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.
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.
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.
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 Press, Legislating 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.
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.
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.”
The Calgary Gay History Project is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada with a special event at the New Central Library.
In November 1967, Everett Klippert was sentenced to incarceration for life for being gay by the Supreme Court of Canada. This prompted a very famous quote from then Justice Minister, Pierre Trudeau.
December 1967: “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, and I think what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code.” Source: CBC (click to watch video).
On April 16, 1969, as Prime Minister, Trudeau presented the Criminal Law Amendment Act, (Bill C-150) in the House of Commons. The bill proposed to decriminalize homosexuality and allow abortion and contraception, along with other new regulatory measures on a number of less controversial issues. Debate raged in the House. The tone was rancorous and some Members of Parliament (MPs) were particularly shocking in their remarks.
For example, Calgary MP Eldon Wooliams said: “I do not want to have this kind of debauchery in our nation. I think there is a place for a filibuster. If people tell me to get on with the job, I will say to them: ‘Do you want me to legalize sexual intercourse with the animals of Canada?”
Bill C-150’s third reading passed on May 14th, specifically altering the crimes of gross indecency and buggery in private between two consenting adults aged 21 or older. Thus began a new chapter for the gay rights movement in Canada.
We intend to honour this consequential day in Canadian history! Planning has begun for a special event at the Central Library from 6:30 – 7:45 PM! We are designing an evening which promises to be full of history, theatre, and art. We are also seeking input and participation: if you have an idea for the evening program email us.