Tag Archives: Mike Hooves

Grateful for #YYCPride

Reflecting on the 30th anniversary of Calgary Pride, I am struck by our progress. In June 1990, the Calgary Lesbian and Gay Political Action Guild (CLAGPAG), organized the founding Calgary Pride rally in Central Memorial Park, explicitly to protest our lack of human rights protections.

In his address to the pride rally, organizer Stephen Lock exclaimed:

“The prejudice and hatred continues. In Alberta, gay men, lesbians and bisexual women and men still do not have the rights our heterosexual peers enjoy. We still live under a government that, despite every opportunity to educate themselves on the reality of our lives and being, choose instead to cling to the poisonous myths, and to deny us, once again, the rights and protections that should be guaranteed every citizen of this province…

The right wing has enormous power on this continent and it is on the attack against us. It is dedicated in its zeal to eradicate the world of ‘the evil of homosexuality.’ Bashing us from the podiums and pulpits is no different than bashing us with baseball bats and iron pipes…

We need to fight back.”

Button Sales paid for early Calgary Pride events.

In the early ’90s, there were more than 30 LGBTQ community organizations in Calgary, operating almost completely without government or institutional funding. AIDS deaths were increasing exponentially, gay bashings were commonplace, and lesbian mothers and gay fathers were denied access to their children.

Local media published hateful articles and editorials, such as this example in the Gauntlet, that same summer:

“Personally, what I see is a bunch of people who have nothing better to do with their time than wallow in self pity, and want to pass a law so they can enjoy an advantageous position over the rest of society. This is not a request for tolerance but shoving their choice in sexual practice down everyone else’ throat.”

Our community was defiant to sentiments like this.

Those early Calgary Pride Celebrations were astoundingly fuelled on volunteer power and button sales. Furthermore, we were standing on the shoulders of another generation who had defied even more intense social stigma and criminalization, organizing the first gay spaces, like Club Carousel.

During Calgary Pride 2020, our resilience has been again on display. The community has come together in innovative ways, offering programming, connection and empowerment to all of us. I am grateful that our community leaders sought to take the pandemic head on, reimagining what Pride could be in the context of a health crisis.

I am also grateful that Calgary Pride commissioned the Our History Matters series curated by historian and researcher Tereasa Maillie. It’s critical that we can reflect on our human rights journey: to see where we have come, and to understand what still needs to be done.

Thanks to all of the Calgarians who have come on Gay History Walks—fundraisers for Calgary Pride—all sold out!

The book, Our Past Matters, feels like it has been rediscovered this month. For everyone who has sent compliments, my heartfelt thanks. Some people have been uncertain as where to buy it. Here is the skinny.

If you want a physical copy, please support Calgary independent bookstores! Our Past Matters can be found at Shelf Life, Owl’s Nest and Pages on Kensington. As well, the Glenbow Museum and Lougheed House gift shops have copies for sale.

You can purchase a copy and have it mailed through the Calgary Gay History Project website.

Finally, if an e-book is more your thing, you can order it from Amazon.ca.

Fans of the book, can support its future by leaving positive reviews on Amazon or Good Reads.

One of this week’s highlights for me was meeting (virtually) lesbian historian Lillian Faderman. If you are interested in American LGBTQ history, her books are fine!

2020 Pride Mural in Central Memorial Park by artist Mike Hooves

So tomorrow, in the other dimension where we are marching and celebrating and dancing and feasting after the Pride Parade, pause a moment to consider how far we have journeyed with Calgary Pride since 1990.


Queer Art Friday in YYC

The Calgary Gay History Project recently had the pleasure of meeting two engaging queer artists: Mike Hooves and Ryan Danny Owen, who are both working at Arts Commons in the RBC Emerging Visual Artists program. Arts Commons is hosting an artist reception this Friday, March 1st from 7-10 PM which is free and open to the public.

We know Mike’s work as an animator and filmmaker but at Arts Commons, they are working on a dynamic portraiture project that is recording the lives of LGBTQ2 Calgarians – in felt marker! Colourful and intimate, these portraits are an archive of prairie queer identity in 2019. The portrait sitters Mike has chosen challenge cis-gender, homonormative identities, expanding the edges of our queer umbrella.

In conversation with Mike, we talked about our shared goal of claiming queer space in the public realm. Mike makes that claim viscerally, by creating artwork cross-legged in the window of the Lightbox Studio, just inches from the public passing by, who often stop for long looks.

Mike Hooves

Mike Hooves in Studio with Prairie Queer

Ryan Danny Owen is haunted by queer history. Their artistic practice reflects on identity, loss, desire, and emotion. Charming and precocious, Ryan uses retro gay male pornography as a launch pad for inspiration. Including, notably, a Calgary Stampeder named Blaine Lamoureux who was kicked off the football team in the 70s for posing naked in a gay porn magazine.

Their residency titled, Come Find Me, includes a series of 21 posters developed through a process of automatic writing poetry. When I visited Ryan in the Ledge Gallery, there were words everywhere – on walls, on the floor – in dripping ink, pregnant with references to Calgary’s queer history. These posters are going up in the gallery as well as on the streets of the city. Sites of queer history are being marked and remarked on in this process. The posters perhaps are as ephemeral as the former gay bars are in our memories.

Ryan Danny Owen

A poster by Ryan Danny Owen at the site of the former Calgary Eagle.

Mike and Ryan will be part of an artist talk beginning at 7:45 PM during the evening reception. We hope to see you there!