The Halifax Gayline opened in 1972 and ceased operations in 1996 after providing a quarter century of information, counselling and referral service to the gay/lesbian/bisexual (and curious, and homophobic) communities.
It was staffed by trained volunteers and was funded by GAE and later GALA; after that wound down, other GayBars donated space and money for the phone line. The hours of the Gayline were for the most part 7:30 to 10:00pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
We had the interesting number, 429-6969!
In the 90's the name was changed to The Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Line.
The Gayline moved around! Here's some timelines:
Training for the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexal Line was a whole-day session with existing volunteers including one who was a social worker, then several shifts working with a current member.
NilsClausson writes: One of the first things GAE did was set up the Gay Line. I was one of the original volunteers in 1972 and 1973, along with TommyBurns, DavidGray, EdSlade, JimDeYoung, AnneFulton and one or two others whose names have disappeared into the mists of time. We were trained by DianeWarren, who was on the board of GaeGala (as vice-chair, I think; she later became chair). Diane was a volunteer on the City of Halifax's Help Line (so was DavidGray as I recall) and so she provided the training.
EmeraldGibson writes: I was phone line director GAE AGM in 1979 until 1981 when Gary West took over midway through the year. It was during my tenure that the training changed and a manual was developed for the volunteers. The location never seemed to be kept as a secret somehow some way someone always found out and the security of the volunteers was always at risk. I did during my term advertise the line and made inquiries about advertising. I sent an inquiry to a base newspaper in CFB Greenwood about rates and ask what they would charge to publish it got mail back a few weeks later with a copy of the add and an invoice of $5, call after this made a dramtic increase into the line but so did the crank calls.
DanielMacKay writes: I was with the Gayline for about 10 years, from the mid-eighties until its demise, working one or two 3-hour Thursday-night shifts per month. On a busy night you could expect a half dozen calls. The smattering of homophobic calls which made your life interesting - it was a real challenge to make the 'phobes realize you were a real person, and give them some information about being gay. Of course we know that a lot of these gay "bashers" were curious so turning around that kind of call was really rewarding. More than 50% of the calls were people wanting to know where the CruisingAreas were, tourists interested in the baths and GayBars, etc. Starting in the '80s we gave out SaferSex information along with these directions. A small number of calls were actual counselling calls and they were really rewarding. Although we were trained for it, suicide calls were very rare -- in discussion with the other workers, in the almost quarter century of operation we only ever got one.
In its last incarnation, the phone was located in the basement of Studio and since I had arranged for moving it there, the bills came to me; there was an informal sponsorship deal with the owner of Studio to pay for it, but the relaying of the bills didn't work very well and when the GayLine wound down I had a couple hundred dollars to pay. The bill says we had phone number 423-7129.
One longtime volunteer says, "MOST of the calls were for the three B's - Bars, Baths, and Bushes."
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What happened to the Gayline? Hmmm. I think mainly
This page is part of the HistoryProject.
Maybe it's time for a new GayLine in Halifax, it would be great to go along with Pride.'
Is there a need to bring back the Gayline and why?
There was an attempt to revive the Gay Line in 1998? by Jody Gurholt and some others. Training was done, but I don't believe it went any further then this.
Ron writes: I was involved in discussions and meetings both (at different times) with the Help Line and B-GLAD (to partner) to bring the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Line back, but volunteers, location and funding are always the issue - funding being the most difficult.