To Forgive and Forget? Homonationalism, Hegemony, and History in the Gay Apology

By Steven Maynard

This is a featured paper co-published with C4E Journal: Perspectives on Ethics


In June 2017, in a ceremony on Parliament Hill, where “the Pride, Transgender Pride, and Canada 150 flags were raised,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially announced what he’d been promising for over a year: “The government will introduce legislation to make it possible to erase the convictions for Canadians who were found guilty under historical, unjust laws for sexual activity with a same sex partner.”[1]

For a historian, who is typically tucked away in the archives, it can be a tad disconcerting to discover the records you’ve been working with for the past almost three decades – historical court records of sexual offences between men – might be ‘erased.’ It began in February 2016 when the prime minister’s press secretary conveyed the government’s intention to seek a posthumous pardon for Everett Klippert, the man whose multiple convictions for gross indecency during the 1960s led to his designation as a ‘dangerous sexual offender’ and indefinite imprisonment, and whose case played a part in pushing Justin’s father to partially decriminalize homosexuality in 1969. The review of records and possible pardons for those convicted of buggery and gross indecency in the past is part of the government’s broader plan to apologize to all those LGBTQ people who suffered under unjust laws and policies, including those fired from the federal civil service and military during the postwar period right up to the early 1990s. Known as “the gay apology,” it is due to be delivered later today (November 28 2017).[2]

This is not the first time such an apology has been called for. Twenty-five years ago, in response to a journalistic exposé of the postwar purge of queer people from the civil service, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney told the House of Commons that the purge represented “a most regrettable incident,” but he stopped far short of offering an apology.[3] In 1998, Gary Kinsman, Patrizia Gentile and their team, in a preliminary report on their research into the government’s anti-queer national security campaign, called for an official state apology.[4] None was forthcoming from then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Two decades later, our pride-parade-loving prime minister with the rainbow socks has committed to making an official apology.

So why the gay apology now? Is it, as some suggest, a gesture of filial honour, that “Justin Trudeau has decided to complete a process begun by his father almost 50 years ago?”[5]

I want to suggest that a better answer is to be found in the changed political context, specifically, the rise of homonationalism. Barely emergent two decades ago but now fully in the saddle, homonational politics does not contest the heteronormative state but seeks inclusion within it.[6] It is what Egale, the nation’s LGBTQ lobby group, calls “progress through inclusion.” Egale even offers an “LGBTQ Inclusion Pocket Guide” – “the perfect gift for anyone seeking to improve their inclusive outlook” – for the low price of $15, “discounts available on bulk orders.” It is this queer bid for national inclusion coupled with the eagerness of the liberal state to improve its own inclusive outlook that makes the gay apology all but a done deal.

In countries where the gay apology is a done deal – Britain, Germany, New Zealand, and parts of Australia – it has been welcomed by a chorus of queer approval. A few dissenting voices, notably those of historians, attempted early on to curb queer enthusiasm, but it has not been enough to turn back the tide of gay apologizing, which continues to engulf western liberal democracies.[7] Just this month (November 2017), Scotland joined the ranks of queerly contrite nations. In Canada, commentary on the apology bemoans how we’ve slipped “from leader to laggard” on the world stage, losing our early lead in the amazing race to apologize and forced to forfeit bragging rights in what can sometimes seem like a competition for the prize of ‘nation most remorseful for the mistreatment of its queer citizens.’[8] The emerging consensus on the gay apology, along with the very real damage done by the state to some of its queer citizens, makes questioning the apology seem downright churlish.[9] But the political implications of the gay apology and the magnitude of what may amount to the ‘pardoning’ of over 150 years of queer history extend well beyond the interests of any single group and therefore demand critical consideration.

In Canada, the critique of gay apologies has been slow to emerge, and it has been led not by academics but by activists. As a contribution toward further developing a critical framework in which to understand the gay apology in Canada – particularly its articulation of homonationalism, liberal hegemony, and history – this paper should be considered part of the process of “disrupting queer inclusion.”[10]


We can begin with the fact that there is no mass movement calling upon the federal government for a gay apology. In this way, the gay apology reflects one of the central features of politics in these homonational times: a demobilized queer constituency. It is now commonplace to lament the decline if not outright disappearance of a grassroots queer movement in North America since the waning of AIDS activism in the mid-1990s. While such laments can mask a nostalgia for the days when the movement was led primarily by white cisgender gay men, it nevertheless remains true that over the past two decades the mass meetings and direct-action tactics of a broad-based activist movement have been supplanted by human-rights strategies and legal battles played out in courtrooms. This reached its pinnacle in the successful legal fight for same-sex marriage in 2005, which some critics argue highjacked and halted a movement already in retreat.[11] We see it now in the response to the government’s slow pace of action on the gay apology, which has been to launch a class action lawsuit. The Just Society Report (hereafter JSR), a document on the gay apology prepared by Egale, acknowledges the changed nature of queer politics: “many of our recent battles for equality have ended in the courtroom.” And yet the JSR exhorts, “Our movement must come together, and move forward with the robust and inclusive action plan Egale has put forward.” But what is this phantasmatic movement the JSR frequently conjures up? Where are the beseeching multitudes behind what the JSR calls “this great social project?”[12]

If we are to believe the Globe and Mail, the entire gay apology campaign owes its existence to the newspaper. According to this version of events, it all began in February 2016 with John Ibbitson’s first article on Everett Klippert: “Mr. Trudeau decided to recommend the pardon and order the review after the Globe and Mail raised Mr. Klippert’s case with the government.” The Globe cannot stop congratulating itself, taking every opportunity to remind readers that “Mr. Trudeau decided to pardon Mr. Klippert after his office was apprised of the case last week by The Globe and Mail”; “After a Globe investigation into Mr. Klippert’s case, the government said it will pardon men imprisoned for being gay.”[13]

The PMO might have been ignorant of this history, but it is not accurate to say, as Ibbitson does, that Klippert’s case has been “virtually forgotten. Until now.” Klippert was known by early homophile groups, such as the Association for Social Knowledge, and followed in the homophile press of the 1960s. That same decade, Klippert’s story was widely reported in the mainstream press – Sydney Katz, for instance, wrote two important features for the Toronto Star in November 1967 – and Klippert’s case was raised in the House of Commons. In the early 1970s, the scholar Cyril Greenland detailed Klippert’s “remarkable case” and noted that despite decriminalization, and “bizarre as it may seem, Mr. Klippert, the cause célèbre of these events is still languishing behind bars.”[14]

I first learned of Klippert thirty years ago by reading Gary Kinsman’s analysis of Klippert’s case and its significance for queer history in Canada in The Regulation of Desire (1987). In the outpouring of queer historical research and writing in the wake of Kinsman’s pioneering book, Klippert’s story has been told many times. Historical materials relating to Klippert have been collected and preserved by the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, and his plight popularized by community history projects like the Calgary Gay History Project. To suggest that Klippert was virtually forgotten “until now,” that is, until Ibbitson and the Globe, is simply self-serving; a little more humility on the part of the paper and Johnny-Ibbitson-come-lately would not be out of order.

