Tag Archives: human-rights

Involve: Stonewall & Carousel

Mark your calendars on Thursday, February 16th, for a stimulating gay history evening at Contemporary Calgary called Involve. This evening of discussion will feature New York Stonewall Uprising Activist Martin Boyce and Calgary’s Club Carousel Founder Lois Szabo, sharing their perspectives and experience of the 2SLGBTQ+ human rights movement.

Free tickets can be found: here.

Sponsored by local interior design studio, Lawrence, we caught up with designer Mitchell Brooks about Involve.

Mitchell explains: “I heard Martin Boyce speak last spring in Calgary and found his personal stories and perspective on the equal rights movement and community deeply profound. When International Day of Pink announced Martin was going to be coming back to Calgary this winter and looking for speaking events, I saw it as a great opportunity to host Martin again and make a local connection to his story and experience. As much as we know some of the international history and movements, I believe Canada and Calgary has a rich queer history as well. We wanted to pair the Stonewall event with what was happening in Calgary around the same time and thought the connection with local Rainbow Elder, Lois Szabo, would enhance that dynamic conversation in a way we may not have all heard before. On top of that, as the principal of Lawrence Interior Design Studio, I pride myself in being a visible and open example of a queer business owner in Calgary.”

Inspire hopes to educate. The event is framed as a queer-led conversation about queer history with queer people, but all Calgarians are welcome.

Mitchell adds: “our past matters—to know how far we’ve come, but also how far we still must go, and the importance of maintaining our progress and place in society. Our history also matters in recognizing and celebrating the people who have led us here and continuing to share their experiences further. What’s so great about the Calgary Gay History Project’s work is that it shares and protects the local history that we closely identify with. In hosting this event, I hope to make a small contribution to support that work, celebrating the history we all represent.”

{KA}

Bucking Conservatism Wins Award

At this month’s Alberta Book Publishing gala, Bucking Conservatism: Alternative Stories of Alberta from the 1960s and 1970s was awarded the Regional Book of the Year prize. Calgary Gay History Project researchers Nevena Ivanović and Kevin Allen contributed a chapter to the book with editor Larry Hannant called, “Gay Liberation in Conservative Calgary.”

About the Editors

Leon Crane Bear is Siksika and a treaty Indian, as well as a graduate of the University of Lethbridge. Larry Hannant is a Canadian historian specializing in twentieth-century political dissent. Karissa Robyn Patton is a historian of gender, sexuality, health, and activism, and is a Canada Research Chair postdoctoral fellow at Vancouver Island University.

Reviews

[A] beautiful mosaic of activist history for many reasons. It’s an intersectional collection that takes for granted the links between social justice struggles. It’s well-written, well-organized and insightful. [. . .] Groups embarking on future projects will benefit from the robust list of references that marks each piece. [. . .] Bucking Conservatism offers a blueprint, a model, for others who want to continue this work, in whatever time period.

—Joe Kadi, Alberta Views

With such a breadth of subjects, there really is something for every reader in the book. This is a book I can imagine picking up off the shelf again and again and looking at for ideas and inspiration.

—Belinda Crowson, Canadian Journal of History

Congratulations, Leon, Larry and Karissa! We’re very pleased for you. Thank you for the invitation to participate.

{KA}

The 30 Years Ago Culture War

1992 was a tumultuous time for the LGBTQ2 community. AIDS deaths in Calgary were exponentially rising. Its response, Queer Nation (We’re here, we’re Queer, get used to it!) was also in the ascendent. Opinion polls stated clearly that the majority of Canadians did not support our rights.

If you were an out, undergraduate student at the University of Calgary, you were quickly conscripted into a culture war—I remember a lot of shouting on campus and gay bashing in the Beltline.

Our club at the University was called GLASS, which stood for the Gay and Lesbian Academics Students and Staff Society. GLASS was supposed to be a social organization but its very existence then was political. GLASS members—virtually all students and no staff—were foot soldiers in our human rights struggle.

On June 17, 1992, a poster was found tacked to the GLASS office door. It was an invitation scrawled in black sharpie: “FAG & LESBIAN BASHING. JUNE 30, 8 AM UNTIL MIDNIGHT. PLEASE COME, NEED VICTIMS.” The date and address listed were for Calgary’s 1992 Pride Parade & Festival at Tomkins Park.

From the U of C archives, GLASS file

In a press release the next day, Greg Lane, Co-chair for GLASS wrote: “Lesbians, gays and bisexuals live in a continual climate of potential violence. I am deeply concerned about these tools of oppression.” He noted that it was not the first time that GLASS had been targeted on campus.

In a move of solidarity, student politicians from the Students’ Unions of U of C, SAIT and Mount Royal College, all swiftly and publicly condemned the action of the unknown poster author, who was never caught, despite police involvement.

That October, GLASS held its second Blue Jeans Day, a borrowed gay liberation intervention from the 70s. It was rediscovered by many campuses in the 90s to coincide with National Coming Out Day. The idea was to wear denim if you supported gay rights. Blue Jeans Day became an explosive event in 1992 that was vociferously debated both in campus media and at many social gatherings on campus.

Gay Blue Jeans Day Poster from 1973, University of Melbourne Archives

Despite the vocal opposition, on October 9, 1992, Blue Jeans Days proceeded. Many varsity queers and their allies were cloaked head to toe in denim: our pride armour. Many others were pissed off and denim-less. It was an angry moment.

FFWD to 2022. Calgary Pride is back in person after the pandemic and will likely top 100,000 participants again. A decisive majority of Canadians support our rights. So much has changed, yet here we are in another angry moment in history, like the irate Valbella email sent to Canmore Pride.

Is this a call to arms? How did we get through this last time? Where can future pacific days be found? These are my questions—without answers yet—30 years after 1992.

{KA}