The conference is asking this question: “as the urgency increases to advance decolonization and anti-racism, take bold climate action, and redress economic and social inequity, are heritage principles and heritage places in step, or stuck in the past?”
Specifically relevant to queer history, they are exploring the idea of a social-cultural reset. How can the heritage community embrace a fuller story and confront exclusion?
It’s a good question. Locally, has Calgary’s heritage community done enough to protect queer historic places and spaces in the city? The answer of course, from our perspective, is “no.”
Earlier this year, the National Trust hosted a webinar on this very subject with Andrew Dolkart from the inspiring NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. We encourage you to watch it.
In the next year, this will be a thrust of the Calgary Gay History Project. To date, we have been active in building the Calgary queer landscape through mapping projects and walking tours. It is time to agitate for queer inclusion in Calgary’s built heritage inventory.
A big thank you to all of the Calgary Gay History Project readers who filled out our survey for queer history offerings at Calgary Pride this year (August 26 – September 5). Here is where you will find us:
Saturday, August 27, 2 PM
Join Shelf Life Books and Kevin Allen for a talk about his book Our Past Matters: Stories of Gay Calgary. The talk will be followed by an open mic, where audience members can share their stories of Gay Calgary or read poems or prose pieces (with a 6-8 minute time slot limit). If you identify as a part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and would like to participate, then please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org! You can also sign up before the event, space permitted. Registration for audience attendance is recommended and appreciated! Free event.
Saturday, August 27, 4 PM
The Calgary Gay History Project’s Kevin Allen will lead a gay history walk through the Beltline. Learn about the City’s fascinating LGBTQ2 past. The walk begins at 4:00 PM in Central Memorial Park (meet at the Boer War Memorial in the centre of the park) and ends at 5:30 PM at Lois Szabo Commons, a new city park celebrating LGBTQ2 history. Spaces are limited; please register in advance through Calgary Pride. Free event.
Friday, September 2, 7 PM
Our friends at The Calgary Institute for the Humanities presents the 4th Annual LGTBQ2S+ Lecture, featuring Dr. Jules Gill-Peterson. Titled: Trans Panic: A Global History, Dr. Gill-Peterson explores the history of violence against trans women. Where did it come from? And when did it arise? Letting go of a purely psychological lens, history shows that targeting trans femininity has been integral to colonial statecraft around the world for the past 150 years. On Zoom or in person at the Central Library. Reserve your spot: here. Free event.
Sunday, September 4, Noon
Our History Booth at the Calgary Pride Festival—Immediately following the Pride Parade on September 4, join us at Pride’s new festival venue – Fort Calgary. At our table there will be history artifacts, books, and ephemera as well as Project volunteers to answer questions and have conversations about Calgary’s Queer History. Sponsored by Calgary Pride. Free event. Stop by and say, “hi!” Happy Pride!
We’ve returned from a three-month hiatus to celebrate both pride month and ten years since the Calgary Gay History Project was founded. We began as a tiny project for Calgary 2012 and have been growing ever since due to an active and engaged community.
In gratitude, Kevin has reflected on a number of special moments from the decade’s deep dive into local queer history.
Gay History Walks. Ever since 2013, situating queer history in the Calgary landscape on a warm summer night with enthusiastic walkers is a slice of heaven (although we had a snow squall once that added a decidedly different frisson).
Everett Klippert. His life story has been a focus of the Calgary Gay History Project since its inception. However, everything deepened when his family got involved with the Project in 2015. Together we excavated Everett’s very profound role in changing Canadian history in 1969. His story continues to have posthumous impact, most recently with the expungement of his criminal record in 2020.
Club Carousel. Calgary’s original gay bar founded in 1970 was arguably the most formative queer space the city has ever seen. Our first commemorative Club Carousel Cabaret was held in 2014 at the High Performance Rodeo thanks to Third Street Theatre and our impresario Michael Green (RIP). Our second Cabaret was held in 2015 thanks to One Voice Chorus—sold out each time!
Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story (2018). Saying “yes” to filmmaker Laura O’Grady was one of the best decisions we ever made. Not only did this short film garner festival laurels, but through the process Laura became a good friend. We made another great film in 2021, called Undetectable. Laura has our highest esteem.
Our Past Matters. The book had a difficult birth. It took four years to write—not one year, as planned. However, it was embraced in pre-production by a successful Kickstarter campaign and since has gone on to be a local best-seller as well as on the curriculum for some University of Calgary undergraduate classes. We are ever so grateful both for insightful readers as well as independent bookstores.
Legislating Love. Natalie Meisner’s play about the life of Everett Klippert was history turned into sublime art (I wept). Sage Theatre mounted the world premiere in 2018, and the play continues to gather praise, most recently winning an “Oscar” at this year’s Dublin International Gay Theatre Festival.
HiR. Kevin was honoured to be the inaugural Historian in Residence when the New Central Library opened in 2018. It was a high water mark for the Calgary Gay History Project and a terrific experience. The Library graciously hosted the book launch of Our Past Matters—an incredibly special memory now.
No historian is an island. So many people have contributed to the success of the Calgary Gay History Project. In closing, we would like to give a shout out to project volunteers past and present: Nevena, Del, Rosman, Matt, Ayanna, Sheldon, Laura, Jonathan, Nolan, and Tereasa!