The Globe also takes credit for the Prime Minister’s promise to apologize for the anti-queer purge of the civil service and military. According to the newspaper, it all “stem[s] from a series of Globe stories that examined the cases of people who were imprisoned or who were persecuted within the public service and the military because of their sexuality.”[15] Again, the truth lies elsewhere. We know about the civil service and military purges, along with the demand for a state apology, thanks not to the Globe but to the more-than-decade-long research conducted by Kinsman and Gentile, which culminated in their comprehensive 2010 study The Canadian War on Queers.[16] Part of what I’m pointing to here is the process by which queer historical work, often conducted by queer activist-researchers, gets taken up by the mainstream and then goes unacknowledged and/or is drained of its political import.

The Globe is on somewhat firmer ground in taking credit for prodding Egale into action. As the paper explained, “The Globe series prompted Egale to produce a report on how the federal government could comprehensively respond to past and current injustices directed at members of sexual minorities.”[17] Egale was indeed caught off guard by the Globe article and the government’s response. Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale, reported that “I was quite taken aback.”[18] Scrambling to play catch up, Egale produced the JSR, which begins by acknowledging “our desire to assist the Government with a process we knew had begun when triggered by John Ibbitson’s superb articles on Everett Klippert.” The following page of the report continues, “We also wish to acknowledge the Globe and Mail for reviving interest in Klippert’s story and the injustices done to our communities.”[19]

What does it mean when the call for a federal government apology to Canada’s queer citizens and the reviving of interest in the injustices to our communities originate with a newspaper and not the nation’s queer lobby group? In truth, it’s no mystery. It is another indication of a moribund movement. In the specific case of Egale, it transmogrified over the past several years from a political advocacy group to a “human rights trust,” whose charitable status and fee-for-service contracts with government agencies radically curtail its capacity for political intervention. As Kennedy put it, “We have to be very careful what we do, careful politically.”[20] Egale is not the only such group. The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, another Ottawa-based, education-oriented group, has produced its own report endorsing the gay apology and, as a charitable organization, presumably operates under political constraints similar to Egale.[21]

Not all groups in the apology campaign are charitable organizations. The “We Demand an Apology Network” brings together “people who were directly affected by the national security campaigns to purge ‘homosexuals’ from the public service, the RCMP and the military, and supporters and researchers who believe an injustice was done.” The Network, which submitted its own report to the government, differs in significant ways from Egale and the JSR. Rather than taking up the language and standpoint of the government, the Network is rooted more directly in the experiences of those affected by the Canadian state’s dismissal of, and discrimination against, queer employees/citizens. It centres the historical accounts of people who directly felt the sting of the state’s anti-queer policies and practices. In this way, it should be noted, the growing number of queer people willing to come forward and tell their stories accounts as much for the increased momentum of the gay apology as does the Globe or Egale.[22] That said, we can agree that an internet group like the Network does not a movement make.

A final group involved in the apology campaign is the government, or the politicians. Eight months after the initial promise of a pardon/apology, Trudeau appointed MP Randy Boissonnault as his special advisor on LGBTQ issues, including the gay apology. Commenting on his appointment, Boissonnault said “I look forward to collaborating closely with Egale and other organizations in the coming months to advance the government’s agenda for equality.”[23] The language is telling. The agenda is not being set by Egale or ‘the movement.’ It is the government’s agenda that is being advanced with Egale positioned in the role of collaborator.

The government apparatus of apology continues to grow. In March 2017, an LGBTQ2 Secretariat was established within the Privy Council Office, with a budget of $3.6 million over three years. In September, an advisory council was created to assist in the development of the gay apology. The council includes the usual mix of lawyers, politicians, and business people. It has no representation from anyone with firsthand experience of the government’s anti-queer practices and, despite dealing with a subject in which history and historical research figure prominently, there are no historians. It does include a retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces, one of whose last postings was as “deputy director of the Joint Command Centre for Canadian domestic operations and [who] oversaw events such as the Vancouver Olympics and the Toronto G8/G20 summit,”[24] the same summit that resulted in the arrest of over 1,000 protesters, including many queer demonstrators, and a subsequent independent report sharply critical of the summit’s security operations.[25]

As for what the council actually does, there is much talk of “stakeholder outreach and bilateral conversations,” although it is not clear how those conversations are supposed to take place when the government has demanded council members sign a confidentiality agreement.[26] Gary Kinsman was asked to sit on the council, a wise choice given his expertise, but Kinsman had to refuse the invitation in view of the way the government’s demand for confidentiality mirrors and reproduces the secrecy with which the Canadian state historically waged its war on queers.[27]

To be fair, the council does include a few long-time queer activists, but their effectiveness in representing and communicating with their constituencies is hampered by the government’s insistence on confidentiality. The council is supposed to serve as “an avenue of engagement,” but opportunity for council members to engage queer communities in an active and genuine dialogue is pared down to the more passive mode of sending out surveys with pre-set parameters and questions to ‘stakeholders,’ the feedback from which will be pass as ‘community consultation.’

In the campaign for the gay apology, then, we have the press and politicians; lobbyists, lawyers and lawsuits; an internet group and charitable organizations, all plugged in to a growing government bureaucracy devoted to the apology. If this is a movement, it is a very top-down version of one. Once upon a time, activists organizing for something like an apology from the federal government would have planned a large demonstration on Parliament Hill, or an activist group might have produced some highly public political theatre (I vote we strap in and wire up an effigy of Justin Trudeau to a replica of the Fruit Machine). But in the absence of activist groups and a mobilized constituency fired up over the gay apology, the preferred tactics seem to be report-writing, website creation, litigation, and a little petition-signing, all directed toward the government rather than to bringing a movement together.

And what do we know about some of the leaders of the apology campaign? Before his work on the apology, Ibbitson was best known as the Mike Harris / Stephen Harper-loving cheerleader for small government, lower taxes, and the free market. It’s entirely possible to read Ibbitson’s now-voluminous newspaper output on the apology without even knowing he’s gay. This is explained away by the quaint notion that his private life has no bearing on his public persona or work.[28] As for Boissonnault, he’s been described as an “animated business-consultant-turned-rookie-MP.” He describes himself as “a successful entrepreneur” with “a strong record of leadership in business.” In fact, he tells us, “I love business and wealth generation … I made the choice to stop working full time for other people because I was excited for the freedom that owning my own business allowed.” If freedom can be found through business, business aspirations can also apparently curtail your freedom. While at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in the mid-1990s, Boissonnault made sure to leave campus on Thursdays nights. This was the night the queer group on campus met, and Boissonnault, in the closet at the time, wanted to keep his distance. “I thought if I came out, I wouldn’t have any career prospects.”[29] If you want as poster boys for your movement what Gentile and Kinsman have dubbed “neoliberal queers,” look no further.[30]

Put another way, homonationalism is more than a set of political effects; it also constructs compatible queer subjectivities. Coincident with the rise of homonational politics has been the appearance of homonormative subjects, notably the respectable same-sex couple: married, monogamous, age-appropriate, and ensconced in a private/domestic sphere sexually cordoned off to exclude all others.[31] In a certain way, the respectable same-sex couple is the latter-day realization of Pierre Trudeau’s vision for homosexuality: homosexual acts performed by two, and no more than two, consenting adults in the privacy of their bedroom.

