2018 has been quite the year for the Calgary Gay History Project. A film. A book. A residency at the new Central Library. Thanks to Calgary readers, Our Past Matters hit the number two spot in the Calgary Herald’s best-sellers list this week.
Calgary Herald Non-Fiction Bestsellers: Dec. 22, 2018
I am truly grateful for all of the support of the History Project and the warm reception the book received. I am wishing everyone a joy-filled (and restful) holiday season and a very Happy New Year.
As a final website post for 2018, I thought I would share some images of Calgary gay history in Christmases past. It evokes for me, a line I used in the book: “We were here, and we always have been.”
- Myrt’s was a gay bar located at 808 9 Ave. SW
- Modern Pink was a publication that grew out of Lesbian and Gay Youth Calgary (LGYC)
- Clue! Magazine was published in Calgary from 1992-1995.
Posted in Gay history
Tagged bisexual, Calgary Herald, Christmas, CLUE Magazine, gay, lesbian, Modern Pink, Myrts, New Central Library, Our Past Matters, queer, transgender
It has been a momentous couple of weeks for LGBTQ2 history in Calgary, Alberta.
On July 27, 2018, the Calgary Police Service formally apologized to Calgary’s gender and sexually diverse community. In their official statement, they cited their historic opposition to Bill C-150 and said: “after the law changed our organization struggled to embrace the new direction and evolve.”
Bill C-150, of course, was the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada and a subject of our new film: Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story. The documentary short has racked up thousands of views since it launched on July 31. It also garnered some thoughtful media coverage. Thank you, everyone, for the flood of positive regard that has been filling my inbox and social media accounts.
On August 2, the Calgary Gay History Project along with Sage Theatre and playwright Natalie Meisner received a Calgary Heritage Authority Lion Award for the spring 2018 production of Legislating Love. We were very honoured.
Actors Matt McKinney & Kathy Zaborsky, Director Jason Mehmel, and Historians Kevin Allen & Tereasa Maillie accepting the Lion!
Calgary Pride is just around the corner. The Calgary Gay History Project has partnered with Calgary Outlink to present an Intergenerational Tea on Saturday, August 25 from 12:30 – 2:30 PM at Memorial Park Library, followed by a Beltline Gay History Walk from 2:30 – 4:00 PM. This event is free and part of Pride in Vic Park, a multi-generational, inclusive and educational event to celebrate Pride Week in Calgary. We are looking for a $300 donation to cover the event food (tax receipt available). Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are feeling generous.
And if you have more time than money, Calgary Pride needs to fill up their volunteer roster for their incredible ever-growing festival. You can sign up: here. All volunteers get swag!
Finally, we will have a history booth at Pride in the Park again this year on Sunday, September 2. After the parade, come over to talk to us about all things historical!
Posted in Gay history
Tagged bisexual, Calgary Herald, Calgary Outlink, Calgary Police, Calgary Pride, gay, gross indecency, lesbian, queer, Sage Theatre, transgender
In October 1991, Theatre Calgary presented a highly lauded production of playwright David Stevens’ The Sum of Us. Described as frank, funny and touching, the play explored the relationship between a widowed father and his gay son, set in a working-class suburb of Melbourne, Australia. The play first premiered in an acclaimed off-Broadway production in 1990, and Theatre Calgary was the next company to stage it after that inaugural run.
Theatre Calgary’s Sum of Us Program
Stevens said The Sum of Us, was partly autobiographical. In a Calgary Herald interview, he explained: “My mother had to come to terms with the fact that her mother was a dyke and her son is a poofter. I thought, if she could cope with that, anyone could!” For the play, however, he made the father the compassionate parent, noting that his own father was somewhat “to the right of Genghis Khan.”
Theatre Calgary (TC) secured impressive talent for their production. Gordon Pinsent played the widower Harry, and Ted Atherton, his son Jeff. Theatre director Eric Steiner was engaged to bring The Sum of Us to the Canadian stage. Steiner, who came to Calgary, via Stratford, Chicago and Toronto had worked with TC before, directing The Normal Heart in 1986, one of the first plays about AIDS ever presented in the city.
Martin Morrow, Theatre Critic for the Calgary Herald, wrote:
“Eric Steiner’s production for TC is outstanding. As well-meaning Harry, venerable Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent gives a warm, rich, endearing performance – this is surely among the best acting he’s ever done. He’s well matched by blond, boyish Ted Atherton as the likeable underachiever Jeff – the pair have a beautiful familial chemistry on stage….. As it stands, it’s one of the best shows Theatre Calgary has ever done.”
Playwright Stevens was on the record that the TC production was the finest his play had been given. And Calgary audiences liked it too; the show tripled its expected revenues at the box office. Theatre Calgary then leveraged its success to open the play in Toronto that November at the Bathurst Street Theatre for an open-ended commercial run in collaboration with independent producer David Warack.
I remember seeing the play twice in Calgary and found it very moving. “Our children are only the sum of us, what we add up to,” said a philosophical Gordon Pinsent. “How could I be ashamed of what my seed has become?”
The Sum of Us would go on to be produced by theatre companies around the world and in 1994 was made into an Australian feature film starring Russell Crowe. Sadly, after ten years battling AIDS, Canadian theatre director Eric Steiner died on June 30, 1993.
Posted in Gay history
Tagged bisexual, Calgary Herald, David Stevens, David Warack, Eric Steiner, gay, Gordon Pinsent, lesbian, Martin Morrow, Melbourne, queer, Russell Crowe, Ted Atherton, The Sum of Us, theatre, Theatre Calgary, Toronto, transgender