Our Past Mattershas had another stellar year. It is now a textbook in two University of Calgary courses—one in Social Work, the other in Gender & Sexuality Studies—despite not being an academic read! The Our Past Mattersebook also had a short run as an Amazon #1 Best Seller in its category.
Readers note: this is our last post for the calendar year. Thank you for your ongoing support and enthusiasm for local queer history. Consider these books as our good read recommendations for this holiday season. If you enjoy them, leave reviews on sites such as GoodReads and Amazon for other readers to discover.
Wordfest kindly asked Calgary Gay History Project’s Kevin Allen to participate in their Community Book List series. The task was to come up with a list of 20 books that were meaningful to him. It proved challenging to limit the list to only 20! So, he chose his favourite theme—queer history!
Kevin writes: ““One can learn a lot from reading historical queer fiction to see how the LGBTQ2S community has evolved over the decades. This list includes some of the most celebrated, award-winning novels from our community, plus a few of my fan favourites. On this list, I have included some Calgarian authors as well as a couple of non-fiction historical surveys—one Canadian, one American—for those looking for an accessible and comprehensive understanding of our human rights struggles. I can read any of these books over and over and over; they have a special place on my bookshelf.”
Wordfest cleverly has included links to where readers can find the books (or e-books), through the Calgary Public Library as well as local independent bookstores. As we approach the season of Calgary Pride, consider a read from Kevin’s curated list.
Gordon Sombrowski is an acclaimed short-story writer. He is also the significant other of Kevin Allen, the Research Lead of the Calgary Gay History Project. Gordon recently wrote a narrative piece about the current pandemic, called The Apple Tree, that reflects on Calgary’s AIDS history. Just as AIDS had a powerful effect on gay male sexual behaviour, he muses that Covid-19 might change us as well – he says: “all pandemics leave scars.”
Georgie looks out the window and plans his day. His Covid day. That is what he calls each day, Covid day one, Covid day two, now it is Covid day fifty-three. Every day so much like the next: breakfast, lunch, dinner, a walk down to the river, a walk around in the town park, a walk along the empty streets. All of it alone. Everyday Georgie is alone, but for the one day a week he drives to the grocery store, early when no one is there, he buys his groceries, his mask in place. But Georgie is not really alone. He has the internet.
Tom is the best of his many acquaintances, and he spends time online with them and Tom and with a bunch of the gang at work. He has organized to have a drink or dinner with Tom once or twice a week, and he always has drinks with his colleagues on Fridays, otherwise casual drinks or coffee with his other acquaintances all mediated by the computer screen.
Georgie has become an expert at internet socializing. He has discovered that he likes internet socializing, it is safe, and fills his need for company. It has not escaped his notice that this internet socializing, looking at a screen to see an image that is like the person, but is not the person, is a lot like pornography.