This respectable same-sex couple is everywhere present in the gay apology campaign. We need look at just one journalistic feature on the apology to find several examples. In the piece, one woman, dismissed from the Canadian Forces, is described this way: “She got married in April and along with her wife … is raising a daughter … The couple is expecting a second child in November.” About one man, also dismissed from the Forces, it is noted that “He’s been in a loving relationship for almost 12 years.”[32] What does current relationship and reproductive status have to do with having been purged from the military and making a claim upon the state for damages? On one level, nothing of course. On another level, it provides the happy ending to a story that began as trauma. “Were some people so traumatized by being hounded out of their job that they have never fully recovered,?” asks one report, which goes on to state that “some became depressed, some developed addictions, some committed suicide.”[33]

I don’t want in any way to discount the real harm experienced by people. But I do want to note two things. First, the discourse of trauma roots these people and their claims, not in a queer right to a workplace free from discrimination and harassment, but in the reigning neoliberal rhetoric of therapeutics, one which obscures systemic problems by reducing them to individual pathologies and remedies. Second, the repetition of these redemption narratives, from brokenness to wholeness via the reparative power of gay marriage and family life, helps to establish their homonormality, thereby making them, perhaps especially in the view of straight society, all the worthier of apology.

The narrative from harm to happily married also signals the place of emotion in the gay apology campaign. Egale’s Helen Kennedy described Trudeau’s announcement that he would say sorry as “a very emotional moment.” Boissonnault has said, “I’ve held people’s hands as they cry and tell me what it was like to be purged.”[34] But the tears often flow in what, from a certain perspective, might be described as moments of mixed emotions. “The only thing I ever wanted was to serve my country,” explains one woman, who was let go from the military for being a lesbian. She rebuilt her life with a partner of twenty-five years and “we were blessed with a son who is now 27,” but still “I have a hard time listening to the National Anthem without crying.” She is not alone in being triggered by the national anthem. “It took me a long time before I regained my pride in Canada,” one man tells us, “It probably took me 20 years before I was able to sing the words to ‘O Canada.’” My point in offering these examples is not to single out individuals. It is to indicate a structure of feeling under homonationalism and to suggest that this emotion, this “true patriot love,” sends queer citizens harmed by the state right back into its arms. As the woman just quoted put it, “Oddly enough, if I had the opportunity to serve again, I’d do it in a heartbeat!” Another woman, even after being fired from the military, said she “has never regretted signing up to serve her country.”[35] Queer citizens may be caught in a bad romance with the state, but they’re not just pining away, waiting for the nation’s love; the state sends its seducers right into the heart of the queer nation.


The gay apology highlights the increasingly deep imbrication between queer politics and the liberal state. Before offering a few examples of this process, we should note that the characterization of the state and many of the other players in the gay apology as liberal is not a mere abstraction of political theory. It positively leaps out of the sources. The government’s hashtag for LGBTQ issues is #freetobeme; it’s hard to imagine a pithier expression for queer liberalism.

For its part, early in the gay apology campaign, in an article on the government’s plan to “pardon men imprisoned for being gay,” the Globe elected to reprint its 1967 editorial on then-justice minister Pierre Trudeau’s proposed criminal law reforms. The editorial quoted from no less an authority than John Stuart Mill in “On Liberty,” using it to argue that the state’s responsibility is to legislate rules for a well-ordered society, but beyond that “it has no right or duty to creep into the bedrooms of the nation.” The Globe is quick to point out its editorial supplied Trudeau with one of his most famous lines. But the paper’s sifting through its past is selective indeed. For many years prior to and for a full two years following that 1967 editorial, the Globe’s internal classification system and clippings file on homosexuality read “SEE: SEX PERVERTS.”[36]

How, then, does the gay apology help to secure liberal hegemony? The federal government is using the apology to burnish its reputation as the guarantor of those fundamental liberal values of human rights, equality, and diversity. Barely a press release or news story on the gay apology goes by without the government trotting out these talking points. In February 2016, the government proclaimed: “As Canadians, we know that protecting and promoting fundamental human rights must be an imperative for governments and individuals alike – and this includes gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation … Canadians know our country is made stronger because of our diversity, not in spite of it.” In August 2016, the Prime Minister’s press secretary said, “We have committed to working with Egale and other groups on an ongoing basis to bring an end to discrimination and further guarantee equality for all citizens.”[37] Egale returns the favour, its report taking up the language of L/liberalism to name and describe its project, from its title to the full-page excerpt from Trudeau’s 1968 speech on “The Just Society.” Indeed, Trudeau, described as forward-thinking and visionary, emerges as one of the report’s main heroes. And not just Trudeau. We also learn that “Comprehensive apologies and inclusive pardons would cement Canada’s leadership in international human rights, and revive the golden age of Canadian diplomacy led by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957.”[38] Why the gay apology, as pitched by a queer organization, should be involved in reviving a supposed golden age of Pearsonian diplomacy entirely escapes me. But the alignment of mutual interests is plain to see. Another press release from the PMO states: “The government of Canada welcomed [the Egale] report, supports the values, principles and objectives it espouses, and will work with Egale and other partners to take action against the discrimination the report describes.”[39] Here we have a Liberal government claiming to support the values of a queer group, while that group’s report can be read as a love letter to the Liberal Party.

The campaign to woo queer citizens is not restricted to the PMO. Other arms of the state have been conscripted for the cause. In August 2016, CSIS participated for the first time in the Ottawa Pride parade, the director of the security service explaining that “CSIS recognizes the value of diversity in our workplace” and that by “participating in today’s parade, CSIS shows its commitment to the tolerance, inclusiveness, and respect for the sexual diversity of our employees, who work for the protection of Canada’s national security and the safety of Canadians.”[40] More recently, much has been made of Canada’s top soldier, Gen. Jonathan Vance, joining Justin in the Ottawa Pride parade this past August, complete with the Canadian Forces brass band playing Abba’s “Dancing Queen.” As Vance awkwardly explained, “For me, being here today is a sign of solidarity and leadership for people of the armed forces who are of this community” (by which, I believe, he meant queer service people). In the midst of the apology campaign (and lawsuit) to get the military to own up to its history of firing service people for being queer, Vance wanted to reassure queer people that “the armed forces is a great place to work and a welcoming environment.” He suggested that his presence among the LGBTQ community was important, for “it binds the armed forces more closely to the country.”[41] Presumably it also binds the queer nation more closely to the armed forces, yet another moment in the making of both homonationalism and hegemony.[42]

The confluence of homonationalism and liberal hegemony also comes to the fore in the foreign relations file. The apology is frequently coupled with other initiatives, such as the recent federal legislation to protect transgender people, as indications of Canada’s position at the forefront of progressive nations. In a speech to the House of Commons in June of this year, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland rededicated Canada as a defender of “the international liberal order,” a key component of which includes “our role to set a standard for how states should treat women, gays and lesbians, [and] transgendered [sic] people.” Two days later Canada became co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition, a global network of LGBTQ-friendly states.[43] How long before a nation’s apology to its queer citizens becomes the standard for membership in the new homo-international liberal order, a league of nations whose professed repentance for doing queer harm supposedly sets them apart from less-inclusive countries beyond the pale of liberalism?

