Tag Archives: Calgary Outlink

The OK Campaign

Calgary Outlink, our community hub, has been in Calgary in one form or another since 1975.

{The Calgary Outlink AGM is tonight and open to the public!}

In the late 1990s, the organization was called GLCSA (the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Association). In 1998 they embarked on an awareness initiative called the OK Campaign, spearheaded by a resourceful volunteer and former board member, Brian Crawford. The campaign literature explained that it “was designed to promote personal reflection specific to gay and lesbian issues in the mainstream media.” In reality it was a not-so-subtle political statement and outreach tool.

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The campaign ended up targeting 98% of Calgarians through bus, billboard and poster ads throughout the city. The campaign ran in September of 1998 and 1999, and was the first of its kind and magnitude in a Canadian city. In 1998, the World Wide Web was still emerging as a communications force. The GLCSA crisis and information phone line was heavily used.  In that year the organization logged 3700 calls, and utilized over 10,000 volunteer hours.  Just over a third of the people who used the phone service were under 25.

GLCSA aggressively fundraised in advance of the OK Campaign: the campaign budget being $56,000. The community delivered: many pledging a regular monthly contribution in support of the initiative. One fundraising dinner netted $27,000. The local office of Pattison Outdoor Group were hired to coordinate ad placement, and like many other gay advertising initiatives before the OK Campaign ran into troubles.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 4.01.10 PMSome local shopping malls protested having the text only ads in their facilities. Worried that the ads could offend shoppers, they demanded the ads pulled. Mortified Pattison Account Executives gave bonus advertising of $15,000 to the Campaign to compensate for mall owners who had insisted the ads be taken down. Eventually the GLCSA wrote critical letters to those mall owners but were restrained in lodging a formal human rights complaint by the “public education only” nature of the campaign.


Calgary Gay History Project News

It is a busy time in Calgary for queer events and happenings.  You can catch the end of the Fairytales Queer Film Festival this weekend as well as Third Street Theatre’s Stars of the Stage and Screen Gala.

One Voice Chorus, whom we partnered earlier this year to present the Club Carousel Cabaret has a concert coming up featuring a local Gay-Straight Alliance – topical given recent history in Alberta! Rainbow Connections: A Pride Concert will be held on Sunday, June 7th at 3 PM.

Close on the heels of the Third Street Gala is Calgary’s Outlink’s Glitter Gala on June 13th. The Calgary Gay History Project has been invited to participate for a second year. Our researcher, Tereasa Maillie, will be exploring the history of YYC Pride in a short presentation.

We are planning a couple of research trips as well.  Kevin Allen will be on the West Coast again (Victoria and Vancouver) from June 14-18 to gather more interviews for the project. If you or some one you know has a Calgary gay history to share, please contact us.  We also are tentatively planning a trip to Saskatoon (and Regina?) in the first week of August, to check out the Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity at the University of Saskatchewan.  Again, if there are any former Calgarians in Saskatchewan whom you know, please have them get in touch with us.

Now that the Provincial election has concluded, stay tuned to the website for weekly history vignettes, and updates to the project.

Have a great summer!


Gay History is Popular!

As Calgary gears up for Pride, local media has been lining up at the Gay History Project’s door this week to get the skinny on Calgary’s past relations with the gay community!  Phew, I am getting interviewed out…

Next week keep your eyes out for  a website refresh, as well as the launch of our Kickstarter campaign in support of the Calgary Gay History Book!

And if that was not enough, we now have a facebook page and twitter account – which go live now.  If you want to potentially win a  newly printed Calgary Gay History T-shirt, we will randomly give one to a new facebook follower and one to a new twitter follower (sign up by September 1st).

Finally, don’t forget the new Downtown Gay History Walk we are doing in partnership with Calgary Outlink, on August 27th at 7 PM.  The post-walk reception hosted by Outlink will be in the lovely back patio of CommunityWise 223, 12 Ave. SW.