The federal government has long been a favoured place of work for Ottawa queers. However, our community lived in a cloud of fear for decades as RCMP officers spied on federal employees, and even workers in the private sector, to remove these people as so-called 'security risks'. Their thinking was that, during the Cold War era, gays and lesbians could be blackmailed into telling government secrets in order to remain closeted.
An estimate of about 4-600 people were fired from their jobs under suspicion of being queer. [read the Fruit Machine entry for more information.] Because of this witch hunt against our community, Ottawa has been a very cautious city generally, and this conversative climate in many ways still exists.
However, the allure of public sex could not be denied in this era, and surprisingly, a path behind the Centre Block on Parliament Hill was a notorious cruising area the area is cleared.
Svend Robinson makes waves on the Hill when he becomes the first Canadian MP to come out as gay, in the spring of 1988. He was the only openly LGBT member of the Canadian House of Commons until Bloc Québécois MP Réal Ménard came out in 1994.
Over the years, as queer rights became more accepted, Pride groups formed in various branches of government. Public Service Pride is a popular monthly event, where they host a bar/social event from 5-7pm on the last Friday of the month. They also hold PSP Women's Socials the third Thursday of each month.
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