Boissonnault, seemingly more sensitive than his colleague to the critique of homonationalism, has said about Canada on the international scene, “We can’t simply come in waving the rainbow flag and say, ‘This is how you should do things here.’”[44] Several months later, however, in a speech during Montreal Pride in August 2017, Boissonnault hailed Canada’s “work overseas …lobbying other governments to be more open.” He explained that such work is not only a “moral requirement” but also an “economic imperative,” segueing back to Canada and “how companies can create more inclusive workplaces.” Boissonnault told his audience that “Creating a progressive workplace is crucial not just in advancing social justice – but also in generating economic growth. We have seen time and time again that diverse inclusive workforces are more productive and more innovative … [M]any major corporations in Canada and elsewhere are embracing this reality. They recognize that respect for LGBTQ2 employees is good for everyone.”[45] Boissonnault manages to condense in just a few sentences queer politics in our time, capturing the entanglement of queer aspirations (social justice), liberal pieties (diversity, inclusivity), homo-internationalism (work abroad), and neoliberalism (economic growth, productivity, innovation), all seamlessly packaged as self-evidently “good for everyone.” Successfully articulating the specific interests of a dominant group as “good for everyone” is, I believe, one definition of hegemony, and covering up the naked pursuit of economic growth and productivity in the flattering garb of queer social justice is one of the tricks of neoliberalism.

At this point, one might well ask, what’s the problem with any of this? From my perspective, the problem is how the gay apology serves to bind, to use General Vance’s apt word, queer citizens to the project of liberal hegemony and all that entails – nationalism, militarism, neoliberalism, etc.

Let me give an example. When the government apologizes, it will be recognizing and repenting for the excesses of the state in the treatment of one of its minorities but not fundamentally calling into question the state practices that made such treatment possible in the first place. In the case of the civil service purges, for instance, we know the state relied on spies and hired informants along with all manner of other odious practices, such as the infamous Fruit Machine. But the apology will not entail a serious reconsideration of state surveillance and security practices. Rather, the goal is to offer an apology and have it accepted so that queer citizens’ national loyalty can be re-secured and their inclusion within the nation restored. This is how hegemony works. Meanwhile, the apparatus of the security state, left untouched by the gay apology, can be trained on other minority or dissident groups, such as Muslims and Arabs, including queer-identified people in both groups,[46] or left-leaning Canadians of any sexual persuasion.[47]

Neither does the queer demand for an apology, that the state assume responsibility for its historical injustice and commit to ensuring it never happens again, tackle in any significant way the state’s practices. It can’t, really; what would the meaning of an apology be coming from a state whose legitimacy has been seriously called into question? “I just want to hear them say they’re sorry” is the frequent refrain in the gay apology narrative. Not exactly a rallying cry for a counter-hegemonic offensive. In this way, the gay apology remains caught in a hegemonic trap. To take a different example, the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, in its “Pink Agenda,” lays out a rather radical program, insisting that “Canada must work to end homonationalism” and calling for decolonization and the dismantling of settler colonialism. But the Centre’s firm support for the gay apology, set out in a different document, doesn’t address the apology’s role in reflecting and reproducing some of the very structures the Centre would like to see end.[48]

Are there are other ways to resist the liberal state’s efforts to incorporate, by apologizing to, queer people? Just because an apology is offered doesn’t mean it has to be accepted. This was the strategy adopted by Black Lives Matter in their protest against the June 2016 Toronto Police apology, which was not an apology at all but an expression of regret, for the 1981 bathhouse raids. In light of a host of unresolved issues between the police and the city’s black communities, including black queer and trans people, BLM-TO disrupted the police press conference with signs that read: “Apology Not Accepted.”[49] The manifestation of an intersectional form of black-queer politics, BLM-TO refused an apology for an issue about ‘sexuality’ (the bath raids) when no apologies were forthcoming for issues related to ‘race’ (carding, the police shooting of black people, etc.). When a week later they brought the Toronto Pride parade to a standstill, interweaving the issues of sexuality and racism, BLM-TO once again ignited the traditions of queer direct action. BLM-TO’s rejection of the police apology was on point and prescient. The Toronto Police, a mere five months after their regret for the bathhouse raids, cracked down on queer public sex in Marie Curtis Park in an undercover operation that resulted in charges against seventy people. Do we need any more proof that an apology doesn’t necessarily mean a change in practice? While sorry seems to be the easiest word, its utterance can prove empty indeed.


With that as some political context and critique, I want to now to turn to the historical. What is the status of ‘history’ in the gay apology?

There seems to be widespread agreement that the apology itself will be the stuff of momentous history. The apology will “represent one of the greatest advances for sexual minorities in Canada’s history”; “The reforms that the Liberal government plans to enact over the coming months and years are among the greatest advances for sexual minorities in this country’s history, and place Canada at the forefront of countries addressing this issue.”[50]

But the actual place of ‘history’ in the gay apology is more ambiguous. On the one hand, history is absolutely integral. It is the grounds and justification for apology. On the other hand, an impatience with the past seems paradoxically to surround apologies for historical injustice. As Boissonnault put it, “We have to address the wrongs of the past, because they are real and substantive. But we also have to pay attention to how do we build going forward.”[51] We are asked to get over and on with it before the ink on the apology is even dry. To take a different example, when in August 2017 the city of Montreal and its police force apologized to the LGBTQ community of that city for the long history of police raids of queer bars and parties, former mayor Denis Coderre said they were eager “to put forward this public apology today because we want to turn the page.”[52]

Even the JSR, which also sees the past with an eye to the future (“We must pay homage to the past while we look to the future.”), is all for “banishing these crimes to the history books.” In its discussion of the yet-to-be-determined process of expunging criminal records, the JSR recommends “a comprehensive erasing,” a process that “erases all record of a conviction,” deleting it from all databases and ensuring that “expunged convictions do not have to be disclosed in any context.” [53] The We Demand an Apology Network, referring to the documentation amassed “on thousands of Canadians relating to the purge campaign,” demands the government ensure “these documents will be expunged to protect the lives of past, current and future people living in Canada.” The Network further demands that those “who were purged or put under surveillance … must have the option of viewing these records, for closure, prior to these personal records being destroyed.”[54]

Obviously, the intent is to prevent the textual or electronic traces of an expunged record from having any future negative impact on a person. But many expungements will have to rely on the archival record of criminal convictions. Surely the JSR and the Network do not support the erasing, deleting, or destroying of archival documents, which, moreover, must be disclosed to researchers if the details of police and legal persecution are to make it into the history books. Ditto for the “integration of historical material into the curriculum at all levels,” one of the JSR’s recommendations to “memorialize the historical injustice.”[55] One of the primary benefits for the state of an apology is that once a shameful past is acknowledged and apologized for, that past is banished or erased, the page is turned, and we are enjoined to look to the future and move forward. When is the last time you heard the government say anything substantive about the Japanese internment or the Chinese head tax, two communities that received national apologies in 1988 and 2006, respectively? Deleting databases or destroying historical documents will only make forgetting this past that much easier.

