Pride Wrap with Princesses

We talked to hundreds of people at last Sunday’s Pride Festival at Fort Calgary. Thank you, everyone, for the insightful questions, oral history tidbits, and sharing. For example, we learned about a former gay bar on Macleod Trail that we never knew existed (a future blog post…).

Two notable visitors to the history booth were this year’s Calgary Stampede Princesses, Sikapinakii Low Horn and Jenna Peters. They were enthusiastic to be participating in Calgary Pride. We also saw them, waving to the crowds, on an impressive float in the Pride Parade. The Calgary Stampede has been formally participating in Pride since 2017.

The Calgary Stampede Princesses visit the Calgary Gay History Project’s Kevin Allen. Jenna Peters (left) and Sikapinakii Low Horn (right).

Meeting the Princesses made us think how the pageantry of the Calgary Stampede and Calgary Pride are similar. Both have famously well-attended parades (now on the same route) with many participants dressing up in a particular fashion (cowboy-drag vs. drag-drag).

Fabulously, which two communities have such a strong connection to royalty protocols?

The Calgary Stampede anointed their first monarch in 1946, Stampede Queen Patsy Rogers.

Our own royal society, the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch, is the longest running queer organization in the city. Their first coronation ball, held in January 1977, crowned Calgary’s first Empress Veronica Dawn and first Emperor Jack Loewen. 

Both royal societies have a robust tradition of fundraising and being ambassadors for their respective Calgary communities. Good work we can celebrate and particularly resonant this week with the passing of our national monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.


16 responses to “Pride Wrap with Princesses

  1. Do you know if The Imperial Court of The Chinook Arch is holding a fund raising Ball this Year?

    I really enjoyed this Years Pride Activities ,Still resting up. I definitely walked my 1000 steps + everyday. Sumi & Helpers did a great Job. My appreciation & Heart goes out to them for such a fantastic Week. Hugs, Lois

  2. Looking forward to your future post about the gay bar on Macleod. It was one of the first I went to, the same year Mork and Flo were Emperor and Empress. Can’t remember the name but it was fun. Thanks for reminding me 👍

  3. Kevin, you look so wonderful among the beautiful🌈 Trust all is well for both of you— Del

    Sent from my iPad


  4. should we like adopt a pride/monarchy? n do similar each year as the stampede does? while respecting the massive diversity of the rainbow communitree as my bestest friend calls us 😛

    • We don’t need one. We’ve had the Imperial Court to represent us from before Day one.

    • Yikes. This points to why Calgary Gay History project is so vitally important to our community and why I feel it’s time for some of us older folk to stand up again.

      Love ya, Sam but the Imperial Court is revered in our community. They are the trans folk who stood first and fought the good fight. They are the ones who protected so many of us, who entertained us with their pageantry and who made us laugh through our darkest hours. I just can’t high 5 anyone trying to replace them.

      Now can I get an amen to someone adopting Sam into their fold?

      • sabrina mein [sam starchild]

        seems like i could def, bennefit from you n others , hoping all are having a good weekend

    • Imperial Court of the Chinook Art. Connect with them at 45 years and still serving our community as the oldest gay organization still operating. All hail our Regent Empress 46 and her court!

    • Our lives are enriched by you, Sam Starchild. Btw, LOVE your adopted name! “Shine bright like a diamond”, Starchild (cue Rihanna).

  5. Great article, Kevin. Many thanks to you and Gordon for all of the amazing work you do. I can not speak for the majority of older queer folk and past activists but I will say that I am personally disgusted and angry by some things I am seeing happen at Calgary Pride. Principally, what appears to be 21% female representation at a Board level. I have written the current Board with my concerns, which also include questions about their representation of our trans community and racially marginalized communities; how it is acceptable to allow TD Bank to present the Pride Festival where we had to bear witness to an exclusive TD Bank VIP area blocking views of Pride performances and the lack of free water or cooling stations during a well forecast heat warning; how Board members are appointed; full transparency around financial disclosure in their annual reports; whether LGBTQ groups are being charged to march in the parade (Pride having run a nearly $160,000 2020 net profit in 2020 alone).

    So good to see the Stampede princesses show up! I would suggest, however, that the history of the Calgary Stampede and it’s royalty protocols differ from the history and protocols of our Imperial Court. Perhaps the Imperial Court can weigh in on that. I will weigh in as someone nominated in my youth as Miss Rodeo Royale (the cowgirls who could all actually ride a horse) and having known past Calgary Stampede Queens, some of whom could ride a horse and others we had to train. I had to forfeit my nomination because I came out in a time when nobody wanted Miss Rodeo Royale to be an open lesbian, never mind Miss Calgary Stampede. Fortunately, AGRA came along before the NYC Gay Games so I was able to return to represent it as the AGRA’s first rodeo queen with my two male princesses.

  6. Sorry to have to weigh in here on my not yet launched new website which I’m still developing. Lol, just hit the damn launch button, Mary.

  7. I would also like to see community dialogue on our ever expanding acronym and the politically correct use of pronouns.

    I refuse to use pronouns as a cis gendered lesbian and this is not to say I don’t fully support, love and stand behind and with the trans community. Just that I have a hard time using the same pronouns as all the straight chicks as I’ve spent my whole life being mistaken for a straight chick. So which PC pronouns shall I adopt given there’s a big difference between me and my straight sisters without having to disclose my sexual orientation which is nobody’s business but mine to disclose or not. I get that gender is a social construct. Being a homosexual is not. Most of us were born this way.

    I also get the need to be inclusive but, seriously, I worry that we’ve pushed things so far we may see start to see an erosion of LGBT rights as we are seeing in the US, along with the erasure of abortion rights. I recall fierce debates in Calgary as we had to decide whether to adopt the Bs and Ts into the acronym as other cities were doing. At the time, I don’t recall any visibility of transmen, only transgendered or transsexual women. And, of course, it was them who were the first to stand and were some of our fiercest, toughest advocates and protectors. I owe all of the trans women and all of my butch sisters who stood up to protect my skinny, white ass from getting raped and killed. I owe all of the drag queens who taught me how to run fast in heels because, back then, we had to run. Many of them had little choice but to stand up and fight. Others could hide; they couldn’t.

    I question the inclusion of groups like Q for “questioning”, A for “asexual”. For example, we didn’t march to defend the civil rights of folk who weren’t interested in having sex with anyone. One needs to google every new term the university think tanks come up with, almost on a daily. Now from Uof Vic (in a federally funded grant) are “Homoflexible”, “Heteroflexible” – and how is that different from Bisexual. And, really, wtf cares?

    Open dialogue and honest discussion is necessary.

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