Queer History takes a Village

We would like to thank everyone who contacts the Calgary Gay History Project with history tidbits and recollections.

Last week, Kristopher and the Edmonton Queer History Project shared this Calgary advertisement which they discovered in the May 1983 issue of Fine Print in Edmonton. David’s was a gay bathhouse that opened that summer in the building which now houses Commonwealth Bar and Stage. David’s was located in the basement and later became the Underground Pub as part of The Warehouse nightclub upstairs. Calgary had three bathhouses at the time. Anecdotally, Stampede was one of the busiest (and hottest, to borrow from their ad-copy) times of the year. Yahoo!

David’s opening announcement in 1983


Calgary Pride ’22—choose your own queer history adventure!

This year, the Calgary Pride Festival is scheduled to run August 26th – September 5th. Typically the Calgary Gay History Project does two or three events to celebrate local queer history during the fest. We had the innovative idea—before we schedule anything—to ask YYCgayhistory readers and supporters what they would like to see. We’re crowdsourcing history programming!

Fill in this free and anonymous survey to nudge us into the programming that you want to experience, now that we can gather in person again. Let us know by July 21st—your input is valuable to us.

Kevin leading a Beltline Gay History Walk 2017
Ayanna and Kevin at the Calgary Pride Festival History Booth in 2016


Gaps in recounting the past?

The cover of CLUE! Magazine: January 1993

One’s personal gay history is part of a larger gay history narrative. Having just returned this month from a long trip to Greece, where I lived in my early 20s, I’ve been combing through my personal archives to recollect my former life abroad. Fortunately, there is a written record—I volunteered for the ’90s local queer publication, CLUE! Magazine, and after I left Calgary I wrote a column called “Notes from Greece.”

Reading my 22-year-old musing does induce some cringing but the part of the column that haunts me the most is what I have forgotten. Broad strokes are remembered but a few important details have vanished over time. As someone whose research leans heavily on oral history accounts, the vacancies in my own story give me pause. Our stories have holes.

Kevin Allen: first time in the Mediterranean Sea, age 22.

Academic historians, of course, enumerate all sorts of limitations in historical research: issues of memory, subjectivity, privilege, etc. However, when your own story has gaps, you feel this limitation profoundly. Yet, I’m thankful for the written word, the fact that this column even existed, and that the magazine has been collected and preserved. I can read it 28 years later and learn something about my own gay history—a “clue” about who I was.

I’m uploading a few of the columns for interested readers—feel free to cringe! Perhaps there is a hint of a future historian in the making…


{Note: the column was handwritten, mailed to Canada as a letter, and then typed into CLUE!’s graphic design program. Email was not a widespread thing then—true story!}