One way to counter the wilful forgetting that seems to follow in the wake of apology is to use the apology process to collect and preserve new evidence. The JSR urges “an initiative to record personal stories of injustice for posterity,” while Boissonnault has insisted “these stories have to be told and become part of the official record.”[56] What concrete plans does Boissonnault have to encourage and collect stories? One of his advisory council’s functions is supposed to be to facilitate “dialogue with those affected by past wrongs.”[57] For all the talk about dialogue with those affected by past wrongs, the council has no representation from anyone directly affected by the government’s past actions. Boissonnault’s office has been in existence for one year now. How many stories has he collected, and what will the incentive be to gather further stories after the apology is delivered?

Boissonnault maintains this is “our community’s truth and reconciliation opportunity for people to speak their truth.”[58] The analogy with the TRC is instructive considering the recent Supreme Court decision allowing for the potential destruction of 38,000 accounts of residential school survivors, an invaluable historical record generated by the TRC. If the apology process does manage to collect accounts from people who experienced the government’s anti-queer purges, what will be their fate after the apology? Will they become part of the official record or will they be destroyed because of a promise of confidentiality? Whether we’re talking about historical documents or recent accounts, there are ways of preserving records at the same time as protecting privacy.[59]

One of the demands the gay apology campaign should make of the government is for generous financial and other resources to facilitate further queer historical research. The We Demand an Apology Network has long included among its demands the release of all historical government documents related to the civil service and military purges. This should be followed by funding for queer community-based archives and history projects, which are in the best position to place this history in the hands of those who need it most. There should also be funding for government archives to arrange, describe, and make available their huge backlogs of unprocessed historical court records. Which brings me finally to the archival court documents of sexual offences between men in which I’ve spent many years researching and which are at the center of the gay apology.

Over the course of the ongoing campaign for the gay apology, I have been continually struck by the disjuncture between the public discussion of the historical records upon which the apology so heavily rests – their extent and content – and what I know to be in them. The idea of federal bureaucrats with little or, more likely, no historical training attempting to search for and interpret old court documents is a little frightening. For example, in the behind-the-scenes work conducted by federal bureaucrats since the government announced its intention to conduct a review of historical records, one internal memorandum obtained through access-to-information indicates that the oldest case they’ve been able to locate is from October 1939.[60] 1939? How is this possible when buggery entered Canadian law in 1859 and gross indecency in 1890?

Bureaucrats are reaching for what’s closest to hand – easily searchable but temporally limited police databases – and not the hundreds of boxes of unprocessed court records held in provincial archives. In my own research through those boxes, I’ve turned up close to 400 cases, involving nearly 800 men, and this just for the period 1880-1940, and for Ontario alone. The challenges presented by these records are numerous and varied. Records from many jurisdictions and/or levels of court have not survived. What if you want a pardon but the record of your conviction no longer exists? Of those that did survive, many are fragmentary and incomplete. Many contain nothing more than names, dates, and the decision. In many instances, there are no depositions or trial transcripts to reveal the details of the case. Without details, how will we know whether a pardon or expungement is merited?

In the surviving records for which sufficient details exists, who do we find in the court documents? Is it someone who led an otherwise exemplary life save for the misfortune of getting caught up in the state’s draconian anti-queer apparatus? Sometimes, and I suspect it is this otherwise respectable homosexual most Canadians imagine Justin will be apologizing to on their behalf. But this character doesn’t often surface in the court records precisely because he lived a careful, discreet life, never coming to the attention of the police and the law and thus not turning up in the historical records. What, then, do we discover in the court documents? In his comments to the press on the nature of the historical cases, Kinsman has suggested that “the vast majority of those were consensual in character.”[61] True, many were, but I fear this doesn’t paint a complete picture.

In my research, I discovered men who used their physical strength to force themselves upon others, often young boys. There were men who used the allure of their bodies and the promise of sex to entice other men whom they then robbed and/or beat up. There were cases in which men used their positions of power within institutions, from schools to churches and the Children’s Aid Society, to gain sexual access to male youth. Turning those tables, some boys and male youth traded sexual favours with adult men in exchange for money, admission to the theatre, or a hockey stick. A good many cases involved so-called public sex in parks, laneways, and lavatories, which often involved more than two men.[62] In short, we find in the court records almost the mirror opposite of Pierre’s two consenting adults in the privacy of their bedroom: in place of consent, there was coercion; along with adults, there were many boys and male youth; in addition to couples, there was group sex; in place of privacy, sex often occurred in public.

What is often referred to in discussions of the gay apology as the “obstacles” thrown up by the historical record turns out to be more like an interpretive brick wall. All the players in the apology campaign are rightly careful to make clear there can’t be apologies or pardons for men whose sexual encounters involved violence and/or minors. However, there has been next to no sustained consideration given to if, and how, these distinctions can be teased out of the historical sources. Given the nature of the legal contest, sexual encounters that may in fact have been consensual were presented in court as something else; similarly, sexual encounters that involved coercion were presented as having involved consent. Because gross indecency criminalized all sexual relations between male persons, whether in public or private, regardless of the ages of those involved or the circumstances of the sexual encounter, it was very common for both parties to be punished. So in a case that involved an adult man who used his position within an institution to facilitate sex with a male youth, the youth was not regarded as a victim but as what the law termed an “accomplice” to sexual crime, and many were sent to reformatories and training schools. Keeping in mind this was a period before the law drew distinctions about the misuse of positions of trust and authority, are we apologizing to both the man and youth? In cases involving coercion or violence, both victim and aggressor were often sent to jail. Are we apologizing to both? The methodological and interpretive challenges presented by the court records make it nearly impossible to reveal ‘the truth’ of individual cases. On this score, I can concur with Kinsman, who, in the same report quoted above, also noted that in many instances “you’re not going to be able to find out the exact character of what took place.” And yet the review of the historical record for the purpose of pardons or expungement relies on the review of individual cases. Good luck with that.

An equally formidable challenge posed by the historical documents hovers over the ‘gay’ in the gay apology, that is, over the question of identity. Gross indecency and buggery did not criminalize sexual identities, they criminalized sexual acts. Buggery, for instance, not only included sex between men but also anal sex between men and women, and sex between humans and animals.

Over three decades of queer historiography has insisted that many, if not most, men who engaged in sexual relations with other men in the 19th and for much of the 20th century did not adopt a gay or homosexual identity. In public discussions of the gay apology, the crucial distinction between same-sex acts and homosexual/gay and other identities is insufficiently elaborated, its conceptual confusion often evident even in a single sentence. Take just one example: Prime Minister Trudeau “should pardon thousands of gay men who were convicted of gross indecency before homosexual acts were decriminalized in 1969. Their only crime was being who they were.”[63] We go from sexual identity (gay men) to a criminal code category (gross indecency) to sexual acts (homosexual acts) and back to identity (being who they were). The JSR, despite its admirable effort to formulate an “open-textured and inclusive” apology based on a wide range of identities, including Indigenous two-spirit people and other forms of gender diversity, still falls back on the homogenizing and ahistorical use of ‘gay,’ as in “19th century gay life.”[64]

This is more than mere semantics. It’s about presuming to know the sexual subjectivities of historical actors, of somehow having access to a magical methodology that will force these often frustratingly fragmentary records to give up their sexual secrets. After nearly thirty years of immersion in these historical records, I’m still uncertain about what, if anything, they can reveal about gay or homosexual identity, other than to say many men did not have one. What does it mean, then, when discussions of the gay apology confidently assert and project back in time “persecuted gay Canadians” or the “past persecution of homosexuals?”[65] For much of the pre-1969 period the very subject to whom the gay apology is addressed is MIA.

