Tag Archives: bisexual

YYCGayHistory @CalgaryPride 2022

A big thank you to all of the Calgary Gay History Project readers who filled out our survey for queer history offerings at Calgary Pride this year (August 26 – September 5). Here is where you will find us:

Saturday, August 27, 2 PM

Join Shelf Life Books and Kevin Allen for a talk about his book Our Past Matters: Stories of Gay Calgary. The talk will be followed by an open mic, where audience members can share their stories of Gay Calgary or read poems or prose pieces (with a 6-8 minute time slot limit). If you identify as a part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and would like to participate, then please let us know at events@shelflifebooks.ca! You can also sign up before the event, space permitted. Registration for audience attendance is recommended and appreciated! Free event.

Saturday, August 27, 4 PM

The Calgary Gay History Project’s Kevin Allen will lead a gay history walk through the Beltline. Learn about the City’s fascinating LGBTQ2 past. The walk begins at 4:00 PM in Central Memorial Park (meet at the Boer War Memorial in the centre of the park) and ends at 5:30 PM at Lois Szabo Commons, a new city park celebrating LGBTQ2 history. Spaces are limited; please register in advance through Calgary Pride. Free event.

Friday, September 2, 7 PM

Our friends at The Calgary Institute for the Humanities presents the 4th Annual LGTBQ2S+ Lecture, featuring Dr. Jules Gill-Peterson. Titled: Trans Panic: A Global History, Dr. Gill-Peterson explores the history of violence against trans women. Where did it come from? And when did it arise? Letting go of a purely psychological lens, history shows that targeting trans femininity has been integral to colonial statecraft around the world for the past 150 years. On Zoom or in person at the Central Library. Reserve your spot: here. Free event.

Sunday, September 4, Noon

Our History Booth at the Calgary Pride Festival—Immediately following the Pride Parade on September 4, join us at Pride’s new festival venue – Fort Calgary. At our table there will be history artifacts, books, and ephemera as well as Project volunteers to answer questions and have conversations about Calgary’s Queer History. Sponsored by Calgary Pride. Free event. Stop by and say, “hi!” Happy Pride!

{KA}

Corporate Bigotry & Silver Linings

Valbella Gourmet Foods’ self-immolating email got us thinking about corporate cultures and their historical impacts on the LGBTQ2 community. In the short-term, flammable corporate moments—like Valbella’s—lead to concerted damage control and reputation management. On the other hand, the Canmore Pride society, the scorched recipient of the email, has felt an outspoken (but perhaps transitory) lift in community support.

Occasionally, corporate homophobia and transphobia can lead to significant organizational change and have positive after-effects.

The Family of Man statue in front of the Delta Bow Valley Hotel in Calgary 

In this vein, the catalyst for the formation of the Calgary Lesbian and Gay Political Action Guild (CLAGPAG) came out of an act of discrimination. In 1988, the Delta Bow Valley Hotel cancelled a gay community fundraising dinner when they realized the booking was for a gay group. A similar media firestorm ensued: but before the internet, this meant sensational newspaper and television coverage. The apology from Delta corporate headquarters in Toronto included a cash donation. This payoff became seed money for CLAGPAG, who later started Calgary’s annual Pride Parade and did critical social justice work in our city.

At Imperial Oil, a gay chemical engineer named David Mitges, who had been working for the company since 1980, started attending his company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in 1993. For eight sequential years, he asked Imperial to offer same-sex benefits, despite the booing and harassment from the audience present. The national press described Mitges’ protracted tussle as “David vs. the Energy Goliath.” Finally, in 2000, Imperial capitulated and began offering same-sex benefits, which by that time had become more normative in corporate culture.

For historians, it will be useful to revisit Valbella Gourmet Foods and the Canmore Pride Society in 2032 to record what happened in the intervening decade.

{KA}

Hugh Dempsey (1929-2022)

The Celebration of Life service was held this week at Fort Calgary for Alberta Historian Hugh Dempsey. His contribution to local history is inestimable but the Calgary Gay History Project would like to reflect on a personal connection.

Hugh Dempsey in 2016. PHOTO BY CHRISTINA RYAN /Calgary Herald

Thirty years ago this autumn, I {Kevin} took a University of Calgary class, from Professor Dempsey: Canadian Studies 311, Indians of the Canadian Plains: an interdisciplinary approach. In 1992, Dr. Dempsey was recently retired from the Glenbow Museum, and his reputation was impressive.

The class really stuck with me; in fact, it was the only history course I took in my degree program. My term paper was about homosexuality in Plains Indian culture. I remember being very nervous about working on the topic because of taboos at the time, but Dr. Dempsey was unfailingly polite and supportive. He gave great feedback too; it turned out he knew a lot about the subject.

In 2020, I wrote to him as editor of Alberta History magazine (which he edited for more than 60 years!) and sent him a copy of my book, Our Past Matters.

I explained, “It wasn’t until I was 40 that I discovered a deep interest in history—almost by accident—and it has become a significant part of my life. I was just one of your many students, but I wanted to let you know that it was your class which planted a seed and eventually culminated in this book.”

He then dutifully read my book, and reviewed it in the next issue of the magazine. I was so pleased.

One never fully knows the ripples we cause in other people’s lives. I am very thankful that Dr. Dempsey affected mine.

{KA}