Gay historian Kevin Allen says he and his partner shed a tear as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to Canada’s LGBTQ+ community earlier this week. He says Trudeau’s decision to say sorry acknowledged the struggle and pain faced by so many these past decades.
“It was more than just a word, I feel like we turned a corner as a country,” Allen said.
Not only did the prime minister acknowledge the federal government’s role in persecuting gay civil servants, he also laid out a $145-million compensation package.
Allen, who curates the Calgary Queer History website, has spent 25 years reporting and writing about struggles in the community. He says the 1990s were very scary for him because there were a lot of men dying and a lot of vocal opposition to the gay community from politicians and lawmakers.
He says the one positive outcome of struggling together was that it created community.
“There were gay bars and restaurants and there was a great sense of camaraderie because we were all in it together and that is kind of lost now in the community,” he said. “I feel because we are more integrated, which is a good thing, which is absolutely a wonderful thing, but the gay culture has kind of changed as a result.”
“I have seen discrimination. I have felt discrimination even from members of my own family so this means everything — everything.” - Hilary Chapple says.
Calgarian Hilary Chapple was among a group of activists and allies who together watched the Trudeau apology at the Calgary Outlink office on Tuesday.
Chapple said Trudeau’s apology was better than any speech she has ever seen.
“It was a long time coming,” she says. ”As a woman who has been out for 34 years, that means the world to me.”
“I have seen discrimination. I have felt discrimination even from members of my own family so this means everything — everything.”
Like Allen, Chapple said she won’t get the compensation because she was not a part of the civil service.
But she did face discrimination, especially because of her public activism.
“I was afraid to come out on TV but I did because it needed to be done and I had my car demolished. I was let go from my job, so yeah I suffered that discrimination as well.”
“I came out totally in 1983 and I was part of a movement to get same sex marriage across Canada. I lived in Red Deer at the time with my girlfriend. Because of that, I was discriminated against.”
After the televised apology, Chapple says she planned to go home to her fiance and celebrate.
- By Mariam Taiwo