There is some acknowledgement that the review of individual records or a blanket pardon would be riddled with problems.[66] But what about the blanket apology? When Justin stands up in the House of Commons to deliver the apology, at least the part of it pertaining to men convicted prior to 1969, is he going to take us through all these historical distinctions? He will likely refer to “consensual homosexual relations,” but as I’ve just indicated, this is easier said than demonstrated.

And this is only one problem. In apologizing for the prosecution of buggery charges, will the gay apology include the ‘straight’ men and women who had a taste for anal sex? What about the far more numerous horses, cows, and pigs that turn up in the buggery indictments? Are the records of these men and their four-legged friends being expunged, and are they covered by the prime minister’s apology? I assume this is not the intention, but given the misplaced historical equation between buggery and male homosexuality throughout the apology campaign, it is a possibility.

There are many other considerations. Are most straight Canadians prepared to apologize to, for instance, the men engaged in a group masturbation scene in the dank, stinking toilet underground in Union Station, or to the mild-mannered Boy Scout leader who penciled on a piece of birch bark a love note to the young object of his affection? Are queer people themselves ready to really reckon with the queer past, warts and all? I fear not, which brings me to the one word in the gay apology campaign that sticks most in my craw: “rehabilitation.”

The JSR takes its inspiration from and refers to its goal as akin to “the Truth and Rehabilitation Report of Senator Sinclair,” a reference of course to the chair of the TRC.[67] I am not aware of any report by the TRC that goes by the name “rehabilitation.” The actual TRC term is, of course, reconciliation. It’s a curious slippage. Rehabilitation has legal or quasi-legal meanings: the action of restoring former privileges or reputation after a period of disfavour, or preparing someone for re-entry into society after a period of imprisonment. But it can also mean more generally to restore a person to health or normal life, and it is this normalizing aspect of rehabilitation that bothers me. Before the queer past can be presented before the nation to accept its apology, it must be rehabilitated and normalized. We can see it at work in the case of Everett Klippert.

In his first profile of Klippert, Ibbitson begins by acknowledging that Klippert was “no saint.” In the early 1960s, Klippert lived in Calgary and worked as a bus driver. We learn that “he hooked up with teenagers … He would offer a couple of bucks for the hand jobs there were, typically, all that were offered.” We further learn that Klippert liked to hang around “boxing and wrestling matches, and visited local swimming pools. He also allowed young men on his bus for free, and even slipped them a $2 bill now and then in exchange for their favours later on.” After release from his first time in prison for gross indecency, Klippert moved to Pine Point, NWT, where he got a job as a mechanic’s helper in Cominco’s lead-zinc mine. Klippert had a car “and younger guys loved to go for a ride in it. They’d find a remote road, have a beer and get to talking, and the talk would turn to sex” and Klippert eventually “would propose they masturbate together.”[68]

Now look what happens in the subsequent reports on Klippert’s case in the context of the gay apology. We’re told that Klippert’s only crime was that he “sought out men for sex”; that he spent time in prison “because he refused to stop having sex with men”; that he was sentenced to indefinite detention “for repeatedly having sex with other men.” Even by the end of Ibbitson’s initial piece Klippert has become “just a man who sought out other men for sex.”[69] Teenagers, the exchange of money, bus and car rides, and the rituals of homosexual seduction all disappear from the story.

Let me be clear: I am not trying to suggest Klippert was a pedophile or forced himself on his partners. There’s no evidence to suggest this. On the contrary, in a 1965 edition of the Pine Point miners’ newsletter, the writer of a section titled “From Under Tom’s Hat,” illustrated with a hand-drawn hardhat, wrote: “To Ev Klippert, for being nice and giving a guy a ride.”[70] In many ways, Klippert’s sexual life sounds remarkably similar to many of the cases from much earlier in the century that I discovered in my own research. However, the journalistic re-descriptions of Klippert’s “sex with men” obscure from view the distinctive moral economy of sexual relations between working-class men and male youth, one major component of the queer past.[71] Why does it disappear?

If at the start of Ibbitson’s profile Klippert is “no saint,” by the last paragraph he’s become “a great martyr.” In between, we learn that later in life Klippert married a woman (a reminder that ‘gay’ often fails to capture the changing nature of intimacy even over the course of one individual’s life, never mind over several centuries). He was surrounded by a loving family and while “his past was just something no one spoke of,” he “went on to live a perfectly happy life.” This narrative sounds suspiciously like the ones quoted earlier, in which a queer life destroyed by the Canadian state is made whole again through (in this instance, heterosexual) marriage and family. It’s been called the “long, bittersweet road to redemption,” the “rehabilitating [of] the reputation of Everett Klippert.”[72] How much of Klippert’s rehabilitation rests upon downplaying or not speaking of his earlier sexual life? How much does redemption depend upon distancing Klippert from the working-class world of same-sex relations in which young men and the exchange of sex for cash, car rides, and booze figured prominently?

Could something similar be done with other cases from the pre-1969 past? Could I cherry-pick my cases for those most easily massaged into a shape befitting apology while leaving the ‘undeserving’ to moulder in the archives? Probably.

But I am not interested in rehabilitating the queer past. It is historically problematic and, for me, politically unpalatable. Klippert, who took a pass when gay activists asked him to tell his story and refused invitations to participate in Pride parades, did not ask to be rehabilitated or redeemed by the gay movement. His surviving family seems pleased enough by the rehabilitation, but I wonder about Klippert. In 2001, Klippert’s widow remarked, “I don’t think it’s right to bring up the past when you have no concrete way of knowing how he felt about it.”[73] Her comment goes straight to the ethical heart of the historical matter. We have no concrete way of knowing whether any of the nearly 800 men who turned up in my research would wish to be rehabilitated by journalists, lawyers, or historians and apologized to by prime ministers. And yet, like it or not, rehabilitation and apology are on their way.

Politically, the rehabilitation of the queer past seems like the historical equivalent of present-day calls by gay business owners and associations to purge queer neighbourhoods of street people and sex workers. It’s a clean-up operation, a sweep of the past – dressing it up and making it look respectable for its appearance on the national stage of apology. It’s been many years now since Gayle Rubin warned against devising queer political strategies that expand the charmed circle for a few while those on the outer limits, the most marginalized and stigmatized in our communities, are left holding the bag.[74]

How will the charmed circle be drawn in the context of the gay apology? For the JSR, apologies and pardons should be extended to queer people if the activities they were penalized for engaging in were legal for heterosexual people at the time. It is a rather blunt application of heteronormative definitions and standards of sexual behaviour onto the queer past and its distinctive sexual cultures. It means the outsiders will include the usual queer suspects: those who engaged in intergenerational relationships; those who exchanged sex for money or perks; those who had sex in public; young people, regardless of their age, who searched for sex.

