One of Kevin Allen’s favourite aspects of the Calgary Gay History Project are public gay history walks. Started at Jane’s Walk 2013, Kevin has been conducting these tours of a little known Calgary ever since. There is something unique about locating history in the landscape. Parks, alleys, and storefronts open to reveal their hidden past. Walkers learn new stories about the neighbourhoods they live in or travel through.
Every year the walk evolves as more stories from Calgary’s LGBTQ2 past come to light. Kevin will be hosting several walks for Calgary Pride 2020: two in the Beltline, and two Downtown. All of them are fundraisers for Calgary Pride, whose operations have been sharply impacted by the pandemic.
The Beltliner Presents Pride History Walk & Brunch
Kevin has teamed up with The Beltliner to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Calgary Pride with a History Walk through the Beltline, followed by brunch on both Saturday, August 29th and Sunday, August 30th at 11 AM.
The event begins at The Beltliner (243 12 Ave. SW) with coffee and pastry for the Walk, which lasts approximately one hour. We will travel to significant historical gathering spots for the LGBTQ2 community in this inner city neighbourhood, including Calgary’s first gay bar, Club Carousel. Returning to the restaurant, brunch will be served! Tickets are $50 (plus applicable taxes and fees) and are available at www.showpass.com/pridehistorywalk.
The event is an #OURPRIDE initiative which invites businesses to host their own pride festival event to show support for Calgary’s LGBTQ2 community and raise funds for Calgary Pride.
Downtown Calgary presents a Downtown Gay History Walk
The Calgary Downtown Association is hosting a tour with Kevin that will explore the city’s LGBTQ2 past through the city core on Saturday, August 29th and Saturday, September 5th at 2 PM. This one hour tour will inspire a deeper understanding of the community’s struggles and activism in Calgary and highlight significant political and social events that affected the gay community. On the way, tour guests will pass by several former watering holes where Calgary’s gay community gathered.
Note: Tickets are limited in all tours to allow for physical distancing. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather. Although we will miss the Pride Parade this year, march with Kevin on a 2020 YYC Gay History Walk!
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.
Jeremy Klaszus, editor and founder of The Sprawl, invited us to write an essay about gay history. We used the opportunity to mark the 50th anniversary of Bill C-150, the decriminalization of homosexuality coming into force, and the Calgarian who precipitated it, Everett Klippert. You can read it: here. After reading the essay, CBC Radio requested a live radio interview about the anniversary too.
Consider being a Sprawl supporter yourself – pop-up journalism may be a unique model for news, but the Sprawl has an impressive track record of insightful and meaningful local reportage. We love it.
Another highlight of the week was RISE. The audience at the Plaza Theatre was honoured and moved by the passionate recollections of two heroes from the gay rights movement, Ruth Coker Burks and Cleve Jones. Afterward one Calgarian exclaimed: “It was one of the most inspirational evenings I have ever attended.” I was very grateful to have MCed the event, which was manifested by Twisted Element’s Keon Brawn. Thank you, Keon, for showing the community such inspired leadership.
Phew. The recent LGBTQ2 apology by the Government of Canada had us run off our feet with media interviews and correspondence with journalists. Fortunately, we found several volunteers to pitch in, to address the volume of sound bites requested. Here are some of the more interesting links if you missed them:
The LGBTQ2 apology on November 28th was instigated by the Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson who requested a posthumous pardon for Klippert from the Prime Minister’s Office. He made the ask in February 2016, after he wrote an in-depth feature chronicling Everett’s story. Last week we received a personal email from John referencing the historical research we shared. He wrote: “thanks once again for all your help. Wouldn’t have happened without it…”
Art has the power to both remedy and mend. We are excited to be collaborating with Sage Theatre and Third Street Theatre on the world premiere of Legislating Love: The Everett Klippert Story in March 2018. Sage Theatre has put out a call for theatre actors, and they are accepting auditions until December 20th.
Finally, Calgary’s LGBTQ2 community is gathering for the holidays on December 21st at the Palomino Lounge for A Queerly Festive Dinner. Nine community organizations have come together to produce this holiday meal and drag show which will be both delicious and free! (Donations are gratefully accepted). At this event, Alison Grittner from the YYC Legacy Project will reveal the voluminous community feedback that has been gathered for Calgary’s forthcoming LGBTQ2 commemoration project.