Calgary Gay History Project volunteer Sheldon Cannon is busy this summer researching the Goliath’s Bathhouse Raid by Calgary Police. This raid was notable in Canadian Queer History due to its timing: December 12, 2002—more than 20 years later than many similar raids in other Canadian cities. The raid was specifically referenced in the Calgary Police’s apology to the LGBTQ2 community in 2018.
Sheldon is interviewing activists, people who were arrested in the raid, and the Calgary Police to get a fulsome view of this pivotal moment in Calgary’s queer history. If you have a story you would like to share about the raid please contact us. We hope to present this research during this year’s Calgary Pride festival at the end of August.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced Monday the creation of a new park in the Beltline: the Lois Szabo Commons. Lois is well known to many in the LGBTQ2 community as a tireless volunteer and one of the founders of Calgary’s early gay institution, Club Carousel, in 1970.
The park was one of six newly named parks in celebration of Calgary’s 125th anniversary. One Voice Chorus’ Jasmine Ing coordinated Lois’ nomination with support from Kevin Allen and the Calgary Gay History Project.
Lois watched the announcement on a livestream of the City Council meeting and was very moved. She said: “I’m really pleased—and not just for me—but for the recognition of the entire community. It’s great we can have a park to sit in and be recognized; it does my heart good. I’m sorry some of the other Club members are not around to share this, particularly Jack.* It’s a community park; it’s not just about me!”
In the nomination package, we wrote:
“For more than 50 years, Lois has been a leader and organizer of Calgary’s LGBTQ2 community. Lois is the last surviving founder of Club Carousel – Calgary’s first gay club, incorporated in March 1970 – despite Calgary Police opposition. She was one of five individuals who dared to sign the club’s incorporation papers when homophobia and discrimination were the norms in Calgary, and few would sign on the dotted line.
She also rolled up her sleeves and became the Club’s most dedicated volunteer. Lois was instrumental in organizing expanded Club programming including, camping trips, motorcycle rides, holiday capers, and more. Furthermore, the Club saved people’s lives by creating the City’s first truly safe space. Lois leant a sympathetic ear to LGBTQ2 Calgarians in distress—likely averting many suicides—pushing back against the tide of our community’s despair. The Club became the locus of early gay rights activism in Calgary. Moreover, it seeded sister clubs in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg, creating a regional human rights network.
Since 1970, Lois has maintained connections to and volunteered for dozens of LGBTQ2 organizations. Even in her 80s, she shows up to most community events today and is well known to many; she is proud to share our community’s history. Lois was given the 2015 Chinook Fund Hero Award and was the 2017 Calgary Pride Parade Grand Marshall—recognition well deserved.”
The Lois Szabo Commons is under construction and will be completed later this summer at the corner of 9 St and 16 Ave SW in the Beltline.
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!