Just as the Canadian state once believed it was necessary to purge the government of queer people, it is now necessary for the government to purge, by apologizing for, the historical record of its past practices. How else to maintain its present image, which is to say its political future, as protector of minority rights, diversity, and an inclusive Canada? And here is where the government and gay agenda conveniently overlap, for a homonational politics predicated upon the respectable, nation-loving, and law-abiding queer citizen/couple needs to distance itself from the historical equation between homosexuality and criminality, from the taint of perversion.

But what remains of the queer when divorced from its historical associations with sexual outlawry? What if the only way queer is capable of disrupting liberal inclusion and hegemonic incorporation is by remaining that which is unforgivable? This is in part what I take theorist John Paul Ricco to mean when he writes, “if queers forgive the State of its violence and negligence, is this not at the same time the abdication of the future possibility of acting in ways that are unforgivable?”[75] Who will decide, post-apology, which queer ways of acting are unforgivable? The heteronormative state? The homonormative couple?

In place of an “ethics of apology” Ricco offers a “queer erotic ethos.” Apology, Ricco argues, will always remain “the liberal ethics of a restricted economy of exchange and reciprocity, of means and ends—including the normative and normalizing desire for closure, for finality, that is believed to come from forgiveness in the wake of apology” – a closure necessary to facilitate what we’ve heard described as “turning the page” and “going forward,” anything but dwelling on the past. So long as it includes a distinction between the consensual and coercive, so necessary if interpretively difficult, then a queer erotic ethos has much to recommend it, not least of which is that, unlike liberal apologies, a queer erotic ethos does not preclude an ongoing engagement with the past.

What Ricco also calls an “unmistakeably queer” “erotic excess” that “transcends norm and law” has its historical analogue. The evidence of it, as I’ve only hinted at here, litters the archive. The lesbian poet Brenda Brooks, in a poem that refuses apology’s erasure of the past and its insistence on finality, captures it this way:

Be assured of this – though they insist
later that we never lived here – be assured
that all about will be the stubborn clutter,
the undeniable record, the burning, wilful
evidence speaking you and me into eternity.[76]

No amount of apologizing, pardoning, expunging, or rehabilitating is ever going to change that.

Steven Maynard is a historian with a long history as a queer activist. He lives in Kingston, where he teaches the history of sexuality at Queen’s University.

[1]Prime Minister announces intention to introduce legislation to address historical injustices faced by LGBTQ2 communities,” 14 June 2017 (accessed 12 November 2017). For sharing their thoughts on the gay apology, thereby helping me to better formulate my own, I’d like to thank Amy Gottlieb, Ed Jackson, Gary Kinsman, and Tim McCaskell. My appreciation to Markus Dubber for the invitation to participate in “The Ethics of Apology: Interdisciplinary and International Perspectives,” Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto, October 2017. I’d also like to thank the other workshop participants, especially John Paul Ricco. For their enthusiastic response to co-publishing this paper on, my thanks to Daniel Ross and Thomas Peace.

[2] See, for example, Lawrence Martin, “Liberals face powder keg with gay apology,” Globe and Mail, 19 April 2016.

[3] House of Commons, 27 April 1992, Debates, 34th Parliament, 3rd Session, Vol. 8, p. 9713.

[4] Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile, “In the Interests of the State”: The Anti-Gay, Anti-Lesbian National Security Campaigns in Canada – A Research Report (Sudbury: Laurentian University, 1998).

[5] John Ibbitson, “Justin Trudeau to apologize for historic persecution of gay Canadians,” Globe and Mail, 11 Aug 2016.

[6] See, for example, Tim McCaskell, Queer Progress: From Homophobia to Homonationalism (Toronto: BTL, 2016).

[7] Matt Houlbrook, “Pardoning Alan Turing might be good politics, but it’s certainly bad history,” The Trickster Prince (accessed 6 November 2017); Justin Bengry, “Why I Oppose a General Pardon for Historical Convictions for Homosexual Offences,” Notches: (re)marks on the history of sexuality (accessed 6 November 2017); Claire Hayward, “Gross indecency petition: pardoning the past,” Exploring Public Histories (accessed 6 November 2017); Justin Bengry, “Conservative ‘gay pardon’ for the dead is a strategic distraction that harms the living,” Historians’ Watch (accessed 6 November 2017).

[8] John Ibbitson, “Ottawa behind schedule in redressing past persecution of homosexuals,’ Globe and Mail, 12 October 2016; Ibbitson, “Trudeau lags on LGBT pardons,” Globe and Mail, 24 March 2017. One report noted that Egale “had hoped Canada could be a world leader on the issue of recognizing past wrongs committed against the LGBT community, but other countries, notably Germany, the UK and states in Australia, are now far ahead,” quoted in “Ottawa to formally apologize to LGBT community for past wrongs. Critics say apology to public servants, RCMP officers, military members fired for sexuality comes too late,” CBC News, 17 May 2017 (accessed 12 November 2017).

[9] While this paper is a critique of the gay apology, nothing in what follows should be construed as an argument against pardons and compensation for those still living and who stand to benefit from reparations, such as the restoration of lost pensions, damages for loss of livelihood, lifting of restrictions on travel, etc.

[10] Disrupting Queer Inclusion: Canadian Homonationalisms and the Politics of Belonging, ed., OmiSoore Dryden and Suzanne Lenon (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2015).

[11] “Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage,” in Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion, ed., Ryan Conrad (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2014).

[12] The Just Society Report (Ottawa: Egale, 2016), 11 and 85. It should be noted that one of the Report’s lead authors is also one of the lead lawyers in the class action.

[13] John Ibbitson, “In 1965, Everett Klippert was sentenced to a life behind bars. His crime? Being gay,” Globe and Mail, 27 February 2016; Ibbitson, “Gay-pardon decision applauded but still faces obstacles,” 29 February 2016; “The day Ottawa got out of our bedrooms,” 1 March 2016.

[14] Cyril Greenland, “Dangerous Sexual Offenders in Canada,” Canadian Journal of Criminology and Corrections 14, 1 (1972): 44-54.

[15] “Justin Trudeau to apologize for historic persecution of gay Canadians,” Globe and Mail, 11 August 2016.

[16] Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile, The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010).

[17] Globe and Mail, 11 August 2016.

[18] Globe and Mail, 29 February 2016.

[19] The Just Society Report, 8 and 9.

[20] Quoted in McCaskell, Queer Progress, 449.

[21] Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, “Addressing the History of Discrimination by the Government of Canada Against LGBTQ2S+ Persons” (accessed 11 November 2017).

[22] Thanks to Gary Kinsman for drawing this important point to my attention. The Network’s report, “The We Demand an Apology Network submission on the urgent need for an official state apology and redress for those affected by the anti-gay/anti-lesbian purges in the public service and the military,” can be found as an appendix in the JSR.

[23] Ibbitson, “Ottawa moves on plans for apology to those wronged over sexuality,” Globe and Mail, 14 November 2016. Never missing the chance to blow its own horn, the Globe noted that the “government created this one-person task force in response to a series of articles by The Globe and Mail that examined past injustices to members of sexual minorities in Canada, which led to a report by Egale.” Ibbitson, “Edmonton MP to lead efforts to redress wrongs against sexual minorities,” Globe and Mail, 15 November 2016.

