Tag Archives: queer

RISE Redux

{The Calgary Gay History Project is returning to our AIDS history series this week. In that vein, please spare a thought for AIDS activist Larry Kramer, who died of pneumonia yesterday at age 84.}

A highlight of Calgary’s 2019 Pride Festival was the gay history event “RISE.” The audience at the Plaza Theatre was honoured and moved by the passionate recollections of two heroes from the AIDS pandemic, 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 emceed the event, which was manifested by Twisted Element’s Keon Brawn in collaboration with HIV Community Link.

Local videographer Patrick Monaghan was there with his camera and recently edited a video of the evening, which he has now uploaded to YouTube. I encourage you to watch or rewatch RISE; it’s a history lesson that reminds us of our shared humanity in the pressure cooker of this earlier pandemic.

Ruth

Ruth Coker Burks with the Calgary Gay History Project’s Kevin Allen

Ruth Coker Burks is perhaps better known as the Cemetery Angel. Ruth, a former caregiver of AIDS crisis victims, is an AIDS awareness advocate based in Arkansas. During the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic, she used her salary as a real estate agent to care for AIDS patients whose families and communities had forsaken them. Due to prejudice, fear, and stigma surrounding the disease, she was often the patients’ only caregiver until their passing. She is also recognized for burying abandoned bodies in her own family cemetery in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Ruth, Cleve, Kevin

Cleve Jones (centre) sharing his recollections.

Cleve Jones co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, which grew into one of the largest and most influential People with AIDS advocacy organizations in the United States.

In 1985, Jones then started The Names Project, which resulted in tens of thousands of people making quilt panels to commemorate those they had lost to the disease. Also known as the AIDS Memorial Quilt, thousands of panels at a time toured North America. The Canadian National Tour of the quilt stopped in Calgary in July 1989. The 1000 visiting panels were hung in layered sections in the Calgary municipal building atrium. Fourteen panels created in Calgary were added to the quilt during its pause in the city.

Thank you, Patrick, for documenting RISE and sharing this video!

{KA}

#BanConversionTherapy: a letter to the @cityofcalgary

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Office of the Councillors
City of Calgary
PO Box 2100, Station M
Calgary, AB  T2P 2M5

May 21, 2020

His Worship Mayor Naheed Nenshi
Calgary City Council and Administration:

We, the undersigned, applaud you for your brave and bold leadership shown on February 3rd, 2020, when you unanimously voted for our city’s administration to craft a bylaw to protect LGBTQ2SIA+ Calgarians from the unscientific, fraudulent, and harmful practices of “conversion therapy”.

On May 13th and 14th, at the SPC meeting on Community and Protective Services, our city’s administration delivered a rigorously tested bylaw that aligns with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and protects vulnerable individuals from the abuses of so-called “sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression change efforts”. This bylaw has been prepared in full consultation with all stakeholders, supported by expert researchers, lawyers, and administrators to create the strongest bylaw possible to protect Calgarians.

Any attempts to amend this bylaw create exemptions and loopholes that are not only unethical, they are dangerous. Any changes made to this bylaw will place people’s lives at risk, effectively nullifying an intended prohibition on this harmful practice.

We are writing you as a coalition of Calgary’s diverse Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit, Intersex, Asexual communities to implore you to stand up for our rights, and for the lives of those most vulnerable to this unethical practice.

The Bylaw doesn’t need to be changed. We don’t need to be changed.

On Monday, May 25th, you will be given the opportunity to fulfill your commitment to end conversion therapy in Calgary. Please approve this bylaw as written – without amendments, without exemptions, and with the full support of your belief in the strength, dignity, and humanity of our LGBTQ2SIA+ communities.

