Sudbury

LGBT purge survivor tells of days where friends 'would just disappear'

A new documentary about employees in the public service who were “purged” from duty for their sexual orientation is being screened Thursday night at Laurentian University.

Documentary aims to shine a light on Canada's treatment of gays in the public service

Lynne Gouliquer, an associate professor in Laurentian’s Sociology Department, survived the purge during her time in the military, (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

A new documentary about employees in the public service who were "purged" from duty because of their sexual orientation is being screened Thursday night at Laurentian University.

"The Fruit Machine," directed by Sarah Fodey, takes its name from a device, funded by the Canadian government after the Cold War, to test people for homosexuality.

Homosexuals in the military, the RCMP or civil service were considered to be a security risk, as their lifestyle would make them susceptible to blackmail by Soviet spies.  

Lynne Gouliquer, an associate professor in Laurentian's Sociology department, survived the purge during her time in the military,

"There was a military law and they used that extensively," Gouliquer said. "The military carried on for years and it was legally sanctioned."

"There was an investigative unit within the military," she said. "They couldn't do their own investigations and did them on the side."

Gouliquer said she managed to stay out of the purge's scope.

"I never got pulled down but I lost many friends," she said. "We lived in fear back then that we would be called in."

"You could lose them overnight or it could take weeks or it could take a month or two…[it] could take years...they would be kicked out they'd just disappear."

"They just hopped on the train or they took a plane and they disappeared from your life."

Gouliquer said that interrogations during the purge were terrifying for interview subjects, as they were forced to give— sometimes in vivid detail—  intimate stories of their relationships.

"That was probably the worst part of it..the interrogations that these people went through," she said.

"They didn't stop the investigations. They wanted to break them down.  The most intimate details of their life. Their private life, and what you would do in the bedroom."

Gouliquer said by screening this documentary she hopes to shine a light on a time in Canadian history that often does not get discussed.

"I don't think Canadians really realize to what extent the Canadian government was carrying on a campaign behind the scenes and how much effect it had on these people," she said.

"Some of them got their lives quote-unquote back together again and have done very well," she said. "But that's a huge effect,  like losing your job and being told that you're not wanted, and you're not good and you're not welcome and that you're completely bad, that your sexuality is really deviant."

"The Fruit Machine" screens Thursday at 6:00 p.m. at the Fraser Auditorium.

To hear the full interview with Lynn Gouliquer, click the audio link below.

The LGBT Purge was a long and harmful campaign of discrimination by the Canadian government against the LGBT community. The CBC's Markus Schwabe spoke with Lynne Gouliquer. She's a Sudbury military veteran who experienced the Purge firsthand. She's featured in the documentary film The Fruit Machine. Gouliquer tells us about the documentary and reflects on her experience being Gay while in the military. 8:35