Tag Archives: Shelf Life

Tea & Conversation & Our Past Matters

As part of the Library History Residency, we are having tea and conversation every Thursday from 5-6 PM in room 414A at the new Central Library. Tomorrow’s topic is Calgary’s asexual and aromantic community. Members of local social group YYCaroaces will be present to chat, and we are providing the tea!

The book, Our Past Mattersis picking up momentum. Yesterday we were the cover story in Calgary StarMetro, and last week Kevin got up early to do a spot on Breakfast Television (fortunately they had endless tea in the studio).

Kevin @ shelflife

Our Past Matters author Kevin Allen stands in front of Shelf Life Books on 4th St. S.W. — once the location of Calgary’s most successful gay commercial bar.  (CHRISTINA RYAN / CALGARY STARMETRO)

In addition to Shelf Life Books, you can find Our Past Matters at Pages on Kensington too – more bookstores to come.

Happy sipping, chatting and reading this December!



Launched @calgarylibrary

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Our Past Matters book launch last night at the New Central Library. It was quite a full house and quite an evening. The library’s Rosemary Griebel, before she introduced me, advised me to savour every moment: “you only have your first book launch once.” It was good advice, and I felt so proud and honoured to present my work.

Noel photo

Calgarians come out for history! Photo: Noel Begin

We also screened Laura O’Grady’s Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story, to large applause. Afterward, we floated the idea of a gay history feature film – stay tuned!

Laura 2

Book signing fatigue? No, it was a delight. Photo: Laura O’Grady

People have been asking where to buy the book now that it is out. Shelf Life Books, one of Calgary’s finest independent bookstores, has it. As we add more booksellers we will let you know. Next week, you will also be able to buy it online through the Calgary Gay History Project Website.

Thank you, Calgary for coming out yesterday!




On Being Different

The Kickstarter Campaign was not only a fundraiser for the book project but also an awareness raiser for the work the Calgary Gay History Project is doing.  We have been contacted a number of times in the last couple of weeks, to invite us to create public gay history presentations and/or propose opportunities to collaborate.  At the moment we are pursuing all of them – stay tuned.

However, after a quieter week reflecting on the past month, my husband and I found ourselves in our local independent bookstore, Shelf Life.  Sitting on a shelf at eye-level a book popped out at me.  It was a slim reprinted Penguin Classics edition of Merle Miller’s, On Being Different: What it Means to Be Homosexual.

On Being Different

The article, “What It Means to Be a Homosexual” was published in the the New York Times on January 17th, 1971 – just a few weeks after I was born – and quickly became a watershed essay for the decade.  The New York Times received more than 2,000 letters in response to the article (more than ever received by that newspaper).   The article, with extra material written by Miller, was published later that year as a book.  Miller became a spokesman for the gay rights movement and it also sensitized the nascent gay liberation movement about the important, political nature of coming out.

Miller reflecting on the article wrote, “…There it was, out at last, and if it seems like nothing very much, I can only say that it took a long time to say it, to be able to say it, and none of the journey was easy…”

In the last month I have been saying thank you a lot.  I have one more.  Thank you, Merle.