[24] See “Apology for discrimination faced by LGBTQ2 individuals, their families, and communities in Canada” (accessed 5 November 2017).

[25] Andrea Houston and Justin Stayshyn, “The 519: Post-G20 standoff should never have happened,” Daily Xtra, 2 November 2010 (accessed 14 November 2017).

[26] See: “New Advisory Council to help Government of Canada develop an apology for injustices faced by LGBTQ2 communities” (accessed 7 November 2017).

[27] See: (accessed 5 November 2017).

[28] Berry Hertz, “Being John Ibbitson,” Ryerson Review of Journalism, 1 August 2006.

[29] Globe and Mail, 15 November 2016; ; Joanna Smith, “Randy Boissonnault, Trudeau’s LGBTQ2 Advisor, Lauds Canada’s ‘Amazing’ Progress,” HuffPost, 18 April 2017.

[30] Gentile and Kinsman, “National Security and Homonationalism: The QuAIA Wars and the Making of the Neoliberal Queer,” in Disrupting Queer Inclusion, 133-49.

[31] Mariana Valverde, “A New Entity in the History of Sexuality: The Respectable Same-sex Couple,” in Queerly Canadian: An Introductory Reader in Sexuality Studies (Toronto: CSP, 2012).

[32] Ryan Maloney, “LGBT Canadians Purged from Military and Public Service Await Overdue Apology,” HuffPost, 17 September 2017.

[33] Michelle Siu, “For persecuted gay Canadians, a symbolic apology holds real meaning,” Globe and Mail, 13 August 2016.

[34] Globe and Mail, 11 August 2016. Boissonnault quoted in Arshy Mann, “The Canadian government will apologize to LGBT people. Now they’re trying to figure out how,” Daily Xtra, 26 September 2017.

[35] “Support Statements,” We Demand an Apology Network (accessed 5 November 2017); HuffPost, 17 September 2017.

[36] “The day Ottawa got out of our bedrooms,” Globe and Mail, 1 March 2016. Stephanie Chambers, “See: Sex Perverts,” in Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer, ed. Stephanie Chambers (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2017), 121-123.

[37] Globe and Mail, 27 February 2016; 11 August 2016.

[38] The Just Society Report, 111.

[39] John Ibbitson, “Ottawa moves on plans for apology to those wronged over sexuality,” Globe and Mail, 14 November 2016.

[40]CSIS participation in Ottawa Pride Parade,” CSIS News, press release, 21 August 2016 (accessed 7 November 2017).

[41] David Akin, “Canada’s top general makes history in joining Justin Trudeau at gay pride parade,” Global News, 27 August 2017 (accessed 11 November 2017).

[42] On queer nationalism, see Kinsman, “Challenging Canadian and Queer Nationalisms,” in In a Queer Country: Gay and Lesbian Studies in the Canadian Context, ed. Terry Goldie (Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2001), 209-234.

[43]Address by Minister Freeland on Canada’s Foreign Policy Priorities,” 6 June 2017. Graeme Reid, “Canada sets international example in LGBT rights,” Globe and Mail, 3 September 2017.

[44] Joanna Smith, “Randy Boissonnault, Trudeau’s LGBTQ2 Adviser, Lauds Canada’s ‘Amazing’ Progress,” HuffPost, 18 April 2017.

[45] Randy Boissonnault, “LGBTTIQA2S Lives: Our Struggles, Our Victories, Our Challenges” (accessed 7 November 2017).

[46] This is the subject of the concluding chapter, “From the Canadian War on Queers to the War on Terror,” in Kinsman and Gentile, The Canadian War on Queers, 429-458.

[47] On this history, see Gregory Kealey, Spying on Canadians: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Security Service and the Origins of the Long Cold War (Toronto: UTP, 2017).

[48] Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, “The Pink Agenda,” (accessed on 11 November 2017).

[49] On BLM, see Robyn Maynard, Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present (Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood, 2017).

[50] Globe and Mail, 11 August 2016 and 13 August 2016.

[51] Globe and Mail, 15 November 2016.

[52]‘A long time coming’: Montreal apologizes for past police raids targeting LGBT community,” CBC News, (accessed 7 November 2017).

[53] The Just Society Report, 107, 65, 107, 106, 107.

[54] Updated version of the Network’s “Points Needed in an Official, Public, State Apology,” 14 September 2017, supplied to me by Gary Kinsman.

[55] The Just Society Report, 107.

[56] The Just Society Report, 107; Globe and Mail, 15 November 2016.

[57]New Advisory Council to help Government of Canada develop an apology for injustices faced by LGBTQ2 communities” (accessed 18 November 2017).

[58] Globe and Mail, 15 November 2016.

[59] Archives are fully equipped to preserve these accounts at the same time as respecting any promise of confidentiality by, for example, sealing the documents for a specified length of time and/or allowing access to them only through research agreements that protect the privacy of individuals.

[60] Dylan Robertson, “Liberal government may not compensate men convicted under anti-gay laws, FOI suggests,” Daily Xtra, 3 November 2016.

[61] Patrick Cain, “6,000 Canadians would be covered by gay pardon decision,” Global News, 29 February 2016 (accessed 12 November 2017).

[62] Steven Maynard, “Through a Hole in the Lavatory Wall: Homosexual Subcultures, Police Surveillance, and the Dialectics of Discovery, Toronto, 1890-1930,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 5, 2 (October 1994): 207-42.

[63] John Ibbitson, “Transgender-rights bill a good first step; Trudeau wins praise for legislation tabled Tuesday, but also needs to examine two historic wrongs,” Globe and Mail, 18 May 2016.

[64] JSR, 98 and 22.

[65] Globe and Mail, 13 August 2016; 12 October 2016.

[66] “It may be practically impossible to conduct individual reviews of the files of the hundreds, or more likely thousands – no one really knows – of cases of gay men who were convicted of gross indecency or buggery … The records of those who have died would be in local courthouses or provincial archives. Many might have been thrown out; others would be incomplete. The obvious alternative would be a blanket pardon, although that might inadvertently include someone who used violence or who had sex with a minor.” Globe and Mail, 29 February 2016.

[67] The Just Society Report, 3.

[68] Ibbitson, Globe and Mail, 27 February 2016.

[69] Globe and Mail, 29 February 2016; 13 August 2016; 14 November 2016; 27 February 2016.

[70] See: (accessed 10 November 2017).

[71] Steven Maynard, “‘Horrible Temptations’: Sex, Men, and Working-Class Male Youth in Urban Ontario, 1890-1935,” Canadian Historical Review 78, 2 (June 1997).

[72] Ibbitson, Globe and Mail, 27 February 2016; 13 August 2016; 14 November 2016.

[73] See: (accessed 10 November 2017).

[74] Gayle Rubin, “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality,” first published in 1984, is reprinted in Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2011).

[75] John Paul Ricco, “On Queer Forgiveness” (accessed 7 November 2017).

[76] Brenda Brooks, “History,” in Somebody Should Kiss You (Charlottetown: Gynergy Press, 1990), 47.

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