The Jury Room bar, located on the ground level of the Carleton Hotel at 1685 Argyle Street in Halifax, was the site of the second known Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual picket in Halifax. (The first picket being of the CBC when they refused to air a Public Service Announcement for the Gayline, the Gay Alliance for Equality’s gay phoneline.) Though not a gay bar, The Jury Room was frequented by gay Haligonians.
On April 22 of 1977 about a dozen men were thrown out of the Jury Room, for being gay. The bartender told Chris Shepherd, who was enjoying a night out with friends, that the Jury Room would not serve “people of your kind”. The manager told the men “just take your queens and get the f**k out of here.”
In the media that followed, the Jury Room’s general manager Neil Gilis called the gay men “undesirables” and was quoted in 4th Estate newspaper as saying “They’re so obvious it’s pathetic… Society hasn’t accepted them and I certainly haven’t. I think I’m probably speaking for the average straight person. How can you be sympathetic to those people”?
The next night, Gay Alliance for Equality activists Anne Fulton, Deb Trask, Robin Metcalfe, and Jim McSwain returned to the bar sporting “GAY RIGHTS NOW” pins. Robin and Jim were turned away due to “trouble with your movement” last night.
On April 30, 1977 35 members of the Gay Alliance for Equality (GAE) & supporters picked the Jury Room, turning away a “great many” customers Anne Fulton wrote for The Voice. The fight considerably raised the profile of Halifax’s gay and lesbian population. As Anne Fulton said to The Body Politic, “There are many people in the city who know we have been discriminated against and that gay people have no protection in the Human Rights Act. She continued “The first step to eliminating repression is to make our oppression known.”
Photo credit: B&W – Robin Metcalfe. Colour – Rebecca Rose.
This listing was created by Rebecca Rose on July 4, 2023. Rebecca Rose (she/her) is a Cape Breton-born, and Dartmouth-raised queer femme writer and activist. Rebecca’s book Before the Parade: A History of Halifax’s Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Communities (1972-1984) – published by Nimbus Publishing – is a narrative non-fiction account of 1970s and 80s 2SLGB (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual) Halifax. In 2021 Before the Parade was one of three books shortlisted for The Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award.