The Mounties Used A ‘Fruit Machine’ To Target Homosexuals

“A plant? I thought men like you were usually called a fruit.” —Miss Scarlet, Clue

In A Nutshell

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) felt homosexuals were a national security danger and used a machine dubbed a “fruit machine” to discover a person’s sexual orientation. It would measure the dilation of the subject’s pupils and their heart rate while they were shown pornographic images. Those determined to be homosexual were fired or demoted.

The Whole Bushel

While Cold War paranoia was running rampant across the world, the RCMP feared homosexuality could be used as blackmail against public service workers. In order to remedy this problem, they decided to find out who was actually homosexual. They didn’t have the resources (or the desire) to investigate every single worker, so the people they ended up investigating were rumored to be gay, usually fingered by co-workers or neighbors.

At first, the methods used by the RCMP were restricted to one-on-one interviews with the suspects because there was no scientific way to determine a person’s sexual orientation. In 1962, Professor F. Robert Wake reported on what he called a “fruit machine,” said to be able to detect homosexuality in a person. The machine, which resembled a dentist’s office chair, would detect pupil response and breath and heart rates while pornographic (and non-pornographic) images of men and women were shown on a black box at the front of the machine. The interviewee would be judged on his or her arousal and was fired if they were determined to be homosexual.

At first, those signed up for the test were falsely led to believe they were agreeing to a simple stress test. After the first few people were fired, word spread quickly, leading most to decline the invitation. Due to the dwindling number of volunteers and how difficult the machine was to operate, the fruit machine was retired in 1967. Altogether, over 9,000 people, straight and homosexual, were harassed by the RCMP and many were fired or demoted. The most famous person to be fired was John Wendell Holmes, an accomplished professor and diplomat, who later admitted to being homosexual.

Show Me The Proof

Stand Together: ‘The National Security Campaigns’
An Analysis of The Anti-Homosexual Security Campaign in the Canadian Civil Service
Canada’s Shameful Harvest of Queers in the 60s

  • inconspicuous detective

    look i get it. “gayness” is odd, weird, etc to some people and it just won’t be normal, and we have no right to force them to believe otherwise. HOWEVER, these people are still human. stop treating them like monsters or yes, you will be made to accept them. this insane story is an example of going way too far with beliefs, which again i will defend your’s, but if you start ruining lives….

    • Dylan

      And in the end you can’t judge someone for something they can’t even change haha!

      • inconspicuous detective

        i suppose you could, but then what would that say about you?

        • Dylan


      • LuvsHorror

        Sure you can. Sociopaths, pedophiles, etc.

        • Dylan

          Well if it’s not THEIR FAULT?

          What’s their choice is if they give into their immoral impulses really.

  • Chester

    hahahah lmfao this was awesome, i can totally see some pomp proper RCMP officer with a john kleese accent describing the usage of the “fruit machine”

    • Valkyrie

      Thanks, I have now got ‘I’m a lumberjack and i’m ok’ in my head ….

  • oouchan

    At least they have made up for it by leaps and bounds unlike other countries that are still killing people for being gay. Looking at the Middle East and certain parts of Africa.
    Sad how scared people are of other people.

    • LuvsHorror

      I really don’t know why it matters.

      • oouchan

        Not understanding this.

        • LuvsHorror

          I mean I don’t get why it matters to anyone whether someone is gay or straight.

          • oouchan

            Ah…true. Human is human, afterall. 🙂

    • inconspicuous detective

      scared is an odd way of looking at this issue, and sounds more like an attempt to “get back” at them in a passive way. aggressive, hateful, and misguided all work better for this type of thing.

      • oouchan

        Scared as in they don’t want them around and intergrating with what they consider as “normal”.

        • inconspicuous detective

          hmm…i’d consider that hateful and segregating as well.

          • oouchan

            Of course. That’s what they wanted. Separated from the rest.

    • Michael Van Duisen

      It wasn’t so much that the government was scared of gays; it was more they were scared of agents of the USSR blackmailing people who were gay and getting sensitive information from them.

