Bucking Conservatism Wins Award

At this month’s Alberta Book Publishing gala, Bucking Conservatism: Alternative Stories of Alberta from the 1960s and 1970s was awarded the Regional Book of the Year prize. Calgary Gay History Project researchers Nevena Ivanović and Kevin Allen contributed a chapter to the book with editor Larry Hannant called, “Gay Liberation in Conservative Calgary.”

About the Editors

Leon Crane Bear is Siksika and a treaty Indian, as well as a graduate of the University of Lethbridge. Larry Hannant is a Canadian historian specializing in twentieth-century political dissent. Karissa Robyn Patton is a historian of gender, sexuality, health, and activism, and is a Canada Research Chair postdoctoral fellow at Vancouver Island University.


[A] beautiful mosaic of activist history for many reasons. It’s an intersectional collection that takes for granted the links between social justice struggles. It’s well-written, well-organized and insightful. [. . .] Groups embarking on future projects will benefit from the robust list of references that marks each piece. [. . .] Bucking Conservatism offers a blueprint, a model, for others who want to continue this work, in whatever time period.

—Joe Kadi, Alberta Views

With such a breadth of subjects, there really is something for every reader in the book. This is a book I can imagine picking up off the shelf again and again and looking at for ideas and inspiration.

—Belinda Crowson, Canadian Journal of History

Congratulations, Leon, Larry and Karissa! We’re very pleased for you. Thank you for the invitation to participate.


Len & Cub: Book Review

While on holiday this year, I was pinged by Calgary playwright Natalie Meisner about a book that had just come out, about a rural gay couple living in New Brunswick—more than 100 years ago. Meisner, originally from the Maritimes, explained, “I just found this [story] so lovely, uplifting….” That is how Len & Cub: A Queer History ended up on my books-to-read list.

Through an amazing find in the New Brunswick archives, authors Meredith J. Batt and Dusty Green delve into the lives of Leonard Keith and Joseph “Cub” Coates and their long-term relationship in the early 20th century. Len, an amateur photographer, created a photo documentary of his life with Cub. The images show a striking intimacy, and authors Batt and Green start with the refreshing premise that Len and Cub are in a relationship. This queer lens informs the incredible detective work that follows. Through assiduous research, the authors uncover many more details about the men, their families, and their life events. Impressively, Batt and Green are frank about what they cannot know but still weave a tapestry of their subjects’ lived experience in relatively unknown terrain for queer studies.

The book is beautifully designed with archival photos of Len and Cub given pride of place. Batt and Green write intelligently and accessibly about their subjects. The text struggles with the lives of Len and Cub gracefully and avoids presentism—the impulse to judge the past by present-day standards. However, the authors reflect on how this old story connects to contemporary queer life in New Brunswick, including what Len and Cub mean to them personally.

Many queer historians are acutely aware of how sexual and gender identity concepts have changed over time. Len and Cub were secretive about their love, but this was largely divorced from politics. The men would never have had a sense of being part of an equity seeking minority community. For modern-day queers, it’s hard to imagine what that would be like.

I enjoyed this book immensely and was delighted to learn that Batt and Green have also founded the Queer Heritage Initiative of New Brunswick. This archival and educational initiative will collect further queer histories of 2SLGBTQ+ people; I hope that means future books from these authors.

One can find Len & Cub in stock at Pages on Kensington or Shelf Life Books in Calgary. Support local independent books stores!


Francheska, Prairie Queen

{This is a post by Calgary Gay History Project Volunteer and Film Producer, Rosman Valencia, in advance of the premiere screening of Snapshot Studio’s Francheska, Prairie Queen at the Calgary International Film Festival on September 23rd, 7:30 pm, at Eau Claire Cinema. There is a second screening September 25th 1:00 pm, at the Globe Cinema. Online screenings are also available.}

It is known that in the pre-colonial Philippines, the non-binary folks were revered to be leaders and important members of society. Unfortunately, their stories have been silenced, removed, and prejudiced by the colonizers. The narrative against the community still proliferates even today all across and outside the archipelago.

However, the community did not die. The community planted themselves and grew strong roots. In fact, in Canada, it cannot be denied that the thriving communities of resilient FilipinX LGBTQ2S+ exist and flourish. They are our neighbours, friends, and our families members that are serving to shape our communities for the better despite facing numerous challenges as People of Colour. These FilipinX LGBTQ2S+ folks possess the power of their intersectional identities to engage, connect, and amplify the voices of their community that have long been silenced and ignored.

The documentary, Francheska: Prairie Queen confirms the intersectional power of being a FilipinX LGBTQ2S+ and explores the strengths and struggles of Francis (Kiko) Yutrago who is an emerging drag sensation that hails from Stirling, Alberta—considered to be in the bible belt of the province. Additionally, this film also shows that The “Art of Drag” is being reborn in the Filipin/o/a/x community. As time goes by, this art becomes a staple taste not only for entertainment but also becomes a vessel of messaging on relevant social issues.

The film successfully illustrates the motivation of a FilipinX LGBTQ+ healthcare worker and immigrant (Francis (Kiko) Yutrago) to improve the lives of their transnational family in the Philippines while pursuing their dream of becoming a drag superstar and an as a BIPOC activist that promotes gender equality and representation through drag and pageantry. Identities and intersections can be complicated—and that complexity makes them beautiful, intricate, and powerful.