Hal Forbes’ house is across the street from the Halifax Women’s Housing Co-op, where I lived for 15 years. Hal’s house is oxblood with hunter green trim (original heritage colour, natch). The co-op building is three blocky stories of baby-blue vinyl siding.
So we would run into each other on the street. “Got any juicy gay gossip?” he would ask, and we’d lean up against his gigantic pick-up and shoot the breeze.
He often had a crew of carpenter’s assistants with him, young men apprenticing.
One day, sometime in the late ’90s, we both happened onto the street and when Hal saw me, he called over. “Come ’ere,” he said. “I got something good for you.”
The day before, one of Hal’s crews had been on the street and overheard a woman’s voice, coming from a co-op window. The voice was of a woman being led to orgasm. “The guys,” Hal said, “were frozen in place listening to that orgasm going on and on and on.” Hal laughed his big laugh. “They did not say one word,” he said, “until one piped up, and in all seriousness, said, ‘Do you think she could teach me how to do that?’”
That’s my Hal story but there are many others. Kim Robertson and her son Eric lived in the co-op and Kim says Hal took Eric to air shows, to musicals. Taught him how to tie-dye a shirt.
“Oh my god,” she says, “Hal taught Eric to see beauty.”