Tag Archives: Gay History Walk

Grateful for #YYCPride

Reflecting on the 30th anniversary of Calgary Pride, I am struck by our progress. In June 1990, the Calgary Lesbian and Gay Political Action Guild (CLAGPAG), organized the founding Calgary Pride rally in Central Memorial Park, explicitly to protest our lack of human rights protections.

In his address to the pride rally, organizer Stephen Lock exclaimed:

“The prejudice and hatred continues. In Alberta, gay men, lesbians and bisexual women and men still do not have the rights our heterosexual peers enjoy. We still live under a government that, despite every opportunity to educate themselves on the reality of our lives and being, choose instead to cling to the poisonous myths, and to deny us, once again, the rights and protections that should be guaranteed every citizen of this province…

The right wing has enormous power on this continent and it is on the attack against us. It is dedicated in its zeal to eradicate the world of ‘the evil of homosexuality.’ Bashing us from the podiums and pulpits is no different than bashing us with baseball bats and iron pipes…

We need to fight back.”

Button Sales paid for early Calgary Pride events.

In the early ’90s, there were more than 30 LGBTQ community organizations in Calgary, operating almost completely without government or institutional funding. AIDS deaths were increasing exponentially, gay bashings were commonplace, and lesbian mothers and gay fathers were denied access to their children.

Local media published hateful articles and editorials, such as this example in the Gauntlet, that same summer:

“Personally, what I see is a bunch of people who have nothing better to do with their time than wallow in self pity, and want to pass a law so they can enjoy an advantageous position over the rest of society. This is not a request for tolerance but shoving their choice in sexual practice down everyone else’ throat.”

Our community was defiant to sentiments like this.

Those early Calgary Pride Celebrations were astoundingly fuelled on volunteer power and button sales. Furthermore, we were standing on the shoulders of another generation who had defied even more intense social stigma and criminalization, organizing the first gay spaces, like Club Carousel.

During Calgary Pride 2020, our resilience has been again on display. The community has come together in innovative ways, offering programming, connection and empowerment to all of us. I am grateful that our community leaders sought to take the pandemic head on, reimagining what Pride could be in the context of a health crisis.

I am also grateful that Calgary Pride commissioned the Our History Matters series curated by historian and researcher Tereasa Maillie. It’s critical that we can reflect on our human rights journey: to see where we have come, and to understand what still needs to be done.

Thanks to all of the Calgarians who have come on Gay History Walks—fundraisers for Calgary Pride—all sold out!

The book, Our Past Matters, feels like it has been rediscovered this month. For everyone who has sent compliments, my heartfelt thanks. Some people have been uncertain as where to buy it. Here is the skinny.

If you want a physical copy, please support Calgary independent bookstores! Our Past Matters can be found at Shelf Life, Owl’s Nest and Pages on Kensington. As well, the Glenbow Museum and Lougheed House gift shops have copies for sale.

You can purchase a copy and have it mailed through the Calgary Gay History Project website.

Finally, if an e-book is more your thing, you can order it from Amazon.ca.

Fans of the book, can support its future by leaving positive reviews on Amazon or Good Reads.

One of this week’s highlights for me was meeting (virtually) lesbian historian Lillian Faderman. If you are interested in American LGBTQ history, her books are fine!

2020 Pride Mural in Central Memorial Park by artist Mike Hooves

So tomorrow, in the other dimension where we are marching and celebrating and dancing and feasting after the Pride Parade, pause a moment to consider how far we have journeyed with Calgary Pride since 1990.

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#YYCGayHistory @CalgaryPride 2019

Calgary Pride launches tomorrow, and the Calgary Gay History Project has a full slate of activities during the next ten days. Here are the offerings:

Friday, August 23rd: The Our Past Matters: Stories of Gay Calgary e-book release!

Sunday, August 25th: as part of Memorial Park Pride

1:30-2:30 PM – Calgary Gay History Lecture at the Memorial Park Library

3:00 PM – Calgary Queer Arts Society’s Outliers Screening

5:00-6:30 PM – Beltline Gay History Walk

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Beltline Gay History Walk during Pride 2017. Gary Evans, photo.

Monday, August 26th: Bill C-150, the bill “decriminalizing” homosexuality came into force on this day, 50 years ago. Keep your eyes peeled for a particular essay to commemorate this important date.

Wednesday, August 28th:

7:00-10:00 PM RISE: a social commentary with two legendary voices of the LGBTQ+ movement: Cleve Jones and Ruth Coker Burks, Kevin Allen, MC.

Saturday, August 31st:

12:00-4:00 PM  – Join author Kevin Allen for a book signing of Our Past Matters Stories of Gay Calgary at Chapters-Indigo Dalhousie or just stop by to say, “hi.”

Sunday, September 1st:

11:00 AM – 6:00 PM – Pride in the Park. After the parade, stop by the Calgary Gay History Project’s History Booth. Share your own stories and learn more about Calgary’s LGBTQ2 Past.

Phew. It’s going to be a busy Pride!

On a final and sadder note, the Calgary Gay History Project would like to acknowledge the sudden and unexpected passing of Lisa Fahey last month. The 47-year old Calgarian was an indefatigable ally to our community and a driving force behind the Pride Employee Network for Imperial. She was a massive fan of the Calgary Gay History Project: one of our biggest cheerleaders in fact. Lisa regularly marched in the Calgary Pride Parade with her rainbow-festooned wiener dog, Pebbles – who proved to be a media darling, year after year. Lisa’s big heart, enthusiasm, and deep regard for social justice will be sorely missed.

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Greg Cashin and Lisa Fahey of Imperial’s Pride Employee Network with Calgary Gay History Project’s Kevin Allen (centre) in November 2016.

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YYC Gay History in YOW

Kevin has spent the week in Ottawa: working, doing research and going to museums. The Canadian Museum of History just unveiled its new permanent exhibition: the Canadian History Hall – quite impressive. Looking for Calgary gay history connections, we were surprised to find a couple. A photo of Jean L’Heureux (the subject of last week’s post – although he was not cited in the picture) and a rainbow pride banner with its origin story which was created in Calgary in 2005.

We also stopped into the Canadian War Museum to get some snaps of the “Electropsychometer” also know as the Fruit Machine, which the Canadian Government used to eliminate homosexuals from the public service in the 1960s. Tereasa wrote a post about it a few years ago.

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The Fruit Machine at the Canadian War Museum, Kevin Allen photo.

Pride Week in Ottawa begins shortly and there are already signs of rainbows popping up in the nation’s capital, but I am looking forward to coming home to experience YYC Pride. We will have a history booth at Pride in the Park on September 3rd and there are a couple of gay history walks planned on August 31st and September 2nd. We hope to see you out.

{KA}