Congratulations to Lois Szabo, selected as this year’s Calgary Pride Parade Grand Marshall. We, at the Calgary Gay History Project, think Lois is a truly deserving ambassador. If you have not seen it, check out this lovely profile of Lois composed by CBC journalist Terri Trembath.
Lois was born in March 1936 and married her husband Les at the age of 18. They had two children before Lois realized her true sexual orientation. She came out as gay in the early 60s and renegotiated the terms of her marriage with Les in order to live together and raise their children.
Lois found Calgary’s larger lesbian community in the 60s at the Cecil Hotel, where there was a separate drinking room for women that gay women occupied. Finding great comfort and joy in discovering her community, Lois became one of the founders of Club Carousel, Calgary’s first community owned and run, private members club. The Club was incorporated in 1970, as the Scarth Street Society; there were approximately 600 members by 1972. Weekend attendance could top 350 revelers in the small underground venue – no straights allowed.
Club Carousel was the first legal gay & lesbian club in Alberta and Lois was a key volunteer and board member for most of the Club’s history. Using the Calgary club as a model, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Regina established similar societies. Club Carousel also sponsored prairie regional gay conferences from 1970 to 1976.
Since then, Lois has spent a lifetime volunteering and organizing in Calgary’s LGBTQ community. She currently volunteers for the Kerby Centre’s Lesbian Seniors Group, One Voice Chorus, and Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ Legacy Committee.
Lois was recognized by the community in 2015 receiving the Chinook Hero Award given annually to deserving LGBTQ leaders by the Calgary Chinook Fund Endowment Committee.
Amusingly, we recently found this comic book cover, which would have hit Calgary newsstands around the time Club Carousel was being conceived.
Lois, we think you are Super too, just like this other Lois!