Guy And Me -- One Thing Leads To Another
Guy and I first met one night in 1970, in the St. Charles. He was a printer by trade, drove a little red sports car, and hadn't been long out of prison. He whisked me off to the printing house where he worked, we smoked up, marvelled over all the ink nozzles that squirted multi colours, and then fucked on the shop floor among the presses and the restaurant menus. It was great but forever afterwards he was apologetic about it, thought it lacked style. We had an affair of what, six months? But we always remained friends.
He didn't want me to know he'd been to prison at first, but then I found a book from the prison library on his shelf. He was worried I'd think less of him. I thought that was a great joke. Brought up middle-class, law-abiding and very timid in a commuter town north of Montreal, nevertheless I came out in bars like the Altesse, Dominion Square Tavern, the Plateau (long before its leather and denim days,) the Only, that circuit. Compared to most Toronto gay bars these were not the most genteel of places.
My first boyfriend, Johnny, aka Pancho, aka Glen, had done time in Dorchester. He was good people, Cree/Metis/Irish, kind to me, trying to juggle a different set of circumstances than my own. By the time we met I'd been tricking for two or three years. But I'd been too young for the bars and looked even younger. Finding people where I could I'd never really had much in the way of gay friends and Johnny's friends became mine. I had to come to Toronto before I was part of a gay circle that included anyone who hadn't been in a penitentiary and even then it was half and half. Not that I ever had what it takes to be the least bit tough myself.
Guy had the smarts and the hustle to do pretty well for himself legitimately but sometimes I thought he just didn't have the patience. But who am I to condescend? When he finally tired of prison he did quite well for himself on an above board basis. Anyways he was back in jail two or three times after I first met him. We'd write each other, I'd keep in contact with his current boyfriend, lover. We'd all get together occasionally when he was back out.
He'd been kind of bigoted about black folks when I met him so it was a laugh, just deserts, ending up cellmates with Rosie Douglas. Perhaps this is what started Guy's politicization, I don't think I can claim much credit there. But through us knowing each other, he probably got a taste of gay liberation itself sooner than he might have otherwise. While in prison he started writing various articles that appeared in different places. In this way did Gay Liberation, The Visible Quest For Equality appear in the prison paper People In Transition, of which he was a co-editor. Other articles appeared in such places as the GPU News (Gay People's Union), out of Wisconsin. One of his letters to me mentions exchanges he'd been having with Gay Sunshine, the paper out of San Francisco. He later went on to start a gay lib group in Joyceville prison. On another front he finished at least one comic novel but I'm not sure what eventually happened there. A couple of years ago, the late 1980's at a Pride Day in Toronto was the last time we ran into each other.
Indulge me or skip over this but I'll run through the shaggy dog connection to the CHAT firebombing and the degrees of separation it provides between the Prime Minister of Dominica and the Premier of the USSR (who had been attacked in Ottawa by one of the people implicated in the CHAT incident.)
I'm working in Montreal, lunch counter and dishwash job of the kind I did for 5 or 6 years. It's 1969 and by chance at this moment in February I'm standing across the road from the computer centre of Sir George Williams University (later Concordia.) Smoke is rising and a shower of computer cards descending from windows nine stories above. The centre had been occupied by people protesting racism at the university and things have gotten a little out of hand. All a remote world to me. Among those sent to prison for this was Rosie Douglas, a future prime minister of Dominica. Arrested too was Ann Cools, future Liberal senator, though she didn't get time.
Guy ended up sharing a cell with Douglas, from whom he learned about socialism and how not to be a bigot. In turn Douglas learned about gay people and this new thing, gay lib. Parallels were drawn I suppose. Once the two of them were out of jail Guy wanted his old boyfriend the gay activist and his old cellmate the black radical to meet. A purely social occasion, there wasn't much talk of anything in particular. Douglas said the rumour in the black community was that gay radicals had shotgunned the Western Guard storefront in retaliation for the attack on the St. Lawrence Centre meeting and the firebombing of the CHAT Centre. And that thereafter we'd had no trouble. (See the CHAT chapter for Charlie's and my connection with CHAT and the St. Lawrence meeting and therefore the final shaggy degree of separation via a Wsstern Guard member who'd attacked Premier Kosygin.) An interesting story and I'd hated to spoil it. I did wonder where it had come from. I just said it was news to me.
By this time Guy's lover was Steve, someone Charlie and I liked a lot. He was one of those people of contrasts, emotional but practical, caring, self sacrificing but aware of the point where it becomes a useless exercise. Charlie and I helped him move one time and if you can imagine a harried housewife with the technique and tongue of a Teamster, barrelling across town with a truckload of furniture, taking no prisoners, that's my favorite image of him. A very nice, loving loyal person, he was also willing to kick up a lot of dust to make things turn out the way he thought they should. Although they did eventually break up they remained friends long afterwards.
During Guy's times in jail in the 1970's he and Steve had long battles with the prison system over conjugal visitation rights, among other points of discrimination, fighting to have to have Steve named as Guy's "conjugant". There's a CLGA file of sixty some pages detailing some of this. It was also covered in the mainstream press. With the help of the federal prison ombudsman Guy did have some success in his quest for changes. Which the prison system in turn dealt out some retribution for.
The BP did a story on Guy in mid-1974 and followed up with a feature article in the fall of that year. He was disappointed in their coverage, feeling it had been turned from a story of liberation into one of oppression. To quote from his letter to me at that time: "I assumed it was going to be presented in a positive point of view, perhaps something that would encourage other gay inmates to take a stand and demand equal treatment in all prison privileges and rehabilitative programs. If anything Walter (Blumenthal/Bruno) has played on wrongs being committed against gays and has presented it in such a way as to leave everyone thinking there is nothing we can do about it. That type of writing where you take someone who is having injustices committed against them and expose it for the sake of mild sensationalism, was fine five years ago, but I like to feel that the pulse of Gay Liberation has quickened since then and it is important to present such cases with the action that is now being taken to overcome these hardships. I get the feeling that if any inmate read Walter's article he would step that much further into his closet."
Circa 1977 and out of prison Guy began to work with Gays of Ottawa on their phoneline and their political action committee. As with me on the TAG phoneline, he found that working on the phonelines had the unfortunate effect of exponentially increasing your anger over society's homophobic ways.
Through Guy we met Doug, a very amiable and attractive man Guy had known in prison. Charlie had an especially soft spot for him: he reminded Charlie of people he'd known in the navy.
Dougie came to his rescue one day in the early eighties. Charlie had had an afternoon beer in the Parkside. A couple of guys were lounging outside hassling people. As he left he happened to glance back, not fully realizing what they were saying. Unknown to him they in turn started to follow. Halfway down the block, the middle of the afternoon on Yonge St., they jumped him from behind, breaking his glasses and kicking him repeatedly as he lay on the sidewalk. At that point who should happen to be coming up the street from the St. Charles but Dougie. Small but tough as hell, he quickly sent them both packing.
Charlie phoned the cops and while he was waiting for them saw one of the guys go into the St. Charles. When the cops arrived everyone walked around to the back alley, where there was a rear entrance. The guy was standing there with a friend and when the cops tried to question him he attacked them. That sealed his fate. Everything went to court, Charlie testified, the guy was convicted, put on probation and ordered to pay for the broken glasses. Which he never did.
Toronto Islands ferry, on the rail Guy with hat, Steve to right; that's not a Happy Face on his T-shirt but its antidote.
Looks like Peter Maloney in the pink shirt, but without a front view can't be sure.
In front Steve, Guy, Doug
Steve, Guy, Doug, at the back me with no shades, and Bill Klein