Tag Archives: CBC

Lois is a Calgary superhero!

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.

szabo-les-lois

Family Photo of Les and Lois Szabo: Source, Terri Trembath/CBC News

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.

Lois Szabo Carousel Club 1972 copy
Lois at Club Carousel in 1972 with a little pomp!

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.

Lois at Chinook Fund Dinner copy

Lois receiving the Chinook Hero Award, October 21, 2015, with (L to R) Natalie Meisner, Playwright; Jonathan Brower, Third Street Theatre; Gary Courtney, Chinook Fund; & Kevin Allen, Calgary Gay History Project.

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!

Supermans_Girlfriend_Lois_Lane_085

August 1968 DC Comic: “When Lois was more super than Superman.”

{KA}

Klippert back in the news 50 years later

This has been quite a week in gay history. The Prime Minister’s Office promised a posthumous pardon for approximately 6000 men who were arrested and charged with gross indecency or buggery for consensual sexual acts between men in prior decades.

This was initiated by John Ibbitson’s in-depth review of Everett Klippert’s famous court cases published in the Globe and Mail last weekend, including the first ever published photos of Everett. The Calgary Gay History Project was proud to have supported that article through research findings and interviews.

The news set off a mini-storm of media interview requests locally. Calgary Gay History Project representatives Kevin Allen and Jonathan Brower, also of Third Street Theatre, were kept busy for days.

Jonathan at CBC

Jonathan Brower, interviewed twice at CBC in one day, February 29 2016

Here are some links to the highlights:

John Ibbitson’s breaking the news of the PMO pardon in the Globe and Mail.

CTV National coverage of the story.

Calgary Sun editorial, seeking a local response to the injustices of the past.

CBC Calgary interview on the Eye Opener.

Edmonton Journal editorial in support of a Klippert pardon.

Comment from a NWT Legislator.

Toronto Star editorial in support of pardons for gay men.

John Ibbitson’s follow up article about the speed of change in Canadian society.

We are truly grateful that this injustice has finally come to light in such a public arena. Journalists can change the world!

{KA}

 

 

 

Cabaret Update and CBC Radio Interview

The Club Carousel Cabaret is sold out!  I went to the dress rehearsal a couple of days ago, and for the lucky people who have tickets, it will be a treat – in fact – I found it very moving.

The Calgary Gay History Project and Third Street Theatre have been getting a lot of media attention in regard to the cabaret.  Perhaps the most heartfelt interview to date was on CBC Calgary’s Homestretch with host Doug Dirks.  It was a 10 minute interview was with Lois Szabo, Club Carousel Founder and Kevin Allen from the Calgary Gay History project, on what life was like for gay people in the 60s. Here is an audio link: Calgary’s First Gay Nightclub, Jan 27, 2014.

Lois will be my special guest on a history panel discussion at the Cabaret, along with Calgary filmmaker, Michelle Wong, and Fairy Tales Executive Director, James Demers.

Issue of Club Carousel Capers from exactly 40 years ago.

Issue of Club Carousel Capers from exactly 40 years ago.

Club Carousel was the foundation of an organized gay community in Calgary and we owe those brave volunteers who founded and operated the club a great amount of respect and gratitude.  The Cabaret tonight is a gesture in this regard – thank you elders!

[KA]