gay organization in Calgary has the long and storied history of the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch (ISCCA). A chapter in the International Court System, the ISCCA hosts many drag events throughout the year as well as their signature coronation ball which elects a new Empress and Emperor annually. ISCCA events are dependably fabulous and fun. They often are also fundraisers for important community causes.

The Court System started in 1965 in San Francisco, and the first Canadian chapter began in Vancouver in 1971.  In the early 70s, a handful of gay friends from Calgary who were active at Club Carousel escaped to Spokane, Washington for a long weekend road trip. By chance, they encountered a drag ball hosted by the Imperial Court of Spokane. Not only did they have a terrific time, but they met other gays from all over North America who were also in attendance. The Calgarians were hooked: in the next couple of years, they travelled to other Court events in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, and Anchorage.

Jack's vest for ISCCA post

Court organizer and First Emperor, Jack Loewen, owned a leather vest with souvenir pins from Court events he travelled to.

Organization of the Calgary court began in April 1976. An application was made to the Mother Court of Canada in Vancouver, and by June of that year, Calgary’s charter was granted. The organizers looked for local inspiration in naming their court, settling on “Chinook Arch” as an iconic Calgary phenomenon. Legally they registered themselves as a daughter group of the Scarth Street Society which also operated Club Carousel. Their first major function was the coronation ball held in January 1977 at the Holiday Inn. With a small loan of $500 from the Club, they hosted an event that made history. It was one of the most elaborate balls the Court system had seen to date, featuring a sit-down dinner and the crowning of Calgary’s first Empress Veronica Dawn and first Emperor Jack. Representatives from Courts in San Francisco, Seattle, and Alaska were in attendance.

In the first year of operations, the Calgary Court had paid back their loan and ended the year $1700 in the black. Generally speaking, any profits the Court makes from their activities are donated to worthy causes. However, in the 70s it was sometimes difficult to find charities who would accept support from the gay community. Emperor Jack, in an Outlooks interview, remembered that the children’s hospital rejected their potential donation then because it came from a gay group. In contrast, the Children’s Wish Foundation was a group who early on did accept gay monies and consequently has been a recipient of ISCCA’s philanthropy ever since.

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Coronation ’78 Advertisement in Gay Moods Magazine (GIRC)

In the Court’s fourth year of operations, it decided to become independent of the Scarth Street Society and go its own way. There were some communication issues between the two groups, and Club Carousel itself had come to a natural end as members migrated to the more popular commercial gay bars which had emerged in Calgary.

Like the police/pride debate of this summer, Calgary’s LGBTQ2 community has been polarized before. In 1980, the community was extremely divided on the idea of having a gay rights march as part of the national conference of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Rights Coalition which the city was hosting. A representative from the Court said to the Calgary Herald: “the minute you start flaunting yourself, you’ve got a problem [The march] is an embarrassment to the entire community.”

However, feelings changed. 11 years later at Calgary’s first Pride Parade, Calgary’s 15th Empress, Tiffany (Lawrence Steedman), led the parade in a purple beaded gown and confidently faced down protesters who spat and cursed. Tiffany said: “I’m proud to represent my community. Every drag queen wants to be empress, it’s an honour.” Member of Parliament Svend Robinson, who spoke at that event gave the nod to the Court explaining that it had been drag queens who bravely were the vanguard of the gay rights movement in North America.

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Coronation ’86 Poster from the Broach Magazine

Toronto writers from The Body Politic were bemused by the Court when they wrote an in-depth feature about Calgary’s gay community published in September 1980:

“The court system seems to be a purely western phenomenon, and rather bizarre to most easterners. Most gay activists, even western ones, seem slightly embarrassed by the whole thing and tend to react as if they’re being forced to talk about a tribal custom they really wish the anthropologists hadn’t discovered. [The Court] simply throws the biggest gay parties Calgary gets to see, and the intrigue behind who gets elected Emperor and Empress probably makes a run at the Calgary mayoralty seems rather tame.”

Ironically, a Toronto Court would form later in that decade holding its first coronation ball in November 1987.

Other notable Calgary Court events include Mayor Ralph Klein’s famous impromptu speech at the 5th annual coronation ball in 1981. The speech, in support of the gay community, proved ground-breaking and those in attendance gave him a three-minute standing ovation. Sadly, he recanted his sentiments in the controversy that quickly followed.

In 1989, Court members ended up in a court of the legal kind, over a tiara snatching incident. The crown was stolen as a ransom for an outstanding debt on ball gowns which allegedly was owed by the queen who had won it.  The judge eventually acquitted the five accused of stealing the headpiece “due to an honest misunderstanding.”

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Empress XIII Justine Tyme and Empress XIV Ty Morgan on the cover of AGLP.

The ISCCA also has sponsored daughter Courts into existence.  In September 1990 they were instrumental in granting a charter to Regina’s Court: the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Governing Body, Golden Wheat Sheaf Empire.

However in Calgary, perhaps the ISCCA’s biggest impact has been philanthropy. The Court took a leadership role during the AIDS crisis in Calgary, advocating for HIV prevention and conducting pivotal fundraising for AIDS research and housing of people with AIDS. Since its inception more than 40 years ago, the Court has raised and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for causes close to their heart. Good work we can all celebrate.

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The Passing of Nick de Vos

Last week I attended the funeral of Nick de Vos, who was one of the first gay elders we talked to when the Calgary Gay History Project started in the Autumn of 2012. Born in Holland in 1932, he and his family immigrated to Canada in 1948 after the war.

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Tom and Nick on holiday in 1960

He wrote to me once, “I have been gay since birth” and was lucky enough to find his life partner in 1959, Tom Deagon, who passed away in 2011 – a 51 year relationship! Nick was active in Calgary’s gay community when it was still largely underground, and talked often about fun times at the Palliser Hotel (the Kings Arms Tavern). He recalled:

Most of us had to enter through the front entrance and worked our way to the bar as the First Street bar entrance was too obvious – there was a danger of getting known and losing your job.

When the bar closed everyone placed a $1.00 on the table for someone to buy beer to keep the party going at someone’s apartment. There was always a volunteer host for those parties which went into the wee hours of the morning on weekends.

Nick valued his privacy and spent his lifetime being discrete where his sexual orientation was concerned; he operated on a don’t get asked – don’t explain principle with the world at large. Yet he was very out in the gay world, attending lots of gay events, including some he created. He was proud of the length of his relationship with Tom, and their 39th anniversary was featured in the June 1998 issue of Outlooks Magazine, a local gay publication.

A lifetime performer, Nick claimed the best gay bar Calgary ever had was Club Carousel, where he performed on stage numerous times, as well as created and managed numerous shows, including “It’s a Carousel World.”

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Nick (right) with a friend at Club Carousel in 1972

Nick was a bon vivant, a firm hugger, a prolific emailer and an accomplished event photographer.  He liked being in the centre of a party; his eyes often twinkled. In collaboration with Third Street Theatre, we held a Club Carousel Cabaret at the 2014 High Performance Rodeo. Nick, invited as a special guest, was moved to tears which he called tears of joy.

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Nick de Vos, Lois Szabo, and Kevin Allen at One Voice Chorus’ Club Carousel Concert  (2015)

We will miss you Nick.

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