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Safe Spaces

The Bath House


"A look into Goliath's Saunatel located in the historic Model Milk building
on 17th Avenue in Calgary, AB.  The Model Milk building has been a safe hub for the queer community since the late 1960's with 2SLBGTQIA+ venues such as Jay's Bathhouse, Dick's, Arena, Big Chief, 310, The Loading Dock, The Empire, Detours and Victoria's Restaurant.  In 1987 Jay's Bathhouse had become dilapidated to the point of the building possibly being condemned. At the time the landlord approached Ed Southern and Darrell Zakreski, owners of a gay bar and bathhouse in the Beltline called the Warehouse and David's Bathhouse, to see if they would be interested in rehabilitating the space and opening a new bathhouse.  The then mayor of Calgary also supported this
idea as legend has it, because Calgary would need 'a place for the European's coming into the city for the Olympics to go'.  The space was renovated and re-opened as Goliath's Saunatel with the approval of the City of Calgary and Alberta Health services understanding that a safe space for gay men who were at risk for sexual exploitation, social condemnation, violence and threats to their life and livelihood was needed in Calgary.  Over the years not only did Goliath's provide a safe space for Men, it supported many 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations like Aids Calgary, Pride Calgary, AGRA, The SHARP foundation, The Matthew Sheppard Foundation, The I.S.S.C.A. and many others.
Unfortunately in 2002 the Calgary Police Service started an investigation
based on two anonymous complaints that Goliath's was allowing and promoting drug use and allowing prostitution to occur in the space.  The Vice unit investigated the complaints and found no evidence of drugs or prostitution in the space, however they witnessed a man touching himself under his towel and another man touching himself and another man under their towel.  They felt this warranted raiding the business, arresting all patrons and charging them with occupying a bawdy House, and arresting two minimum wage staff members, the general manager and the owners with operating a bawdy house. (A bawdy was defined as a space where prostitutes are supplied or illicit
sexual behavior occurs).  Not only did this temporarily cause the shut down of the business, they attempted to make the shut down permanent by also sending in city inspectors, the fire department, and Alberta Health Services to find any infractions that could close the business permanently, however no infractions were found.  Months later the Crown Prosecutor dropped the charges laid against the staff and owners as they no longer believed their evidence would hold up court.  But the damage was already done.  Their actions caused a fraction in the community, and took away patron's trust that Goliath's was a safe space to visit.  However Goliath's found a way to continue.  In 2018 the CPS issued an apology to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community at large for their actions in the past and did mention the Raid on Goliath's in
the apology, however this was a talking head moment and they did nothing to specifically address the damage they did to Goliath's.  In 2022 20 years to the day after the raid took place the CPS offered a proper apology after engaging with the business and community members to understand the damage they did and what they needed to do moving forward to work in cooperation with sex positive spaces that are unique to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Goliath's continues on to this day provided a safe, sex positive space for M2M seeking individuals that unfortunately is still needed and will continue to grow and adapt to the changing needs of the community for the foreseeable future."

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