Heteronormative Waltz – who is leading whom?!
Saturday February 15th 2020, 5:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

If we look at a Timeline for gay rights in Canada, the majority of notable documentation begins in 1965 with the case against Everette Klippert, who was the last Canadian to spend time in prison for being gay. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced  Bill C-150 in 1967, also known as the Omnibus Bill, which would lead to the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada. While Klippert’s case was a huge stepping stone in the gay rights movement in Canada, most Canadians don’t even remember his name. What many do remember, however, is the famous quote that came along with the creation of this Bill:

…there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” – Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1969

While he wasn’t wrong, and as enlightened and progressive as this may have seemed, Bill C-150 was not the legalization of homosexuality. It was simply taking away the fear of being arrested for a ‘deviant’ sexual preference. In fact, it was ok to be gay, as long as it was between two consenting men…

Above the age of 21…

Behind closed doors….Away from the public eye.

This was not progress. But it was a small step for the government to look good, while making sure the rest of the public were not completely uncomfortable. This discomfort stems from centuries of downright hatred and repression of anyone exhibiting signs of homosexuality. During the Klippert trial, psychiatrists were recorded as saying that Klippert was ‘incurably homosexual’. The language of intolerance was rationalizing that those who were ‘afflicted’ by homosexuality were obviously mentally ill, and they had yet to find a cure for this social disease. Intolerance stems from fear, and fear is a motivator like no other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This perception morphed and altered itself like a game of telephone, all the while continuing its ignorance with Doug Wilson, in 1975. This is of particular interest to me personally, as I am an Education student at the University of Saskatchewan, and I’ve never heard of Doug Wilson before.

In 1975, Doug Wilson was banned from supervising interns at the U of S for putting an ad in the school newspaper, The Sheaf, reaching out in hopes of starting a gay club on campus. The Dean of the College of Education did not look kindly on having a “public involvement with the gay movement”. This was not just a rejection for Wilson, it became the catalyst that propelled his future activism in the LGBTQ community, creating waves of change that rippled across Canada.

 

Valerie Korineks book: Prairie Fairies: A History o f Queer Communities and People in Western Canada, 1930-1985 concludes simply that: queer people have always lived on the Prairies—even if they haven’t always been welcomed or acknowledged by others.” 

What baffles me most about many of the marks in history regarding gay rights, is how the narrative is portrayed, and what information is disseminated to the public. Up to this point, we see a lot of viewpoints written by straight people in power. Fear and ignorance control the masses, and so many moments in Canadian history, such as the 1981 Bathhouse Raids in Toronto, gave the public more fodder for outright discrimination and disgust for the gay community, instead of recognizing the fear and terror that hundreds of men went through when they were arrested and treated with brutality.

Over the decades, the LGBTQ community has evolved, has grown in numbers and strength, however, they have faced a lot of adversity, a lot of loss, and a lot of steps backwards in their fight for equality in this heteronormative waltz. Canadian governments have changed hands, and strides have been made federally to be more inclusive and progressive. We had gone from protests to Pride parades.

 

And back again…

Jason Kenney has made it his personal mission to dismantle the LGBTQ Curriculum in Alberta, putting hundreds of youth at risk. Doug Wilson fought to gather those together who needed a community, a voice, a family. The history and future of the LGBTQ community within Canada, relies on education, tolerance, understanding, and a voice.

Queer Canadians pre-date colonialism, and it would be a damn shame to let all of this hard work, simply to have the right to love who you love, be set back because those in power have the money and connections to silence the minorities, or to write the history books. Oral history is what kept First Nations culture alive for centuries, and as the years go on, the momentum builds.

 





     
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