Tag Archives: calgary public library

YYC Queer History be my Valentine

Legislating Love: The Everett Klippert Story has returned as a radioplay and podcast. To celebrate, the Alberta Queer Calendar Project and Sage Theatre are hosing an online Listening Party, on Saturday, February 13th at 4:30 pm. Participants will gather to listen to the episode, followed by a Q&A with members of the cast and crew at 7:00 pm {including Kevin and Tereasa from the Calgary Gay History Project}.

Legislating Love was written by Calgary author, playwright, poet, and professor Natalie Meisner. It premiered in March 2018 at Sage Theatre to critical acclaim. The play explores the story of Calgary bus driver Everett Klippert, who was the last Canadian convicted of being a dangerous sexual offender because of his homosexuality. The Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark judgment in November 1967 set a new bar for injustice: Klippert was given a life sentence.

The play is told through the perspective of aspiring historian Maxine, who is researching the story of Everett. She becomes fascinated with Everett’s case and with discovering the man beyond the headlines. Inspired and captivated, Maxine connects with a senior at a local assisted living facility she knows only as Handsome, one of Klippert’s lovers and perhaps the only person who can truly illuminate the past. At the same time, Maxine is navigating her own new relationship with Métis comedian Tonya. This heartwarming, multi-generational exploration of queer love tells the near-forgotten story of one of Canada’s quiet heroes and reminds us all that the past must be remembered as we work together for a better future.

The radioplay features the work of Jason Mehmel (director/production coordinator), Kathryn P. Smith (sound designer), as well as actors Jenn Forgie, Matt McKinney, Kevin Rothery, and Kathy Zaborsky. Details about the episode and the launch party can be found at sagetheatre.com.

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Shaun Hunter recently released an online literary map of Calgary; a product of her Historian in Residence time at the Calgary Public Library. Heritage Calgary is a partner organization in this residency and you can find the map on its website: here. Note: there are several queer spots to discover (I was delighted to find the Tegan and Sara house). Shaun has compiled an LGBTQ+ reading list that can accompany one’s geographic sleuthing.

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Finally, my own valentine, Gordon Sombrowski, has publicly released a new short story, titled Pigeon Droppings—set in Calgary—as a teaser to his upcoming collections of short stories: What Narcissus Saw.

{KA}

February Deadlines

It has been a bit quiet lately in the research offices of the Calgary Gay History Project. However, there is a lot of queer history cooking on the backburner. Stay tuned for some intriguing developments in the next few weeks.

We would like to alert you to some deadlines coming up.

Heritage Calgary and the Calgary Public Library are seeking a new Historian in Residence. Kevin was honoured to be the inaugural H.i.R. in 2018, where he launched Our Past Matters. The profile of the residency helped make the book a best-seller. It was a great experience—if you have a yen for local history, you should consider applying by February 8th.

The Government of Canada is developing its very first LGBTQ2 Action Plan and is seeking community input. What is your lived experience? What do you think we need as a community? Take their online survey: here. Responses are due by the end of February. {We said the country needs more queer history!}

{KA}

The Western Alienation Merit Badge

Every summer, I take it upon myself to read some gay history fiction while enjoying seasonal downtime. Last summer it was The Well of Loneliness; this summer, to my delight, it is a Calgary story. The Western Alienation Merit Badge is the first novel from author Nancy Jo Cullen, a former Calgarian, and recipient of the Writers’ Trust Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBT Emerging Writers. It has been gathering plaudits and praise.

Western Alienation Merit Badge

Our Summer Read for 2019

The book chronicles the staggering trials of the Murray family during the 1982 oil recession in Calgary. A death in the family, unplanned pregnancy and a coming-out story test family bonds against a backdrop of economic precariousness – a lot of drama, which Cullen deftly weaves with a poetic touch. My favourite aspect of the book is its use of non-linear time. The plot ricochets through the decades and only slowly reveals the larger tapestry of the Murray family’s sadness and regrets.

The Western Alienation Merit Badge has some eerie resonances to the Calgary of today. An economic slump mixed with anti-Trudeau rhetoric and general Calgarian embitterment makes one think distressingly about the cyclical nature of our city. After all, was it not that legendary 1980s recession that brought us the bumper sticker: “Please God, let there be another oil boom. We promise not to piss it away this time.”

The book also takes us to a period where gay identity was generally disparaged. In the early 80s, coming out was fraught with rejection, and new support groups like the Lesbian Infomation Line were saving lives.

It is fun to read a smart book where Calgary is given a starring role. The locations, the atmosphere, and the dialogue are all achingly familiar. Plus there is a queer protagonist at the heart of it – fans of Calgary gay history could not ask for anything more!

Tangentially, “Oh The Fun We Had” is the theme of this year’s Historic Calgary Week, which starts today. History buffs have a bursting smorgasbord of programming to feast on.

The Calgary Gay History Project will be part of Historic Calgary week again in 2019. In collaboration with the Calgary Public Library, we are hosting a lecture titled: Among friends: the history of LGBTQ2+ recreation and sport in Calgary. Join us on Saturday, August 3rd from 1:00 – 2:00 PM at the Memorial Park Library. There is a post-lecture screening at 2:30 PM of Outliers: Calgary’s Queer History (the Directors Cut) in partnership with the Calgary Queer Arts Society.

We hope to see you out and happy summer reading!

{KA}