The National Trust for Canada is holding its annual conference in Toronto. It starts today, and its title is: The Heritage Reset: Making Critical Choices.
The conference is asking this question: “as the urgency increases to advance decolonization and anti-racism, take bold climate action, and redress economic and social inequity, are heritage principles and heritage places in step, or stuck in the past?”
Specifically relevant to queer history, they are exploring the idea of a social-cultural reset. How can the heritage community embrace a fuller story and confront exclusion?
It’s a good question. Locally, has Calgary’s heritage community done enough to protect queer historic places and spaces in the city? The answer of course, from our perspective, is “no.”
To be fair, the City of Calgary created Lois Szabo Commons last year, and the Lougheed House did queer history programming in 2019. But where are our protected buildings, heritage plaques and interpretations of queer history sites? How do we make our relatively invisible queer history visible?
Earlier this year, the National Trust hosted a webinar on this very subject with Andrew Dolkart from the inspiring NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. We encourage you to watch it.
In the next year, this will be a thrust of the Calgary Gay History Project. To date, we have been active in building the Calgary queer landscape through mapping projects and walking tours. It is time to agitate for queer inclusion in Calgary’s built heritage inventory.