The Foolscap Gay Oral Historyee's family is originally from Ukraine. Was born in Winnipeg and grew up in Hamilton. Came to Toronto in 1955 to study modern languages and literature at UofT; after which he taught for 8 years and then wen ton to pursue a Masters of Social Work. First had gay feelings …
The Foolscap Gay Oral Historyee's family is originally from Ukraine. Was born in Winnipeg and grew up in Hamilton. Came to Toronto in 1955 to study modern languages and literature at UofT; after which he taught for 8 years and then wen ton to pursue a Masters of Social Work. First had gay feelings at age 12 although he was confused by them. His first sexual experience was with a girl when he was 13 or 14, and then with an older gentleman at age 16 in Burlington. This experience put him off the idea as the other man was a bit aggressive. He had a regular fling with a married man between the ages of 16 and 19 when he was still in Hamilton before moving to Toronto at age 19 in the early 1950s. Would meet other gay folks at school and in bars. Would cruise parks and bathrooms for sex, especially near UofT such as Queen’s Park, Hart House, and University College. Would sometimes go cruising with groups of friends, although these were just platonic friends and never dated any of them. He would sometimes have casual girlfriends or girl dates for social events where he felt pressured to be with a woman. He would visit Charlie’s Tavern as he claims it was full of gays, as well as the Red Lion at the Westbury, and Letros. Mentions going to the Oak Leaf baths and cruising at High Park. Once in Buffalo at age 21 he was assaulted by two straight men who lured him into cruising but in the end robbed and beat him. Would sometimes visit Buffalo with friends and go party and attend drag shows. Mentions how clubs like Letros were always mostly full of men as seeing women in gay bars was a rarity by this time. Doesn’t recall socializing with lesbians at the time as he only had few women friends but didn’t discuss these issues with them. Remembers referring to lesbians as ‘diesel dykes’, and using gay for himself in the 1950s. Mentions two encounters with the police once in Buffalo as he was more adventurous and risqué with his sexuality while in a foreign city. One for disrupting a show, and one for having sex in a car with football players. Recalls his friends getting arrested periodically in Toronto. Came out to his mother at age 21-22 but she just laughed it off and ignored it as she couldn’t understand it, yet she always hoped he’d be happy. House parties were common at this time as bars closed at 11-12. Graduated in 1961 and then from his MSW in 1968. He eventually married a woman he met when he was 25-26 as they worked together and had good chemistry. They married in 1962. At the time he was a bit disillusioned with the idea of being gay after an unfortunate encounter with the police in May 1961 when he was 25 which cost him his teaching certificate, as a problematic student of his falsely accusing of molesting another student and the police harassed him as a result. He eventually went to court for this and he plead not guilty (end of side 1).
Nonetheless, the police pushed for a conviction even though the judges and the court didn’t see the need for it, and as a result he lost his teacher certificate and had spent at the time 22 years fighting for it back. This happened at Queensborough Junior High School in North York. The issue cost him his job and a few relationships with other coworkers and peers who shunned him out of disgust or because they were gay and afraid of facing the same stigma. As this experience was a bit traumatic, he figured he would try to become straight and since he liked this woman he married her and stayed together for 18 years, eventually having a kid. He continued having sex with men throughout his marriage, as he didn’t stop being friends with his gay circle. He taught in Europe form 1963 to 1965 as his secondary school certificate was valid there. Before going to Europe he taught in Alberta for a bit but the situation got complicated with his certificate so he quit. Moved to Edmonton with some friends and then to Northern Ontario, a period after which he went to Europe. Got into school for social work in 66 and the after graduating pursued this career for eight years. Worked in Children’s Aid for a bit and then for the Toronto Board of Education for 6 years, but he was forced to resign after the administration found out about his case in 1976, after which he ended up working odd jobs. His marriage started falling apart by 1974, his wife moved out in 1978, and he has been divorced since 1979. Goes back to describing gay social life in the 1950s, talking about the house parties he would go to. There would be alcohol and sometimes weed too. Describes these groups of friends as being a support system for gays in the 1950s. He believes we are all bisexual to a certain extent and learn to love whoever we are with. He mentions his daughter may be aware of all these tings but they have never really discussed them explicitly. She was born in 1966 and was 16 at the time of the Foolscap Gay Oral History. Describes the area between College and Bloor on Yonge as having a higher proportion of gays, as well as the Annex. Describes the City Park buildings as being full of gays. Remembers having a possibly gay uncle growing up.
Dates and locations mentioned: Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, Europe, Burlington, Buffalo, Northern Ontario, Edmonton, Alberta. 1950s, 1960s, 1980s.