Author Archives: calgarygayhistory

Keyboard Fantasies @CUFF

The 18th Annual Calgary Underground Film Festival opens tomorrow. Movie-lovers will be able to stream the bulk of films over ten days from April 23rd-May 2nd followed by three days of drive-ins from June 3rd-5th, 2021. CUFF is featuring a queer history documentary that Calgary Gay History fans might want to note: Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story.

This film, this artist, this music, this story: all rare gems…see this film.”

—Film Threat

Keyboard Fantasies is about Glenn Copeland, a black transgender musician, who emerges from years of isolation to find a dedicated and enthusiastic audience. Attending McGill University in the 1960s as one of the only black students, and one of the only gay students, Beverly Glenn-Copeland was a gentle trailblazer out of sheer necessity. 

Later, in 1986, Glenn-Copeland was sci-fi obsessed and living in isolation in Huntsville, Ontario. Glenn wrote and self-released “Keyboard Fantasies.” The album was recorded in an Atari-powered home-studio; the cassette featured seven tracks of a curious folk-electronica hybrid, a sound realized far before its time. Three decades on, the musician—now Glenn Copeland—began to receive emails from people across the world, thanking him for the music they’d recently discovered. Courtesy of a rare-record collector in Japan, Glenn’s music finally finds its audience in the 21st Century. Debut feature film director, Posy Dixon, one of these fans, developed a close friendship with Glenn over Skype. The film is a love letter to the album and the artist.

Keyboard Fantasies won an Audience Favourite Award at HotDocs 2020 and will be streamed on-demand as part of CUFF from April 23rd-May 2nd (Alberta audiences only).

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Rocky Mountain Singers—Remembered

On Monday, April 19th at 7:30 PM, join the Calgary Gay History Project’s Kevin Allen (and guests) as we explore the history of Calgary’s first lesbian and gay chorus, the Rocky Mountain Singers. This remembering event has been commissioned by One Voice Chorus as part of its new online programming series, OVC Talks: A Rainbow of Ideas.

The Rocky Mountain Singers (RMS), 1989-2002, became an important focus of artistic expression in Calgary’s LGBTQ2 community. In interviews with Kevin, past choristers expressed very fond and cherished memories of RMS. The chorus actively built and strengthened the LGBTQ2 community in Calgary and through their participation choristers created enduring friendships that have lasted into the present.

Rocky Mountain Singers at the international GALA Choral Festival in Tampa, Florida (1996)

RMS had a well-known public presence and performed regularly; they were musical ambassadors for many gay community organizations including Calgary Pride. The chorus participated actively in the growing gay choral movement of the 1990s and represented both Calgary and Canada at national and international festivals. RMS paved the way for future LGBTQ2 choral organizations in the city, including the contemporary Calgary Men’s Chorus and One Voice Chorus.

The first public mention of RMS in Modern Pink, September 1989

Join us Monday, for an hour of conversation, archival footage, images and song, as we remember this historic and noteworthy organization. This event is free to attend. Be sure to RSVP through One Voice Chorus to receive a zoom link to join on April 19th. #OurPastMatters

Former alto Nicole Frandsen’s RMS pin.

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Who made you an authority?

History can be problematic. Kevin explores these issues in an essay composed for the Lougheed House. The House is a National Historic Site and Museum which is undergoing a process of reimagining its programming and permanent exhibitions.

Kevin Allen at Lougheed House from a 2018 article in Star Metro

The Lougheed House is a Calgary gay history site as well, being the former location of the notorious Fruit Loop—Calgary’s gay prostitution stroll.

Read Kevin’s essay, here. “What you ‘know’ today might be different tomorrow. The truth can be a moving target.”

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