Absolutely Manitoba Presents: One Gay City
One Gay City: A History of LGBT Life in Winnipeg sheds light on the community through personal stories, news reports and rarely-seen archival images and recordings. It's directed by local filmmaker Aaron Floresco.
"In many ways, the gay rights movement has created structures and rights for the most normative of gay people. For gay couples, for gay families, for middle-class gays. The challenge for us as a movement is not to forget our transgender aboriginal sisters, to not forget the full spectrum of queerness, and even in ways maybe we haven't considered yet, or we haven't acknowledged. We all deserve the same rights."
"I can remember the fear walking home and I would take crazy, all the dark streets home … to avoid being stopped by the police, because that was the fear in the gay community, that they would take you in. The morality squad would stop us every once in a while — 'What are you doing? What are you doing out at night? Where are you going? Haven't you got a home to go to?' That kind of thing. And every once in a while, 'Are you built like everybody else? Have you got private parts like other men?'"
"I went to high school in the '50s in West Kildonan Collegiate, which happened to be unusual. My friend Terry ran for snow queen in full drag and got elected as snow princess. I don't think they knew what to do with Terry at school, and because they couldn't figure out what to do with him, they — and this is just wonderful — they did nothing, which allowed Terry to be Terry. It wasn't an issue. It wasn't an issue with the teachers and you could be who you wanted to be. I'm aware of how totally unusual those circumstances were, but they were the circumstances and they made it easy for me to grow up."
Richard North: "Being openly gay, it wasn't easy for me. I was ashamed of it and so on, but I knew in my mind that it was the right thing to do and that these feelings of shame and inferiority weren't realistic. It was the culture that was unrealistic."
Chris Vogel: "Certainly the basis had been established through other movements, through the notion that it was up to young people like ourselves to do these things because otherwise they might not happen."
"I'll never forget the moment that I got elected, and the sense of impossibility. We stayed up until the first newspapers came out to see that we'd actually won the mayor's job, because I don't think I believed it until I actually saw it in print. When I got elected, I'll never forget all these police cars showed up; there had been so many death threats that we all had to move away from the windows in the campaign office, they covered them all and put brown paper up, and it was a moment of sitting in the darkness there thinking, 'Yeah, this is going to be a tough time.' You cannot live your life for the people who hate you and the things you're afraid of … too many people are intimidated by fear and intimidated by hatred."
An eye-opening documentary about the evolution of Winnipeg's LGBT community has its broadcast premiere on CBC TV in Manitoba this Saturday, July 4, 2015, at 7 p.m.