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.
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.
Thanks to everyone who attended Kevin’s reading of Our Past Matters at Shelf Life Books last Saturday. As the event started a deluge broke over the Beltline and drowned Pride in the Park which also cancelled the scheduled Gay History Walk that afternoon.
We will try again this Saturday, September 3rd for a gay history walk through the Beltline. The weather forecast looks fine! The walk begins at 2:00 PM in Central Memorial Park (meet at the Boer War Memorial in the centre of the park) and ends at 3:30 PM at Lois Szabo Commons, a new city park celebrating LGBTQ2 history. Learn about the City’s fascinating queer past.
Spaces are limited; please register in advance through Calgary Pride or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org and write in the subject line “history walk.” Free event.
There is an unsung hero of the Calgary Gay History Project. His name is Gordon Sombrowski and he is married to research lead Kevin Allen. Consequently, he volunteers (or is “voluntold”) when asked to help out. This short list of tasks includes carrying the microphone on gay history walks, schlepping books, fulfilling book orders, and staffing the history booth at the Calgary Pride Festival—he’ll be there again in 2022. Fortunately, he is an enthusiastic queer history participant. But meanwhile, in the background, he has been creating his own legacy in Calgary.
Join Gordon for a pride week reading from his latest collection of short stories, What Narcissus Saw, on Sept. 1 at Shelf Life Books. Last month, What Narcissus Saw became a finalist for the 2022 Whistler Independent Book Awards. His delightful tales take place in Fernie, BC, Gordon’s hometown, and include several LGBTQ2 characters—people whom you’d swear you know. Although he likes to remind us that “all characters are fictional and events like those told in these tales happen every day and everywhere.”
Gordon is an active community volunteer. He is a founder and current volunteer for the Calgary Chinook Fund, which supports charitable organizations providing services, programming, and education, for and about the LGBTQ2 community.
Gordon is a past-president of the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Association (GLCSA), now Calgary Outlink and was the founding president of Fairy Tales Presentation Society, now Calgary Queer Arts Society, when it became its own society separate from the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF) in 2004.
Thank you, Gordon, for all that you do for Calgary’s LGBTQ2 community, and good luck at the Whistler Independent Book Awards ceremony in October. And Happy Pride!