D’Arcy Gauther was there in Ottawa when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for the federal government’s LGBT Purge that saw thousands of men and women kicked out of the armed forces. (Greg Laychak/ The Progress)

D’Arcy Gauther was there in Ottawa when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for the federal government’s LGBT Purge that saw thousands of men and women kicked out of the armed forces. (Greg Laychak/ The Progress)

B.C. man kicked out of military in LGBT Purge hears PM’s apology

Raised an army brat, devoted to a military career, anti-gay policy shattered D’Arcy Gauthier’s life

D’Arcy Gauthier has a glimmer in his eye as he speaks with pride about his decade in the military.

A “military brat” growing up, moving from base to base, he dropped out of school in November 1981 and enlisted as soon as he could, just after his 17th birthday.

He was top of the class in basic training, rising through the ranks to Master Corporal, chosen for special duties that involved both the Queen of England and the Pope during the Cold War in the 1980s.

“I was a very good soldier,” Gauthier recounts with a smile during a chat about his career on the back deck at this Chilliwack home.

Being a good solider at that time wasn’t good enough. And being a gay soldier meant you were a “sexual deviant.”

After extensive investigation, interrogations and humiliating treatment of his wife and two children, Gauthier was shamed out of the military in Canada’s now-notorious LGBT purge.

“I was told I’m an embarrassment to my family and my family’s military service,” Gauthier said, adding that he can’t remember the names of his commanding officer or his military police interrogators.

“But I don’t think I’ll ever forget their faces”

After discharge, there were the haunting words on his military records, papers he burned in a park in Toronto right around the time he was briefly homeless: “Sexual deviant.”

But Gauthier has his redemption after his visit to Ottawa on Nov. 28. It was there he looked into the eyes of Justin Trudeau after the prime minister’s direct apology to 70 LGBTQ people kicked out in the purge.

A career on the rise

Gauthier’s family moved from Chilliwack to CFB Borden in Ontario in August 1981. Three months later he dropped out of school and was off to what turned out to be a very successful basic training in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia in 1982.

He had his first pick of postings, a reward for being top of his class so he chose Comox because he wanted to be in the Air Force and he wanted to be close to his parents who were now back in Chilliwack. He worked for the anti-submarine air force squadron scanning the Pacific for subs.

Gauthier moved into administrative duties and had several experiences in that role. He was selected as chief protocol clerk at a conference of defence ministers from countries all over the world. The protocol clerk’s job was to do things like, ensure the wife of one minister had orchids in her hotel room, and that another minister not be seated next to another he didn’t like.

“That was a reward for being a good solider,” Gauthier said. “I got to do special things like that. I had a really good career.”

His next posting was at the 7th CFSD Edmonton, a division that supplied all of Western Canada with anything needed, and two years later he and his wife and two children were relocated to CFB Kingston. This was 1 Canada Signals Regiment, “hardcore army,” as he puts it.

“It was not for me,” he said, but he endured because he was focused on his career, and to thrive and rise through the ranks that meant serving all four elements: air, land, sea and headquarters.

Then came the beginning of the end for Gauthier. He was selected for an award for his work teaching air cadets. He and his wife were flown to Edmonton for the ceremony, after which they attended a party.

“I went into the kitchen to get a drink for my wife and I and there were two guys there,” he said. “All of a sudden this guy kissed me. Then I knew what all my feelings were about.”

Raised in smaller communities, in military circles, Gauthier didn’t know many gay people. And, it turns out, until that moment, he didn’t even know he was gay.

Back to Kingston, it was now September 1989, and for three months he was in a real depression.

“How the hell am I going to tell my wife?”

Finally, he broke down before Christmas and told her. For a young couple, Gauthier said the two were very adult about it, they figured out the paperwork themselves and, by the new year, they were divorced.

Then came the military investigation as part of a systemic government policy of harassment, persecution and prosecution, what was later known as the LGBT Purge.

His wife was forced to make a statement. He was followed by military police, harassed sometimes and stopped for no reason.

Then there was the infamous “fruit machine,” a lie detector test developed in Canada created decades earlier to detect gay men in the military.

