Tag Archives: Lois Szabo

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.

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Our History Matters

Calgary Gay History Project Researcher, Tereasa Maillie, has curated a history series to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Calgary Pride!

Beginning tomorrow, the first of ten online programs, launches. The series includes the history of LGTBQ+ newcomers in Canada, the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Calgary, and films on gay and lesbian life in ‘50s and ‘60s. On September 4th, the series will go out with a kick and a twirl: History is a Drag will feature performances by top drag artists taking a new spin on our stories and histories.

“We really need a celebration of culture, of gender, and of sexually diverse communities in 2020! So let’s challenge the histories we hold at the same time,” Tereasa explains. The series intentionally explores history from different angles, lenses, and identities.

The series is free and held online through Showpass. View the full calendar of Calgary Pride’s Learning Series workshops at https://www.calgarypride.ca/learning-series/

forbiddenlove

Film Poster from the NFB’s groundbreaking lesbian history doc.

Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives (1992)
August 14, 7-9 pm
National Film Board – 1 hour 30 minutes with discussion to follow. A Queer film classic, Forbidden Love is a historical documentary on what was happening for Lesbians in ‘50s and ‘60s Canada. Interviews from women of all ages and cultures are interspersed with a pulp lesbian romance story. Join Natalie Meisner, Lalangi Ali, Tereasa Maillie, and Lois Szabo as they discuss the film’s impact on them personally and their understanding of Canadian history.

Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story (2018)
August 15, 7-8 pm
TELUS Originals – 17 minutes with discussion to follow. Join director Laura O’Grady, Kevin Allen, and lawyer Brian Crane to discuss Everett Klippert, the last Canadian to be jailed for homosexuality. Winner of the Calgary International Film Festival 2018 Best Alberta Short.

klippert2

Kevin Allen in a scene from the film, Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story. Photo courtesy, Spotlight Productions

AIDS in Canada: The Forgotten Pandemic
August 20, 7-8:30 pm
HIV/AIDS is still with us: More than 70 million people have been infected with HIV and about 35 million have died from AIDS since the start of the pandemic in the late 1970s. A frank and open discussion on the epidemic with survivors, medical experts, and historians of our country’s response.

Queer the Music
August 21, 7-8:30 pm
Local musicians, including Toni Vere, speak about the history of Queer music in Calgary and share their own stories. Join us for some powerful musical performances too.

Rainbow Connection: History of LGTBQ+ Newcomers in Canada
August 24, 1-3pm
Canada has been a leader in recognizing LGBTQ+ refugee claims and resettling refugees fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation and gender-based identity. Join the discussion with a panel of experts on the history of LGTBQ+ immigration and refugees to Canada.

Small Town Queer- Film Series
August 27, 7-8:30 pm

TELUS Story Hive – 2019 – Three 20 minute shorts with discussion to follow
Join us for an online screening of Laura O’Grady’s three excellent films about Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge’s Queer communities, which includes a discussion after each section about the history of small town life. Panelists include members of the Queer community from these towns.

Origins
August 28, 6-7:30 pm
An exciting discussion with the founders of Calgary Pride about the early days, the changes in our community, and how Pride has shaped our city.

Queering the Archives
September 1, 7-8:30 pm
Local historians and archivists will share stories hidden in the records and discuss the need for archives and museums to support Queer history.

Queer Art Destroys History
September 2, 7-8:30 pm
A lively panel with LGTBQ2S+ artists who tackle art, society, and history, confronting and sharing Calgary’s Pride.

History is a Drag – Performance
September 4, 7-8:30 pm
Three outstanding drag performers take a page from Calgary’s history to reinterpret it in their own way. Shane On You, Nada Nuff, and Farrah Nuff will transform your ideas on what history is with stories and songs.

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Local gay history is sprawling!

Happy Pride Calgary!

Today, Global Television airs Brave Beginnings of Calgary Pride and the Gay Rights Movement, as part of their Pride 2019 programming. A part of Club Carousel still exists! Thank you, Jill Croteau, for embracing yycgayhistory (and maybe saving that wall)…

Lois at CC

Club Carousel Founder Lois Szabo back at 1207 1 St. SW!

Last week we wrote incorrect dates for this weekend. The upcoming Calgary Gay History Project events are:

Saturday, August 31st:

12:00-4:00 PM  – Join author Kevin Allen for a book signing of Our Past Matters Stories of Gay Calgary at Chapters-Indigo Dalhousie or just stop by to say, “hi.”

Sunday, September 1st:

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.

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