Half of us homosex-chuals believe we're so damned special and important and scary and threatening to the status quo that our every word is of the utmost import to Canada's evil spooks. The other half of us make fun of the paranoid narcissists.
But there is -- or at least, was until quite recently -- something about queers that the coppers just couldn't stop watching. Literally.
tracked some of the surveillance in his 2002 book "Spying 101: The RCMP's Secret Activities at Canadian Universities, 1917-1997,"
written after years of access to information requests and archival research. The then-high-school educated cops were especially freaked by universities, as they were filled with the free exchange of naughty ideas and the snooty eggheads who lorded it over the vaguely insecure state authorities. Plus, the yout' were not respectful of their elders. In short, campuses were riddled with Commies and ne'er-do-well malcontents. From 1971 to '73, Hewitt notes, gays were "targeted" at the universities of Calgary, Saskatchewan, and Waterloo. Those last Ontario faggots were classified a "significant threat."
The iconic Gay Alliance Toward Equality
was of interest. Students and profs in Mathematics were also particularly watched, as the discipline "is more akin to philosophy as it is an abstract subject. This means it is open to a more individualistic interpretation and accordingly attracts a more freethinking and unconventional individual." Other problematic areas of study included Political Economy (celebrity faculty "had the ability to influence students and the general public"), and Social Work and Library Science types ("because of the presence of activists seeking unionization").
Hilariously, "the recurring message by the middle of the 1970s was clear: there was little in the way of campus countersubversion work for the Security Service to perform. A lengthy annual report about York University
concluded that while the situation there was troubled, it was 'from a social point of view, not from a Security Service point of view.'" Though some tinpot in a smaller urban centre was still sincerely concerned, warning, "If a city such as Kitchener or Waterloo is converted to maoism then the rest of the country will fall."
"Before the 1970s," writes Hewitt, "the concept that societal factors and not agitators might be the cause of unrest had not been recognized by the RCMP...
Now there was an increasing understanding that the world was more complex." At one point, spooks began to talk with the young hippies to ask why they were so, like, discontented, man.
As campus protests subsided, the Security Service found new busy work. Jewish and Arab groups, campus-based anti-apartheid groups that were suspected of having Communist sympathies, and Oxfam,
whose "efforts often coincided with Soviet foreign policy goals."
Feminists were very, very bad. The Mounties disapproved because "they challenged traditional gender barriers, including those within the force itself, which women were able to begin joining only in 1974." The RCMP kept files on everybody, from the "Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (WITCH)
and the Phantom Purple Penis Avengers [not a single mention of this group in a Google search], the latter having disrupted a Miss Teen-Age BC Beauty Pageant, to an abortion rights group at the University of Saskatchewan and a women's conference at Montreal in January 1973. The latter, open only to women, was covered by a female source -- the RCMP followed the pattern of the FBI in the United States, which either recruited from within women's groups or had women infiltrate from outside. As late as 1982 members of the Kitchener office of the Security Service spied on a gathering in Guelph to commemorate International Women's Day.
Unfortunately for the Mounties present, there was not sufficient light to allow for photographs to be taken of the members of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)
"The same formula applied to the Security Service's interest in other areas that had both an on-campus and off-campus presence. Gay rights' groups, like the University of Guelph Homophile Association, the University of Saskatchewan Gay Student Alliance, Vancouver's Gay Liberation Front, and the Gay Liberation Group at McMaster University, are cases in point. The RCMP spied on the latter, even though the force admitted, in an internal communication, that it was not being used as a 'front by any subversive organization.'"
So it turns out that, in the beginning, we were alone. No Soviet cash, no truck with the Irish Republican Army
nor the (investigated by the RCMP) church-run peaceniks of Project Ploughshares.
And even so, with no allies on our side, the coppers could not bring themselves to leave us be.
How things have changed. We're not alone any more! And sadly, a good dose of healthy subversion still has little to do with the queer movement.