I have lived in the Beltline for most of my adult life, which has also been central to Calgary’s queer community for more than 50 years. Additionally, most historians I know are voracious readers. Consequently, it is no surprise that my favourite Beltline store is Shelf Life Books.
Shelf Life has an interesting queer history itself as the site of the former Parkside Continental gay bar. There is an excellent mural on the backside of the store by Kyle Simmers, that subtly evokes this history with the inclusion of the bar’s now iconic logo.
The book store has been the largest seller of my book, Our Past Matters, and has hosted yycgayhistory special events for which I am very grateful. They also stock the books of queer friends and colleagues. Pick up any book by Suzette Mayr, Vivek Shraya, or Rae Spoon and you won’t be disappointed. Sharanpal Ruprai, whom I adore as a person, writes books of poetry that sing, charm, and sizzle. They also carry more comprehensive Canadian queer history readers such as the Valerie Korinek’s Prairie Fairies and The ArQuives‘ recently published OutNorth.
In fact, all independent book stores in Calgary need our custom. Furthermore think hyperlocal—support Calgary authors by buying their books. If you need inspiration, there is no greater source than Shaun Hunter’s Calgary Reading Lists. She virtually single-handedly has created a canon of local literature, as well as a useful reader in Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers.
I am wishing all Calgarians a safe, happy, and restful holiday season. Take care of yourselves and each other—find joy in unexpected places. — Kevin
We have new summer reading material, thanks to Neil Richards who gave us a parting gift of a 1968 gay pulp novel, which was a duplicate in their archive. Everyone in Saskatoon during last week’s gay history research trip was exceedingly helpful, and the amount of Calgary materials in these archives are a testament to the closeness and cross-pollination between gay communities on the Prairies.
If you are in Calgary next weekend you should check out the Human RITES conference, an exploration of faith and identity, April 29-May 1. Conference organizer, Pam Rocker, explains that Human RITES was created because of the recognition that religion, in a broader sense, still actively marginalizes LGBTQ people. The conference goal is to create a space where people can discuss religion, identity and sexuality comfortably and respectfully.
Highlights include, an evening with Rae Spoon, singer/songwriter/author, workshops with writer/speaker Brandan Robertson and a reading of ‘oblivion’ by local playwright Jonathan Brower (he also is a researcher & collaborator with the Calgary Gay History Project).
Finally, we are looking forward to our upcoming Beltline Gay History Walk as part of Jane’s Walks in Calgary on May 7th. Mixing it up, we will have a travelling artist with us during the walk. Bogdan Cheta, will be presenting some of his work, a manifesto has come to light which was conceived at an artist residency in Calgary’s oldest artist-run centre, The New Gallery.