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A Sudbury professor and researcher will be in Ottawa next week when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologizes to LGBT Canadians for historic abuses in the federal service, including the RCMP and the military.
Until 1992 in Canada, being gay in the military was not only illegal, it could mean an investigation, arrest, hostile interrogation and being fired.
Lynne Gouliquer joined the military in 1976 and worked as an air weapons technician with the Air Force. She left in 1995 to pursue graduate studies and completed her masters and PhD.
Gouliquer says she was 18 years old when she joined and didn’t know her own sexual orientation at that time. Three or four years into her service, she came to understand her own sexual orientation and identified as a lesbian.
“The climate was not healthy. You could not be out,” she said.
“Often people were removed and went so fast there, we could only call it disappearing. We knew why.”
Gouliquer says she didn’t get kicked out of the military for her sexual orientation, but says the culture didn’t change even when the law did.
“I left because it was no longer a place where I felt I could grow,” she said.
“I was pushed out in a sense because their culture wasn’t accepting enough. If their culture was open and accepting enough, I probably wouldn’t have left.”
Let go with no help
She left and started doing research on the topic. She completed her Masters of Arts on lesbians in the Canadian military. Eventually, she worked with other professors to research looking at LGBT soldiers in the military.
Gouliquer says 126 people were interviewed for her research.
“So we have sort of a history of the Canadian military from their perspective and what happened to them,” she said.
She says some told her they were kicked out of the military and told they were being given an honourable discharge so they could get a job in the future.
“They just let them go with no help, with nothing,” she said.
“The investigations that these people were submitted to … were horrible on them.”
The first step
Gouliquer says many people at the time didn’t talk about it because not everyone was open about their sexual orientation with their friends and families.
She says she’s pleased the topic is being discussed so openly now.
“The apology is like the first step,” she said.
“Educating the public [that] this is what happened in the past [and] we don’t want it to happen again. This is huge for me.”
She says she’s hoping to get another grant to do more research on the topic in the future.
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Originally posted 2017-11-23 03:32:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter