Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and it is time to remember the tremendous contribution the Canadian military has made to freedom here at home and freedom around the world.
It is also worthwhile to remember the many gay veterans who fought for Canada. Today, if you visit the new War Museum in Ottawa, you'll notice something quite strange -- and that is what was called the "fruit machine". It was designed during the Cold War to find homosexuals in the military and in the Government. Here's the entry from the Wikipedia encyclopedia:
The subjects were made to view pornography, and the device measured the pupils of the eyes, perspiration, and pulse for a supposed erotic response.Unfortunately, some 3,000 gays and lesbians lost their jobs and the ban on gays was not lifted unto 1992 - and then only by the Courts, not the politicians.
The fruit machine was employed in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s during a campaign to eliminate all homosexuals from the civil service, the RCMP, and the military. A substantial number of workers did lose their jobs. Although funding for the "fruit machine" project was cut off in the late 1960s, the investigations continued, and the RCMP collected files on over 9,000 suspected homosexuals. The chair was like one from a dentist's office. It had a pulley with a camera going towards the pupils. There was a black box in front of it that showed pictures. The pictures ranged from the mundane to sexually explicit photos of men and women. People were told the machine was to rate stress. After knowledge of its real purpose became widespread, few people volunteered for it.
One person who we need to remember - and who was destroyed needlessly - was Herbert Sutcliffe.
Sutcliffe was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire for bringing his troops back from behind enemy lines in Calais, France in 1944.
Sutcliffe returned to Canada in 1945 and graduated from the University of Toronto in History in 1950. By that time, Canada was involved in Korea and Sutcliffe went back into the permanent force and went to Korea. He was commissioned in 1950.
He then taught at the Canadian School of the Military from 1953 to 1957, and then was posted in Ottawa in 1957. In 1962, Sutcliffe went home with a civil servant whom the RCMP had already identified as a suspected homosexual, who was then pressured to give names.
Here's how Sutcliffe describes what happened next:
On the first of June 62, When I left my apartment, the movers were there packing everything to go to Washington. I had got the plum of army postings, the Pentagon. I drove to the office and was to have lunch at the officer's mess and then drive to Washington. When I got to the office someone said, "The colonel wants to see you." I went in to his office, and he was standing there and said: "You're not having a luncheon. You're not going to Washington. You'll be out of the army tomorrow. The RCMP have proved to us that you are a homosexual."Sutcliffe taught High School until he retired in 1979. After his retirement, Sutcliffe finally went 'public' about his sexuality - he was, afterall, living with his partner Ralph Wormleighton. Sutcliffe died in August of 2003.
It was just, pow, just like that. I was in shell-shock. The military was my life. I came home and the movers were still there and I said, "Take everything out of your truck and put it back in the apartment." When they left, I poured myself a drink. I went in the bedroom, I got a Luger out of the drawer and put a bullet in it. Came into the living room, put the gun on top of the television and thought, "No, I'm not going to let those bastards do it." So I put the gun away and I learned to live with it.
But, you know, "what do I tell my friends? What do I tell my family? None of them knew and I just agonized over these things and when I finally came home to Toronto, I told my brother-in-law and my sister [the true story]. They didn't really seem to react at all. I've always thought since then that they never put my arms around me and said "We love you anyway, don't worry." They just went on as if this was nothing at all and they had their work to do and not to bother them. You live through these things.
Then I got a job selling insurance -- something I never thought I would want. This one morning I go out and I visit all of the people from Victoria College of Music Club. I had been president of the music club when I was in university. So I went around and visited all of the members. One of the people I visited was a boy I went through Vic with, who was also ex-Army. And while I'm trying to sell him insurance, he says, "You know, I have a vacancy on my staff. Have you ever considered teaching history?" I said, "well, no I haven't" and he said, "Well, all right, go talk to the principal." So I talked to the principal then went back and resigned from the insurance company. I went to OCE, got my degree and started teaching in '63, a year after I had been thrown out of the army.
Let's take a minute to remember Herbert Sutcliffe.
Please also take time to visit some of the sites of my gay brothers and read how they remember our veterans.
Another Gay Republican
Cake or Death
North Dallas Thirty