The Fruit Machine

Some softened by age and sadness, others loud and angry, the voices of the survivors of Canada’s public service homosexual purge are now united, and determined. They are torqued by decades of silence, years of being ignored. They demand justice, and they want to be heard.

Theirs is a story of betrayal that is both national and deeply personal. Men and women who dedicated their lives to public service, some signing oaths of allegiance and servitude; casualties of a political tapestry woven in the fibers of acute security measures that somehow became normalized.

They speak and a generalized queasiness takes hold. These voices are each distinct, but there exists a haunting sameness. They unknowingly became bound together back in those tiny, dimly-lit rooms that tossed their dignity around like an erratic rubber ball that hits everything and nothing at the same time; one that creates a kinetic energy that seems impossible to still.  
“They are torqued by decades of silence, years of being ignored. They demand justice, and they want to be heard.”
After the Second World War, Canada, and much of the Western world, became preoccupied with national security. Against the backdrop of Cold War paranoia, Canada began investigating federal employees who might be susceptible to blackmail by Soviet spies.

Homosexuality, then considered a “character weakness,” (along with drunkenness and adultery), was grounds for surveillance and interrogation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, under the directive of the newly-established Security Panel. The Department of National Defence shared the RCMP’s conservative mindset and pervasive bigotry.

Over the course of four decades, thousands of men and women had their privacy invaded and their careers ruined. They were interrogated, threatened, and manipulated. Many suffered psychological effects; some took their own lives. It was one of the largest bullying campaigns in Canada’s history.
The miasma of despair born in those pop-up interrogation rooms has long-paralyzed these public servants and military members. This is their film. A film about the systematic dismissal of homosexual public servants in Canada from the 1950s through 1980s; a story rooted in hope and a country’s struggle to do the right thing.

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