Calgary’s gay history to be told in new play
Chicken on the Way and the King Edward Hotel seemed to be gay hot-spots in the ‘60s
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Everett Klippert’s truths essentially led to his demise.
Klippert, who’s considered one of Calgary’s gay relics, will have his story told through playwright Natalie Meisner.
In development through Third Street Theatre, the story — titled 69: Legislating Love & The Everett Klippert Story — delves into Klippert’s past: he was a city bus driver that was charged with gross indecency for having a relationships with men.
Klippert wanted a fresh start, so he moved to the North West Territories.
But things only got worse.
It’s believed he was coerced by authorities to admit he started a fire.
Authorities knew his secret, so they used it as leverage.
As a result, Klippert was jailed for the arson charge but, again things got worse and he received another charge for gross indecency.
Meisner, who also teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University, said Klippert’s story becomes even more ironic.
Klippert’s story caught wind by then Justice Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau in 1967. When Trudeau became Prime Minister, he then decriminalized such “indecent acts.”
But, because Klippert was in jail during that time, the law didn’t apply to him. So, he sat behind bars until 1971.
“You tell the truth and you’re kind to everybody, yet this happens,” Meisner said. “He was one of the most beloved transit drivers.”
Klippert was somewhat forgotten once he was freed, she added.
Meisner’s story becomes a tad more fictional when she introduces Maxine, a history professor who becomes fascinated with Klippert’s story.
Maxine is also a lesbian and, ultimately, her reality isn’t much different than Klippert’s.
For example, both Maxine and Klippert grab a bite to eat with their partners at Chicken on the Way in their respective eras.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s different time frames — everything is physically the same,” Meisner said. “Chicken on the Way is still that meeting place.”
Other interesting landmarks include the King Edward Hotel, where some gay men would meet. There was also a women’s softball league in East Village, too.
“I find Calgarians are suddenly interested in history,” she said. “We’re using this play to share some of that history, but also get people to understand the importance of our gay elders and how they’ve paved the way for the freedom we have.”
The play will hold its first reading Friday at Loft 112 in East Village. A second reading will be held on Feb. 19 and March 18.
The event is accepting donations.