The room was little more than a broom closet, with a card table and two chairs and a light overhead.
"Our field investigation has determined that you are a homosexual," the special investigations officer told a shocked Andrew Currie-Beckstead, who was then a clerk working in the Department of National Defence. "How do you respond to this charge?" The year was 1984. He was 27.
Mr. Currie-Beckstead was one of thousands of Canadian public servants and members of the military who were interrogated and harassed by police and other officials because of their sexuality from the 1950s through to the late 1980s. Some lost their jobs. Others had their careers sidelined. Many just quit and moved on. The Trudeau government is considering whether to apologize to those in the public service who were persecuted because of their sexuality.
Since first writing about this issue, I have heard numerous stories, in person and via e-mail, from people who were harassed because of their sexuality while in the public service.
Typically, they worked in National Defence or Foreign Affairs. Typically, they were warned that their security clearances would be revoked, they would never be posted overseas. Typically, they were urged to pursue a different career path.
None of these people have agreed to have their stories told in public and who can blame them for wanting to keep such painful memories private?
Mr. Currie-Beckstead, however, did tell his story in 2014 to Sarah Fodey, who was preparing a documentary on the subject. Ms. Fodey is continuing to seek funding to complete the project, but has produced 11 minutes of footage, which she has given the Globe permission to reproduce. Mr. Currie-Beckstead and I also corresponded by e-mail.
The interrogator "wanted to know about my personal life, he wanted to know who my friends were," Mr. Currie-Beckstead recalls in the documentary. There were questions about his background, his education, his friends at college, people he knew in the government and at National Defence.
"He wanted to know specifics about my sex life, our sex life, and what particular sex acts that we engaged in." Mr. Currie-Beckstead had recently entered into a relationship with Sid Johnston, a co-worker at National Defence, who was also interrogated. Both men were in the process of coming out to family and friends.
Mr. Currie-Beckstead was "floored" by the questions. "You're doing this awful thing, of trying to make me feel that I'm somehow flawed, I'm somehow a potential risk, I'm somehow less than – so I felt very humiliated and very sad in a way, because I thought, 'That's kind of pathetic,'" he remembers.
Ms. Fodey also interviewed Leo Morency, a former public servant who was interrogated because of his sexuality and appears in the footage.
"After I left there I was kind of shaking," he recalled. "I said to myself, 'Why me? My God, I'm only a clerk.' "
Mr. Currie-Beckstead and Mr. Johnston were not fired. Not only did they continue to work in National Defence, they joined other couples in fighting for the right to spousal benefits, which was finally granted to federal public servants in same-sex relationships in the 1990s.
But the constant battles with their employer and with sometimes antagonistic co-workers, "took its toll on us," Mr. Currie-Beckstead said via e-mail. The two parted in 1999 after being together for 15 years. Mr. Currie-Beckstead retired from the public service in 2012. Mr. Johnston died in 2009.
Mr. Currie-Beckstead hopes the federal government apologizes for how it once treated its same-sex employees. It's time, he believes, for all Canadians to acknowledge "a corrupted, corrosive truth" about past discrimination against homosexuals in government.
In the documentary, Mr. Morency says: "Some of the gay people today don't even know that that took place. They didn't even know this happened. And I explained to them … this happened, and we were all afraid of our jobs and our way of life."
The apology, if it comes, will come too late for Mr. Morency. He died earlier this month.