Some Calgary Gay History Project readers might know that historian Kevin Allen has a Fernie connection and helped found a film festival there many years ago. The Reel Canadian Film Festival‘s focus is on Canadian filmmakers and runs January 28-30, 2022; it is completely online due to the pandemic. Tickets for the festival are available to viewers in Alberta and BC—this year’s festival has both queer and Calgary content.
In a full-circle way, Kevin’s latest film collaboration with director Laura O’Grady, Undetectable, is one of the featured documentaries at the Reel Canadian Film Fest. Undetectable, a films about HIV/AIDS in Canada launched last fall at the Calgary International Film Festival and has been garnishing praise and festival attention.
Film synopsis: Canada has the solution to end HIV infections and stop the world-wide AIDS epidemic. So why are people still dying of AIDS? The TELUS Original documentary Undetectable looks at the history, breaks down the roadblocks, and exposes the gatekeepers that have stopped the world from becoming HIV/AIDS free.
The festival is also featuring Dawn, her Dad and The Tractor by East Cost writer/director Shelley Thompson.
Film synopsis: When two adult siblings return to their family home in Nova Scotia for their mother’s funeral, the family and community not only have to deal with their mother’s loss, but with estranged son Donald’s transition to Dawn. Still mechanically gifted, Dawn reconnects with her Dad by repairing an old family tractor. This movie features a stunning performance by trans actress Maya Henry.
Two other feature films were shot in Calgary: Here & After and Jonesin’—support local filmmakers! Change the channel on your regular TV viewing and drop into the 14th Annual Reel Canadian Film Festival. You will be delighted.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Calgary Gay History Project. Phew, it feels like we have done a lot, but we couldn’t have done it without ongoing community support and encouragement—thank you!
The Project is powered by volunteers who do this research off the side of their desks. Consequently, I’m happy to introduce a new research volunteer, Sheldon Cannon, who is exploring the history of the Goliath’s Bathhouse raid in Calgary.
The raid is also having an anniversary—it’s been 20 years—and Sheldon will be writing a series of blog posts to explore the raid’s impact on the city’s queer history. In addition to archival research, Sheldon is interviewing people who were present during the raid and community members who have memories of the event to share. Covid-willing, we hope to have a public presentation about the raid sometime this year.
Sheldon is a medical student with a background in science and an interest in history, politics, and anthropology. Raised in rural Saskatchewan and having completed his BSc in Physiology at the University of Alberta, he is a prairie boy through and through. Having dipped his toe into history as a teenager on his local museum board, it was a workshop with Edmonton’s premiere queer historian Darrin Hagen that got him interested in gay history specifically. He discovered the Calgary Gay History Project through their video on Everett Klippert after finding out Everett was born in Sheldon’s hometown. Sheldon’s project on the 2002 Goliath’s Bathhouse raid seeks to explore our community’s ever-changing relationship with police and how physical spaces (or lack thereof) impact gay life. Outside of history, Sheldon also assists in medical research and endeavours to develop his artistic side as a beginner dancer and acrobat.
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.