Sincerely,

Pam Rocker, Director
Affirming Connections

Ian Watt, Board President
Apollo, The Western Cup

Kevin Allen, Historian, Author & Research Lead
Calgary Gay History Project

Shawn Loo, Board President
Calgary Men’s Chorus

Paul Meunier, Board President
Calgary Outlink

Shone Thistle, Board President
Calgary Pride

James Demers, Executive Director
Calgary Queer Arts Society

Pam Krause, President & CEO
Centre for Sexuality

Safa Rahman, Member
El-Tawhid Juma Circle

Boban Stojanovic, LGBTQ+ Program Manager
Centre for Newcomers

Kelly Ernst, President
End of the Rainbow Foundation

Kay Orr, Board President
Fellowship of Alberta Bears

Keith Murray, Affirming Coordinator
Hillhurst United Church

Leslie Hill, Executive Director
HIV Community Link

Nina Tron, Board President
Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch

Michelle Robinson, Sahtu Dene, Co-chair
MMIWG2S Calgary Committee

Jane Perry, Artistic Director
One Voice Chorus

Jarom Moriyama-Bondar, Co-founder
Pride in Business

Jonathon Lloyd, Board Secretary
Prime Timers Calgary

Donna Thorsten, Manager
Rainbow Elders Calgary

Lindsay Peace, Co-founder
Skipping Stone Foundation

Gordon Sombrowski, Advisory Committee
The Chinook Lesbian and Gay Endowment Fund

Floyd Visser, Executive Director
The SHARP Foundation

A coalition of LGBTQ2SIA+ serving organizations listed in alphabetical order by organization. This letter can also be found on Calgary Pride’s website here: www.calgarypride.ca/banning-conversion-therapy

Fairy Tales 22 Launches

Readers of the Calgary Gay History Project know that we are fans of the fabulous queer film fest, Fairy Tales. The annual event produced by the Calgary Queer Arts Society is now in its 22nd iteration. The Festival often takes a special interest in our community’s history and resiliency. That resilience is being tested in 2020 with the global pandemic, yet impressively the Festival has pivoted to offer all of its films online.

{They also have a fun magpie theme for 2020 – very YYC – Join the Digital Flock!}

Check out the entire festival schedule; running from May 14 – 24, 2020. There are 38 films from over 14 countries to see, but here is a list of ones with historical interest.

May 14 at 7:00 PM (tonight). Fairy Tales launches with

Stonewall: Paving The Way For Gay Pride.  Every year in June, the Gay Pride parade is a wild party. It hasn’t always been like this. While 2020 marks the parade’s 50th anniversary, it was originally the first time gays and lesbians walked the streets in New York, claiming publicly to be out, and this procession was intended to commemorate the Stonewall riots that had occurred a year earlier.

stonewall

May 20 at 7:00 PM

Sex, Sin, and 69. This is a historical, retrospective film about the 1969 legislation to ‘decriminalize’ homosexuality in Canada. Told through contemporary voices including queer academics, historians, activists, educators, artists, and community builders, the film attempts to challenge our understanding of queer history by shining a light on widely adopted misconceptions surrounding decriminalization.

May 22 at 7:00 PM

Button OUT! A short film that is a lively animated personal homage to the filmmaker’s own history of protest and the wider story of the LGBTQ2S+ experiences contained in the collection of over 1200 buttons housed at the ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2S+ archives in Toronto.

May 22 at 7:15 PM

Bitter Years. This feature film retraces the life of Mario Mieli, among the founders of the Italian Homosexual Liberation Movement, created at the beginning of the Seventies. Born in 1952 in Milan, Mario killed himself in 1983, before he was 31. He was an activist, an intellectual, a writer, and a performer: a key figure in the Italian cultural panorama at that time.

May 24 at 7:00 PM

Take Me to Prom. This short film traces the evolution of queer acceptance in society by asking a multigenerational selection of people to recount a story from their high school prom. It notably includes Marc Hall, whose 2002 court case over his school’s refusal to allow him to bring a same-sex date to his prom, became a landmark LGBTQ2 rights case in Canada.

{KA}