Tag Archives: gay liberation front

Tracking YYC Gay History in BC

This week Kevin is in Vancouver and Victoria with a long list of former Calgarians to interview. He is learning more details about the 620 Club, early Club Carousel days as well as the Gay Liberation Front in Calgary and the People’s Liberation Coalition. Thanks to Marlene, Doug, Jesse, Dawn, Russ, Brian, My, and Ruth for their great stories and long memories!

Also, the Calgary Gay History Project would like to give a shout out to Mount Royal University History Professor, Dr. Jarett Henderson, who paticipated with over 100 authors in a new book called: Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer. It looks great.

Any-Other-Way-Map-803x0-c-default

This map of “Gay Toronto” originally appeared in The Body Politic, a monthly gay magazine published from 1971 to 1987. Photograph courtesy of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

To see the full table of contents and to order online: click here.

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Before GIRC. YYC gay support in the 70s.

The Calgary Gay History project recently posted about the origins of Gay Information and Resources Calgary (GIRC). However there was an earlier, somewhat short-lived group, “A People’s Liberation Coalition” (PLC), which pre-dates GIRC.

Started in early January 1973, the PLC aimed to serve the local gay community by offering information and counselling: the peer support model which carries through to this day. Their office was located at the Old Y (now CommunityWise) in room 314, and they attempted to have office hours from 7-11 PM, seven days/week.

After its founding,the PLC announced their intention to sponsor “a mixed boogie” at a local community hall.

An Australian gay activist named Brian Lindberg who travelled through Western Canada later in 1973 described the movement in Calgary as going through a difficult period. He wrote:

The gay information centre was staffed by only a few people (one in particular) who continued to maintain the service even though little assistance could be obtained. Considering the population size of Calgary, I was surprised not to find a well organized gay liberation movement.

Some of the people involved, in PLC were activists, Windi Earthworm, My Lipton, Len Girivitz and Jeannie MacKay, who as a group were later responsible for GIRCs founding in 1975. We know that some of the PLC liberationists came from the University of Calgary. My Lipton, a lesbian feminist, was described in the student newspaper, The Gauntlet, as a “militant gay liberationist,” and was involved in the founding of a Gay Liberation Front chapter on campus in the Autumn of 1972.

Gay lib front meeting - first ad_announcement_Sept 1972

Little else is known at present about the PLC. At the Old Y they are not listed as one of the historic groups who had office space there.  If you know more, contact us: here.

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Gay is Good

Gay_is_GoodThe rallying cry of gay liberation throughout the 1970s, was in fact coined in 1968 by pre-Stonewall American gay rights activist Frank Kameny. Frequently found on placards and buttons, the slogan also made its way into famous liberation manifestos. Lesbian activist, Martha Shelley’s 1972 booklet, “Gay is Good” was, and still is, radical and explosive:

Look out, straights. Here comes the Gay Liberation Front, springing up like warts all over the bland face of Amerika, causing shudders of indigestion in the delicately balanced bowels of the movement.”

Gay is Good was heard in Canada also.  The country’s first large scale political demonstration on Parliament Hill was on August 28, 1971. Despite the rain, over 100 activists marched and picketed.  Toronto Gay Action’s Charlie Hill proclaimed Gay is Good during his historic speech in support of the “We Demand” brief submitted to the federal government a week prior.

We demand image

Charlie Hill delivering demands in 1971.  Click photo to see CBC footage of demonstration.  Photo credit: Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

 

Gay liberation made its way to Calgary in 1972 with the short-lived formation of a local chapter of the Gay Liberation Front.  Calgary liberation activists mobilized around a more permanent organization in June 1976: the Gay Information Resource Centre (GIRC).  In 1980 GIRC organized the first gay rights political demonstration in Alberta, with our very own “placard-waving homosexuals” on the steps of Calgary City Hall.

Gay is good.

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