Human rights struggles are continual, an ongoing process. In Canada, a certain social issue is continuing to improve and has improved greatly in the past 70 years.
Nowadays, Canadian society is much more accepting of the LGBTQ community than it has ever been. But not long ago, things were very different.
In a moving short documentary film, titled Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story, historian Kevin Allen of Fernie, B.C. dives into the history of a mysterious man who played a pivotal role in LGBTQ history.
Everett Klippert was a Calgary bus driver and he was also the last Canadian to be jailed for homosexuality.
Back in the 1950s and 60s, the charge given to those found guilty of homosexuality was gross indecency. If you were found guilty of this, often your charge, name, address and occupation would be printed in the local paper.
“Former Bus Driver Jailed Four Years For Indecency” read the title of the article in the March 23, 1960 edition of the Albertan. Despite moving from Calgary to the Northwest Territories, Klippert was labeled a menace to society.
What follows in the film is more discovery by Allen about who Klippert was, the struggles he endured and the lessons that his story teaches society, even today.
Before this short documentary was made, Allen, a historian, had been researching Klippert for some time. He was drawn to the fact that this man had been almost forgotten by society.
In 2016, after reading some of Allen’s posts and findings online, Globe and Mail reporter John Ibbitson met Allen in Calgary to discuss the story.
“He gave the story national attention and asked the prime minister to apologize to the community as a result, and that’s when we got the apology last year, in November,” said Allen.
The historian says he believes Klippert’s story had a role to play in making that happen. He also says he wants Klippert’s story to be remembered in Canadian history.
“Injustice and human rights struggles can teach us a lot about our humanity,” said Allen.
Klippert died in 1996.
Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story, directed by Laura O’Grady and produced in collaboration with Telus’s STORYHIVE, was released in July and is now available online. It made its theatrical debut on Saturday at the Calgary International Film Festival.