Category Archives: Gay history

@yycgayhistory colouring contest!

Kevin Allen was given the great honour of being part of this year’s International Day of Pink Colouring Book which is free to download here: https://www.dayofpink.org/en/resources. 🌈🙏✨ 

Kevin International Day of Pink Portrait

This is the 4th edition of the popular e-book and was launched earlier in June for Pride Month. In the first two hours it was available it was downloaded 4500 times!

International Day of Pink writes:  “Celebrate pride through learning and art—learn about 2SLGBTQIA+ folks who are advocating for human rights, sharing our stories, advancing our culture through art, fighting for trans & non-binary inclusion, and healing through Two-Spirit teachings.”
 

The 4th edition features: Lucas Silveira, Baby Bel Bel, Dayna Danger, Fay Slift, T’áncháy Redvers, Kimahli Powell, Susan Gapka, Gia Irina Brunetti-Provenzano, Kevin Allen, Ma-Nee Chacaby, Ryan G. Hinds, and Laureenblu Waters Istchii Nickamoon.

international day of pink 4th editionTo help celebrate we are hosting a colouring contest. The prize will be a free copy of Our Past Matters, which we will mail to the winner. To win the book, colour any one of the portraits in the 4th edition and email us a picture of your handiwork by the end of June. We will randomly draw one of the portraits as a winner. Get colouring and happy pride!
 
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The Pisces Bathhouse Raid @ 40

We just passed the 40th anniversary of the Pisces Bathhouse Raid in Edmonton on May 30, 1981.

Queer historian and esteemed colleague, Darrin Hagen, has plumbed this history extensively. For the anniversary, he has written a five-part series for the Edmonton City as Museum Project and produced a video titled: PISCES for Theatre Network.

Court Sketch
Court sketch. Image courtesy of Darrin Hagen.

PISCES reveals some never-before seen details of the undercover investigation, the actual raid, and the aftermath of the largest mass arrest in Edmonton’s history. These actual documents are read by young members of Edmonton’s Queer arts community. It also feature first-hand recollections from one of the only men arrested that night to ever speak on the record about the raid, Edmonton Queer icon Michael Phair.” —TheatreNetwork.ca

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Front page news that summer in the Body Politic

One of the most striking details in the sting operation was how methodical and intense it was. In February 1981, the Edmonton Police Service started sending pairs of young undercover police detectives to pose as members of the Pisces Spa. In total, there were nine officers who spent weekend nights mingling, watching, and making copious, detailed notes concerning the activities of the men who gathered there for the purpose of sex.

Darrin’s work is riveting and recounts an important flashpoint in our human rights struggle in Alberta. Looking for a Calgary connection, Darrin told us: “so far we have not discovered any Calgarians in the list of found-ins but after a year, we still don’t have all the names. Navigating the process or getting info is a whole separate story, and it’s far from over.”

Queer history fades without champions; we thank Darrin for this consequential work.

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Lois Szabo Commons

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced Monday the creation of a new park in the Beltline: the Lois Szabo Commons. Lois is well known to many in the LGBTQ2 community as a tireless volunteer and one of the founders of Calgary’s early gay institution, Club Carousel, in 1970.

The park was one of six newly named parks in celebration of Calgary’s 125th anniversary. One Voice Chorus’ Jasmine Ing coordinated Lois’ nomination with support from Kevin Allen and the Calgary Gay History Project.

Lois in the Club Carousel space in 2019: Source: Global News

Lois watched the announcement on a livestream of the City Council meeting and was very moved. She said: “I’m really pleased—and not just for me—but for the recognition of the entire community. It’s great we can have a park to sit in and be recognized; it does my heart good. I’m sorry some of the other Club members are not around to share this, particularly Jack.* It’s a community park; it’s not just about me!”

In the nomination package, we wrote:

“For more than 50 years, Lois has been a leader and organizer of Calgary’s LGBTQ2 community. Lois is the last surviving founder of Club Carousel – Calgary’s first gay club, incorporated in March 1970 – despite Calgary Police opposition. She was one of five individuals who dared to sign the club’s incorporation papers when homophobia and discrimination were the norms in Calgary, and few would sign on the dotted line.

Lois at Club Carousel in 1972 with a little pomp!

She also rolled up her sleeves and became the Club’s most dedicated volunteer. Lois was instrumental in organizing expanded Club programming including, camping trips, motorcycle rides, holiday capers, and more. Furthermore, the Club saved people’s lives by creating the City’s first truly safe space. Lois leant a sympathetic ear to LGBTQ2 Calgarians in distress—likely averting many suicides—pushing back against the tide of our community’s despair. The Club became the locus of early gay rights activism in Calgary. Moreover, it seeded sister clubs in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg, creating a regional human rights network.

Since 1970, Lois has maintained connections to and volunteered for dozens of LGBTQ2 organizations. Even in her 80s, she shows up to most community events today and is well known to many; she is proud to share our community’s history. Lois was given the 2015 Chinook Fund Hero Award and was the 2017 Calgary Pride Parade Grand Marshall—recognition well deserved.”

The Lois Szabo Commons is under construction and will be completed later this summer at the corner of 9 St and 16 Ave SW in the Beltline.

The Lois Szabo Commons under construction

Congratulations Lois!

*Jack Loenen was another Club Carousel founder and volunteer who is now deceased. In 1976, Jack also helped found Calgary’s oldest extant gay organization, the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch.

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