Tag Archives: Calgary Queer Arts Society

Fairy Tales 22 Launches

Readers of the Calgary Gay History Project know that we are fans of the fabulous queer film fest, Fairy Tales. The annual event produced by the Calgary Queer Arts Society is now in its 22nd iteration. The Festival often takes a special interest in our community’s history and resiliency. That resilience is being tested in 2020 with the global pandemic, yet impressively the Festival has pivoted to offer all of its films online.

{They also have a fun magpie theme for 2020 – very YYC – Join the Digital Flock!}

Check out the entire festival schedule; running from May 14 – 24, 2020. There are 38 films from over 14 countries to see, but here is a list of ones with historical interest.

May 14 at 7:00 PM (tonight). Fairy Tales launches with

Stonewall: Paving The Way For Gay Pride.  Every year in June, the Gay Pride parade is a wild party. It hasn’t always been like this. While 2020 marks the parade’s 50th anniversary, it was originally the first time gays and lesbians walked the streets in New York, claiming publicly to be out, and this procession was intended to commemorate the Stonewall riots that had occurred a year earlier.

stonewall

May 20 at 7:00 PM

Sex, Sin, and 69. This is a historical, retrospective film about the 1969 legislation to ‘decriminalize’ homosexuality in Canada. Told through contemporary voices including queer academics, historians, activists, educators, artists, and community builders, the film attempts to challenge our understanding of queer history by shining a light on widely adopted misconceptions surrounding decriminalization.

May 22 at 7:00 PM

Button OUT! A short film that is a lively animated personal homage to the filmmaker’s own history of protest and the wider story of the LGBTQ2S+ experiences contained in the collection of over 1200 buttons housed at the ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2S+ archives in Toronto.

May 22 at 7:15 PM

Bitter Years. This feature film retraces the life of Mario Mieli, among the founders of the Italian Homosexual Liberation Movement, created at the beginning of the Seventies. Born in 1952 in Milan, Mario killed himself in 1983, before he was 31. He was an activist, an intellectual, a writer, and a performer: a key figure in the Italian cultural panorama at that time.

May 24 at 7:00 PM

Take Me to Prom. This short film traces the evolution of queer acceptance in society by asking a multigenerational selection of people to recount a story from their high school prom. It notably includes Marc Hall, whose 2002 court case over his school’s refusal to allow him to bring a same-sex date to his prom, became a landmark LGBTQ2 rights case in Canada.

{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}