Tag Archives: Lois Szabo

More Tea and HiR developments

As Historian in Residence at the New Central Library, I serve tea weekly (weakly?) on Thursdays from 5-6 PM in room 414-A on the 4th floor. Last night we had Lois Szabo discuss the origins of Club Carousel, Calgary’s first gay bar. Lois was one of the club’s founders in the late ’60s and has been an active member of the community ever since. She was chosen to be our Pride Parade Marshall in 2017.

Lois in Herald

Lois Szabo at the 2017 Pride Parade: Calgary Herald Photo

Next week, on Thursday, December 20th, we have local representatives from the el-Tawhid Juma Circle, Calgary’s inclusive mosque space also known as Unity Mosque. The queer affirming mosque space was founded in Toronto almost ten years ago and has since spread to other Canadian cities. Their mission is to be compassionate, inclusive, gender equal and LGBTQ affirming. Please join us for tea!

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El-Tawhid Juma Circle Website

The library residency has proved to be very fruitful for research. I have been combing the pamphlet and clipping files in the library in the new Calgary’s Story section on the 4th floor.

For example, I discovered the story of Mark Perry-Schaub who was diagnosed with AIDS in July 1987 and subsequently lost his volunteer job with the Calgary ’88 Olympics Committee. He had been a volunteering for three years prior to the diagnosis and fought publicly to be reinstated. He was successful in his fight and despite struggling with three successive bouts of pneumonia he was strong enough to work throughout the Games. He died two months later.

This week I met with three nieces of Everett Klippert whom I had not interviewed before. They shared stories of their Uncle Evie which were new to me, including a wedding with a woman whom he ran away from – the day before the wedding!

Last week, I interviewed Joey Sayer, who was instrumental in founding Lesbian and Gay Youth Calgary (LGYC) in the ’80s, as well as significant gay publications Modern Pink, and Alberta Gay & Lesbian Press (AGLP). Oral history interviews like these, are key sources for future stories on the Calgary Gay History Project website.

Joey Sayer
Kevin and Joey at the Historian In Residence Studio at the New Central Library

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‘Twas a full week of Gay History

Calgary Pride 2017 was very energizing for us at the Calgary Gay History Project. Our history walks and the festival booth were well-attended, and we received a lot of positive comments about the project.

It is important that we honour community trailblazers and in 2017 we certainly did. Lois Szabo was a stunning Parade Grand Marshal in her purple tights. She was also delightful in her many media interviews.

The YYC Legacy Project harvested lots of community feedback on what a LGBTQ2S+ history commemoration could be. They had an impressive display at Pride in the Park as well as a great interactive map of Calgary.

A very special thank you to Ayanna and Gordon who helped volunteer at the Calgary Gay History Booth. We would also like to thank project donors and all of those who came out to speak to us and were enthusiastic about our work. Finally, a big shout out to Gary Evans, a professional photographer who came to both gay history walks, documenting them, and then sending the photos to us.

Consequently, here is a photo summary of our week:

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Lois Szabo, Parade Marshal with Premier Notley and a friend. Source Twitter: @RachelNotley.

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Ayanna and Gordon sharing history at Pride in the Park. Photo: Kevin Allen.

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Meta media image: Steve Polyak, Gay Calgary Magazine, taking a photo at the beginning of the history walk. Photo: Gary Evans, Full Frame Fotography.

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Telling the story of Angels in America in YYC. Photo: Gary Evans, Full Frame Fotography.

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At the site of the historic Club Carousel. Photo: Gary Evans, Full Frame Fotography.

Downtown Gay History Walk Aug 31 2017

Spontaneous sidewalk photo with walk participants – what a good looking group! Photo: Gary Evans, Full Frame Fotography.

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Lois is a Calgary superhero!

Congratulations to Lois Szabo, selected as this year’s Calgary Pride Parade Grand Marshall.  We, at the Calgary Gay History Project, think Lois is a truly deserving ambassador. If you have not seen it, check out this lovely profile of Lois composed by CBC journalist Terri Trembath.

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Family Photo of Les and Lois Szabo: Source, Terri Trembath/CBC News

Lois was born in March 1936 and married her husband Les at the age of 18. They had two children before Lois realized her true sexual orientation. She came out as gay in the early 60s and renegotiated the terms of her marriage with Les in order to live together and raise their children.

Lois found Calgary’s larger lesbian community in the 60s at the Cecil Hotel, where there was a separate drinking room for women that gay women occupied.  Finding great comfort and joy in discovering her community, Lois became one of the founders of Club Carousel, Calgary’s first community owned and run, private members club.  The Club was incorporated in 1970, as the Scarth Street Society; there were approximately 600 members by 1972. Weekend attendance could top 350 revelers in the small underground venue – no straights allowed.

Lois Szabo Carousel Club 1972 copy
Lois at Club Carousel in 1972 with a little pomp!

Club Carousel was the first legal gay & lesbian club in Alberta and Lois was a key volunteer and board member for most of the Club’s history.  Using the Calgary club as a model, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Regina established similar societies.  Club Carousel also sponsored prairie regional gay conferences from 1970 to 1976.

Since then, Lois has spent a lifetime volunteering and organizing in Calgary’s LGBTQ community.  She currently volunteers for the Kerby Centre’s Lesbian Seniors Group, One Voice Chorus, and Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ Legacy Committee.

Lois was recognized by the community in 2015 receiving the Chinook Hero Award given annually to deserving LGBTQ leaders by the Calgary Chinook Fund Endowment Committee.

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Lois receiving the Chinook Hero Award, October 21, 2015, with (L to R) Natalie Meisner, Playwright; Jonathan Brower, Third Street Theatre; Gary Courtney, Chinook Fund; & Kevin Allen, Calgary Gay History Project.

Amusingly, we recently found this comic book cover, which would have hit Calgary newsstands around the time Club Carousel was being conceived.

Lois, we think you are Super too, just like this other Lois!

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August 1968 DC Comic: “When Lois was more super than Superman.”

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