After many years of being a friend of Hassle Free, Peter joined our Board in 1997. He was a successful businessman in our community. He had survived the police brutality of the 1981 Bathhouse raids that left his business in shambles, both literally and financially. Those raids resulted in the arrest of over 300 men, whose charges were later dropped. That horrendous attack against Bathhouse owners, patrons and indeed our whole city, galvanized him into activism.
After that nightmare, he fought with city bureaucrats and politicians for many years trying to obtain a permit for a new Bathhouse. It was completely legal, but the City would not approve it, clearly for no reason other than blatant homophobia. The issue was finally resolved with the intervention of Jack Layton, who got Peter his permit and set precedence for bathhouse license approvals in Toronto, free from the harassment Peter had experienced.
He was a good businessman, but even more than that he cared deeply for the community his business served. He was an amazing moral compass, who saw beyond the bottom line. He refused to put profit ahead of people and became a huge advocate for safety, education and testing in Bathhouses, which, together with the work of other activists, allowed Bathhouses in Toronto to remain open when other cities were shutting them down.
Peter also played a pivotal role in helping Hassle Free move into our current space. He found our property through a business associate and negotiated a favourable lease on our behalf.
Peter was an amazing support to staff at this clinic. He was always willing to let us bounce around concerns or ideas with him, providing excellent insight as well as a “you’ll outlast them” kind of encouragement. He trusted us completely to do our jobs, and would voice that trust to us all the time.
Of course, we remember these things, but we also remember the comedy routines he and George (Hislop) would run as our Board meetings got started, his articulate nature, and the pleasure we would have reading anything that he wrote. And write he did; letters to the editor, letters to government officials and politicians over ill-conceived policies, opinion pieces on all kinds of things including the right to privacy and human rights in general.
Peter Bochove passed away April 28, 2013. Our clinic community offers our deepest condolences to his partner, Christopher Brown, Peter’s family and many friends.