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https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2021/02/05/activist-looks-back-40-years-to-torontos-bathhouse-raids-the-flashpoint-moment-in-fight-for-lgbtq-rights-in-canada.html

 

What many seem not to know is that the Sunday night before the raids the CBC aired a documentary on homosexuality. The camera toured the Richmond Street Sauna (a great place) where we saw people lying on their stomachs with towels discreetly placed over their buttocks. This in Baptist Ontario on a Sunday night was too much.

Staff at the long gone and much missed Roman Sauna on Bay Street told me the police actually apologized to them as they did their job.

Yes, all of the Baths were raided but the Richmond Street Sauna was the focus of the raid. It was utterly destroyed.

The police are not blame. They act always thanks to orders from on high.

I arrived in Toronto before Trudeau said the state had no right to be in the bedrooms of the nation.

There were two scenes: the private scene of parties and discretion.

The downtown scene where the discreet people said only the trash went.

I have always preferred the company of the “trash.”

I was out before it was safe to be out frankly because it was the only way to be safe from the threat of blackmail and because we don’t have to force ourselves to remember the truth.

From being out at that time I learned that people secure in their sexuality did not feel threatened by me and appreciated my honesty.

The chief trouble came from closeted gay men who saw in me the embodiment of everything they hated in themselves. One of my first friends in this city was the late John Herbert (author of FORTUNE AND MEN’S EYES). From him I learned the fear and hatred of out gay men by closeted gay men had deep roots. I learned from Jack that despite all the hullabaloo (and stories like the excellent piece in today’s STAR) when it comes to standing up to hate we’re on our own.

Seems I was born for this as my father told me he had hated me from the moment I was born as in that instant he realized he had to die. The day after he told me this Michael Valpy interviewed me for THE GLOBE AND MAIL. When I told him that Michael said, “First born sons.” In that moment I realized this is something very common.

My friend Jane Jacobs told me that when we see wrong being done and refuse to act not only do we kill a part of our self we become the greater wrong.

Being out in high school in the 60s meant being an unwelcome presence.

My high school principal told me I had the wrong attitude and would starve in two weeks if I left school that day. Had I not left I would I have starved.

In an issue of PSYCHOLOGY TODAY titled “The Value Of The Homosexual Experience” I read that homosexual men and women either accept the world’s condemnation and self destruct through surrender to drink, drugs, religion and sex or center themselves and learn to think for themself.

Thinking for our self is something very, very few do. For decades I have stood pretty much alone against an unflinching campaign of hate that would should long ago have driven me to disease or self destruction. From it I have learned folks in general prefer to turn a blind eye. Thankfully, not everyone does (https://ericbrauer.wordpress.com/…/21/profile-reg-hartt/ , https://www.theglobeandmail.com/…/toront…/article549053/ ).

It is ironic that decades of oppression over what we do in our private life at home in our beds ended thanks to what we do in our public life in bathhouses.

Socrates was fond of bathhouses. That was where he met Phaedo.

My favorite bathhouse in Toronto today is Spa Xcess. It embodies the best of the Romans.

Because homosexual people are forced to think for ourselves or self destruct it is no accident we are numbered among the great artists, thinkers, writes. Jean Cocteau (the epitome of an out gay man from his youth to his death) said, “Whatever the world condemns you for make it your own. It is yourself.” That takes strength.

The decision of The University of Toronto not to employ Michel Foucault comes as no surprise. It is rare a backbone is founds in academia.

We often hear the secret to success is to be our self. The problem is that each of us is a book being written and none of us have a clue who our self is.

“Someone ought to do it, but why should I? Someone ought to do it, so why not I? Between these two sentences lie whole centuries of moral evolution.”― Annie Besant.

Our answer to those questions will determine who we are.

From what I read in THE STAR I gather Bob Gallagher answered as I do. Thanks for this encouraging story.

Jane Jacobs’ last book was titled DARK AGE AHEAD (2004). Critics said she was wrong. Time, as always, is proving her right. The present moment is going to get much worse. We are going to need a lot more people who have learned to think for them selves.

Such are not going to come from our universities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUQYpbqHXE4 .

Gordon Bowness in an issue of XTRA! said, “Reg Hartt talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks ….” Perhaps I have said too much. Nonetheless it is said. Let it remain said.

Over a beer in her home Jane Jacobs (a friend and mentor from her arrival in Toronto in 1968 until her passing in 2006) said. “The best part of what you offer is what you have to say.” https://www.ranker.com/list/famous-male-orators/reference . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YonLUG7gRyY&t=216s .

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