Tag Archives: AIDS

Our History Matters

Calgary Gay History Project Researcher, Tereasa Maillie, has curated a history series to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Calgary Pride!

Beginning tomorrow, the first of ten online programs, launches. The series includes the history of LGTBQ+ newcomers in Canada, the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Calgary, and films on gay and lesbian life in ‘50s and ‘60s. On September 4th, the series will go out with a kick and a twirl: History is a Drag will feature performances by top drag artists taking a new spin on our stories and histories.

“We really need a celebration of culture, of gender, and of sexually diverse communities in 2020! So let’s challenge the histories we hold at the same time,” Tereasa explains. The series intentionally explores history from different angles, lenses, and identities.

The series is free and held online through Showpass. View the full calendar of Calgary Pride’s Learning Series workshops at https://www.calgarypride.ca/learning-series/

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Film Poster from the NFB’s groundbreaking lesbian history doc.

Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives (1992)
August 14, 7-9 pm
National Film Board – 1 hour 30 minutes with discussion to follow. A Queer film classic, Forbidden Love is a historical documentary on what was happening for Lesbians in ‘50s and ‘60s Canada. Interviews from women of all ages and cultures are interspersed with a pulp lesbian romance story. Join Natalie Meisner, Lalangi Ali, Tereasa Maillie, and Lois Szabo as they discuss the film’s impact on them personally and their understanding of Canadian history.

Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story (2018)
August 15, 7-8 pm
TELUS Originals – 17 minutes with discussion to follow. Join director Laura O’Grady, Kevin Allen, and lawyer Brian Crane to discuss Everett Klippert, the last Canadian to be jailed for homosexuality. Winner of the Calgary International Film Festival 2018 Best Alberta Short.

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Kevin Allen in a scene from the film, Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story. Photo courtesy, Spotlight Productions

AIDS in Canada: The Forgotten Pandemic
August 20, 7-8:30 pm
HIV/AIDS is still with us: More than 70 million people have been infected with HIV and about 35 million have died from AIDS since the start of the pandemic in the late 1970s. A frank and open discussion on the epidemic with survivors, medical experts, and historians of our country’s response.

Queer the Music
August 21, 7-8:30 pm
Local musicians, including Toni Vere, speak about the history of Queer music in Calgary and share their own stories. Join us for some powerful musical performances too.

Rainbow Connection: History of LGTBQ+ Newcomers in Canada
August 24, 1-3pm
Canada has been a leader in recognizing LGBTQ+ refugee claims and resettling refugees fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation and gender-based identity. Join the discussion with a panel of experts on the history of LGTBQ+ immigration and refugees to Canada.

Small Town Queer- Film Series
August 27, 7-8:30 pm

TELUS Story Hive – 2019 – Three 20 minute shorts with discussion to follow
Join us for an online screening of Laura O’Grady’s three excellent films about Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge’s Queer communities, which includes a discussion after each section about the history of small town life. Panelists include members of the Queer community from these towns.

Origins
August 28, 6-7:30 pm
An exciting discussion with the founders of Calgary Pride about the early days, the changes in our community, and how Pride has shaped our city.

Queering the Archives
September 1, 7-8:30 pm
Local historians and archivists will share stories hidden in the records and discuss the need for archives and museums to support Queer history.

Queer Art Destroys History
September 2, 7-8:30 pm
A lively panel with LGTBQ2S+ artists who tackle art, society, and history, confronting and sharing Calgary’s Pride.

History is a Drag – Performance
September 4, 7-8:30 pm
Three outstanding drag performers take a page from Calgary’s history to reinterpret it in their own way. Shane On You, Nada Nuff, and Farrah Nuff will transform your ideas on what history is with stories and songs.

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The Apple Tree – our first fiction!

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.”

Apple Tree

Here is an excerpt from The Apple Tree:

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.

Click here for the full short story.

This is the first original fiction we have published on the Calgary Gay History Project’s website; let us know what you think! Happy reading.

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HIV Community Link at 35

{The Calgary Gay History Project is presenting a series on AIDS history reflecting on how Calgarians and Canadians reacted to this earlier pandemic. This installment was written by Project researcher, Tereasa Maillie.}

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Globe and Mail excerpt from April 20, 1984

HIV Community Link has been active in the Calgary community providing support and education for over 35 years as a registered society. Its roots were in the early 1980s epidemic reaching Calgary, and little information was available to help people combat this deadly virus. Homophobia, prejudice, and discomfort around the ways HIV was transmitted blocked discussion and treatment.

In response, gay and lesbian activists first met in late 1983 to decide on a plan of action, and join together to advocate for infected people. AIDS Calgary Awareness Association was born, and according to activist Doug Young’s personal notes, the first meetings were about the legal fight for people who were HIV positive. They were not alone: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver had also started their own chapters based on the many groups that had begun in the USA.

Known as AIDS Calgary, the group registered as a society on October 9, 1985. Their first office was at #300, 1021 – 10th Avenue S.W. and staffed by a core group of volunteers under Doug Morin, the first Executive Director. Money was tight, but LGTBQ2 organizations such as the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch donated funds and held community events. In the 1990s, AIDS Calgary began hosting their own signature fundraiser called Calgary Cares. The special event included silent auctions of local fashion designers’ clothes, a stage show, and dinner. The AIDS Walk and Run started 25 years ago; it has raised approximately $1.8 million to fund the agency and its services in Calgary.

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Doug Morin – Executive Director of AIDS Calgary, Dec. 1986. Photo source: University of Calgary Digital Archives

With this help, AIDS Calgary was able to expand their outreach and advocacy, including their hotline and newsletters: Ellipse, 360 degrees, and AIDS Calgary News. Part of their advocacy work was to lobby the government to fund research, promote health programs, and help end the stigma surrounding HIV positive people in Canadian society. In two National AIDS conferences (1985 in Montreal and 1986 in Toronto), AIDS Calgary joined with other organizations to create the Canadian AIDS Society. The goal was to tap into a larger umbrella group’s powers of shared information, advocacy, and support for all members.

In 2013, AIDS Calgary Awareness Association changed their name to HIV Community Link, as they also offered programs and services in Medicine Hat and Brooks. Their focus remains “on health promotion, increasing access to testing, delivering effective harm reduction programs, and reducing the stigma associated with HIV.”

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