    • Chester

      I dont think its fear, i think its the fact they dont like homo’s. People who are afraid of spiders generally dont go around persecuting or stomping on them, they tend to turn and run.

  • Timone

    It’s very scientific…

  • czxzxzccxzxzczx

    “So the people they ended up investigating were rumored to be gay, usually fingered by co-workers or neighbors.”

    well that is pretty damning evidence

    • LuvsHorror

      Witch hunt

    • Valkyrie

      Maybe their fingers were still inside them 😀

  • W357C0457

    so it worked? lol

    • Michael Van Duisen

      It didn’t necessarily work. Some homosexuals may have been outed, as were some heterosexuals, but the science behind the ‘fruit machine’ is largely regarded as bunk now.

      • W357C0457

        i dont remember exactly what i made that comment about, but reading over the article again i think the line “The most famous person to be fired was John Wendell Holmes, an
        accomplished professor and diplomat, who later admitted to being
        homosexual.” was what i was referring to.

  • Glengarry Ricky Ross

    I actually thought they were going to use fruits to catch fruits.. Or something along those lines. Good article.

  • Bethany

    Yikes.. But here we are in 2013 and gay people can get married here in Canada. We’ve come a long way. Your move, America!

  • rhijulbec

    I watched an episode of qi just a couple of days ago and Stephen Fry talked about this. I understood it measured penile enlargement and female lubrication as well. So it was a cock ring or a dildo which measured response to the erotic pictures. Perhaps eye dilation was part of it, but the measure of the man/woman is in the nether region according to the show. One of the guests wanted the job of applying said ring or dildo. Laughed like a crazy lady at that! We are a twisted lot are we Canucks!

    • Michael Van Duisen

      For men, that’s called penile plethysmography and isn’t actually what the Canadians used. (For women, it’s called vaginal photoplethysmography.)

      • rhijulbec

        I wonder where Stephen Fry or rather the producers got that erroneous information from?

  • philipmarie

    You know, this reminds me of a song. I didn’t want to be part of this fruit machine business. I always wanted to be, a lumberjack! Leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia! The giant redwood! The larch! the fir! The mighty Scotspine! The smell of fresh cut timber! The crash of mighty trees! With my best girly by my side! We’d sing, sing, sing… I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay! I sleep all night and I work all day.

    (Canadian Police) He’s a lumberjack and he’s okay!
    He sleeps all night and he works all day!

    I cut down trees, I eat my lunch, I go to the lavatory! On Wednesdays I go shopping and have buttered scones for tea.

    (CP)He cuts down trees, he eats his lunch, he goes to the lavatory!
    On Wednesdays he goes shopping, and has buttered scones for tea!
    He’s a lumberjack and he’s okay, he sleeps all night and he works all day!

    I cut down trees, I skip and jump, I like to press wildflowers. I put on women’s clothing and hang around in bars!

    (CP) He cuts down trees, he skips and jumps, he likes to press wildflowers, he puts on women’s clothing, and hangs around in bars???

    (CP) He’s a lumberjack and he’s okay, he sleeps all night and he works all day!

    I cut down trees, I wear high heels, suspenders and a bra! I wish I’d been a girlie just like my dear papa!

    (CP) He cuts down trees, he wears high heels, suspenders and a bra? Oh shut up, we’re done with this! Buzz off you dirty twat!

    My girlfriend: Waaahhhh! Philip! and I thought you were so rugged!

    Dear Sir, I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about the list which you have just published about the lumberjacks who wear women’s clothes. Many of my best friends are lumberjacks, and only a few of them are transvestites. Yours faithfully, Brigadier Sir Charles Arthur Strong (Mrs.) P.S. I have never kissed the editor of the Radio Times.”

  • Craig

    This isn’t true because it didn’t happen in healthcare-less America

  • TodosReamus

    I’ve never understood the fear of and hatred for those who are naturally attracted to members of the same sex. It really saddens me that humans can be so intolerant.

  • Bobby Flatt

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