The Fruit Machine Playing At 15 Wing On Saturday

Michelle Douglas and Wayne Davis - submitted photo

Michelle Douglas and Wayne Davis - submitted photo

By Jordan Bosch

In the early 1960s a discriminatory and highly flawed testing device first came into use in Canada that would come to be known as the “Fruit Machine”.

Measuring such things as heart rate and pupil dilation of men subjected to homoerotic imagery, it was an attempt to weed out homosexuals from military service, governmental service, and whatever other institutions that wanted to excise these people for bigoted reasons (some heterosexual people were effected too, losing their jobs for being perceived as gay). It was part of a larger government-sanctioned push known as the Gay Purge and it was perfectly legal.

The details surrounding the fruit machine and the pervading atmosphere of systemic blacklisting towards the LGBTQ community in Canada for decades is the subject of the recent documentary of the same name by filmmaker Sarah Fodey, which is being screened at the 15 Wing Theatre on Saturday March 16th by Moose Jaw Pride and CFB-Moose Jaw.

It’s an aspect of Canadian history that’s been either largely forgotten or outright ignored since the first Prime Minister Trudeau decriminalized homosexuality in 1969. The discrimination and stigmatization continued long past that ruling and the effects of the gay purge are still being felt today.

Following the showing (which is free), there will be a discussion with two survivors of the purge, former CAF officer Michelle Douglas and former RCMP sergeant Wayne Davis, who will share their experiences of having been forced out of those organizations because of their sexuality.

If you’ve never heard of the fruit machine or the gay purge, you should really go to this showing. And if you have, you should still go to hear firsthand from people whose lives it detrimentally impacted.

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