Winnipeg pride week: LGBT history in Manitoba

A Manitoba filmmaker combined archival footage from the University of Manitoba's Gay and Lesbian Archives with 20 modern interviews to put together a history of the LGBT community in the province.

'I learned ... how to imitate straight people': former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray

One Gay City: A History of LGBT Life in Winnipeg, is an hour-long documentary that debuted in the fall of 2014, documenting the community's push for equality. (One Gay City)

Until 1969, homosexuality was illegal in Canada and punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

People could be fired for being gay until 1987, when human rights legislation was introduced. 

Aaron Floresco, a Manitoba filmmaker, combined archival footage from the University of Manitoba's Gay and Lesbian Archives with 20 modern interviews, to reflect on the history of the LGBT community in the province to see how far the push for equality has come and how far there is left to go. 

His film, called One Gay City, debuted in fall 2014.

In the 50s and 60s, police harassment was rampant, Floresco said.

"So it was very much an underground kind of a lifestyle, if I can call it that. An underground existence," Floresco said. 

"The idea for people that I spoke with who were around at that time, the idea of gay marriage being something that would ever happen, just sort of seemed totally out there. And now that it's here, it's strange to think that it ever wasn't."

Floresco contrasts the archival footage with interviews with Manitoba artist, Shawna Dempsey and Winnipeg's first openly-gay mayor, Glen Murray.

"I learned in high school how to imitate straight people really well. I was really good at playing the straight guy when I had to to survive. You get tired of getting beat up sometimes," Murray said in the film. 

The documentary is being screened on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Red River College's Roblin Centre. It will also be airing as a part of CBC's Absolutely Manitoba series this summer, airing July 4 at 7 p.m.


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