Tag Archives: Lois Szabo Commons

Beltline Gay History Walk

A stroll through history from Lois Szabo Commons to Club Carousel. This year, the Calgary Gay History Project has time for only one event during Calgary Pride.

2018 Beltline Gay History Walk. Photo: Gary Evans

On Sunday, August 29th, join Kevin Allen for a gay history walk through the Beltline and learn about the City’s LGBTQ2 past. The walk begins at 5 PM from the new Lois Szabo Commons. At 6 PM we arrive for a reception at Home & Away, the site of Calgary’s first gay bar, Club Carousel (appetizers provided)!

The event is free but we are collecting donations for Outlink: Calgary’s Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Book your tickets online: here. The suggested donation is $10. Spaces are limited and masks are encouraged.

Happy Pride!

{KA}

Lois Szabo Commons Open!

Lois Szabo Commons officially opened yesterday, and although we could not be there, we hungrily read the press and social media accounts of the park’s launch. The honour is well-deserved.

Lois with friends and family at the Park’s dedication ceremony. Photo: Marlene Hielema via Facebook.

Lois told me she received so many hugs from the assembled crowd that it may have counteracted her pandemic’s hug deficit! She was particularly chuffed to get a hug from Mayor Naheed Nenshi (two of them apparently).

Here is a media round-up!

City of Calgary Press Release

CBC: Beltline park opens to honour Lois Szabo, Calgary LGBTQ leader

660 News: Lois Szabo Commons opens, recognizes prominent leader in Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ community

Global News: New Beltline community space named after Calgary LGBTQ2S+ leader opens

Calgary Sun: New Beltline park commemorates LGBTQ2S+ community leader Lois Szabo

Calgary Herald: New park in the Beltline commemorates local LGBTQ2S+ community leader Lois Szabo

Although the media accounts are similar, they each have a different photo of Lois! {My favourite is the Calgary Herald’s below}

Congratulations Lois and thank you City of Calgary!

{KA}

Lois Szabo Commons

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced Monday the creation of a new park in the Beltline: the Lois Szabo Commons. Lois is well known to many in the LGBTQ2 community as a tireless volunteer and one of the founders of Calgary’s early gay institution, Club Carousel, in 1970.

The park was one of six newly named parks in celebration of Calgary’s 125th anniversary. One Voice Chorus’ Jasmine Ing coordinated Lois’ nomination with support from Kevin Allen and the Calgary Gay History Project.

Lois in the Club Carousel space in 2019: Source: Global News

Lois watched the announcement on a livestream of the City Council meeting and was very moved. She said: “I’m really pleased—and not just for me—but for the recognition of the entire community. It’s great we can have a park to sit in and be recognized; it does my heart good. I’m sorry some of the other Club members are not around to share this, particularly Jack.* It’s a community park; it’s not just about me!”

In the nomination package, we wrote:

“For more than 50 years, Lois has been a leader and organizer of Calgary’s LGBTQ2 community. Lois is the last surviving founder of Club Carousel – Calgary’s first gay club, incorporated in March 1970 – despite Calgary Police opposition. She was one of five individuals who dared to sign the club’s incorporation papers when homophobia and discrimination were the norms in Calgary, and few would sign on the dotted line.

Lois at Club Carousel in 1972 with a little pomp!

She also rolled up her sleeves and became the Club’s most dedicated volunteer. Lois was instrumental in organizing expanded Club programming including, camping trips, motorcycle rides, holiday capers, and more. Furthermore, the Club saved people’s lives by creating the City’s first truly safe space. Lois leant a sympathetic ear to LGBTQ2 Calgarians in distress—likely averting many suicides—pushing back against the tide of our community’s despair. The Club became the locus of early gay rights activism in Calgary. Moreover, it seeded sister clubs in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg, creating a regional human rights network.

Since 1970, Lois has maintained connections to and volunteered for dozens of LGBTQ2 organizations. Even in her 80s, she shows up to most community events today and is well known to many; she is proud to share our community’s history. Lois was given the 2015 Chinook Fund Hero Award and was the 2017 Calgary Pride Parade Grand Marshall—recognition well deserved.”

The Lois Szabo Commons is under construction and will be completed later this summer at the corner of 9 St and 16 Ave SW in the Beltline.

The Lois Szabo Commons under construction

Congratulations Lois!

*Jack Loenen was another Club Carousel founder and volunteer who is now deceased. In 1976, Jack also helped found Calgary’s oldest extant gay organization, the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch.

{KA}