“They brought you into dark rooms and asked you questions: Do you like men? Do you like women? Why did you have children? Have you ever slept with a man? Do you like the male physique?”

It was traumatizing, but the worst part was for his boy, Joel.

“The kids found out,” Gauthier said. “At four years old, sorry I can’t play with you because your dad is a fag. Joel had a really hard time of it.”

career shut down

Bullied into signing his own release from the military, just short of his 10-year mark in service, which would have meant a further extension of a contract and he was even in line for another promotion, it was all over.

His marriage. His career. Over.

“I ended up moving to Toronto,” he said. “Kicked out of the military, I had no money. Do you know how hard it is when all you know is the military?”

Things went from bad to worse. Gauthier had a boyfriend who cheated on him so he beat him up and ended up in the Don Jail. His ex-wife drove from Kingston to bail him out, but he decided he needed to deal with his own problems so he went back to Toronto.

“I was homeless for three and a half months,” he said. “Do you know how hard it is to get a job when you are homeless?”

He was too humiliated to take welfare, and he finally landed a job for a shelter, driving around picking up food from restaurants and hotels. He kept applying for jobs but was overqualified to be an entry-level front-office person with his extensive military administrative skills.

Finally he landed a good job, but even there he was eventually fired for being gay when new owners came in.

“I ended up winning a really healthy settlement so I took that and studied to be a Realtor,” he said.

After that, some time in Costa Rica running a business, now back to Chilliwack he has a partner and he takes care of his parents in his house.

It was just earlier this year that some victims of the LGBT Purge began to come together to demand an apology. A class action lawsuit was launched and as part of a settlement reached on Nov. 24, an agreement in principle was put in place to divvy up $145 million. Individual compensation to those kicked out of the military will be a minimum of $5,000, up to a maximum of $150,000 based on the level of harm suffered.

• READ MORE: Apology to Canadians persecuted for being gay coming Nov. 28: Trudeau

• READ MORE: $100M for ‘gay purge’ victims as Trudeau apologizes for discrimination

There are a number of other elements of the settlement, but most importantly was an apology in writing from the Prime Minister.

Thousands of men and women were kicked out of services for being gay, but Gauthier was one of just 70 invited to hear Trudeau’s apology in person.

Leading up to the apology, those involved were asked for input on what they wanted to see in an apology.

“I wanted to be able to see the pain on the face of the Prime Minister,” he said. “I want to know that they truly were sorry for everything that they did to us.

“I got what I wanted.”

Gauthier said he and those involved were generally extremely happy with the apology, and the sincerity behind it.

A Tweet from Chief of Defence Staff account put it well, in Gauthier’s opinion.

“I am deeply sorry to all of you who were ever investigated, charged or released from the military because of your sexual orientation. You showed us honour and dedication and we showed you the door”

Gauthier believes Trudeau is truly sorry, and the apology was emotional and helpful moving forward after having his military career ruined.

“It was quite amazing actually,” he said of the apology. “There was a woman who was part of our group in her 70s. She was sitting right in front of Trudeau. He went right up to her after, he hugged her and started sobbing with her.”

“I came back empowered.”


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Graduate Belle Riding is congratulated by Lake City Secondary School learning support teacher Gail Gardner as she makes her way across the stage to receive her diploma. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
2021 Lake City Secondary School grads take centre stage at Williams Lake campus ceremonies

Ceremonies took place over two days, with COVID-19 restrictions in place for second year in a row

BGC Williams Lake Sprockids participants get ready to hit the trails on Fox Mountain May 27 in Williams Lake. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Sprockids mountain biking program at BGC Williams Lake provides positive, outdoor outlet for youth

Sprockids aims to give youth the opportunity to saddle up on mountain bikes and hit the trails

Paradise Cinemas is ready to welcome back movie viewers once the province gives movie theatres the go-ahead. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
VIDEO: Williams Lake’s Paradise Cinemas eyes June 18 re-opening if COVID-19 restrictions allow

Managing partner Munraj Hothi is looking forward to showing movies again

The Williams Lake Tourism Discovery Centre (Photo submitted)
Bike wash station now available at Tourism Discovery Centre

The project was a long-time goal of the Williams Lake Cycling Club

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Most Read