Tag Archives: Steve Gin

#weareorlando YYC Memorial

I was in Victoria’s Butchart Gardens Sunday, when I got the news of the attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Michael Platt from the Calgary Sun was calling and looking for a comment from the Calgary Gay History Project: connecting the massacre to so many crimes we have already faced in the LGBTQ community.

The contrast was intense.  So many pretty flowers in such a bucolic setting combined with the grim, terrible news of a large tragedy unfolding. After the call, my husband and I just sat there on a bench for a few minutes in silence.

To be honest, I am still processing the news. At times sad, at times defiant, I am particularly piqued by the notion that the sight of two men kissing set the murderous rampage in motion.

However I am heartened to see the strong reaction from the LGBTQ community as well as the support from our allies. Nolan Hill, who volunteers for the history project, was quick to help organize a well-attended vigil at Olympic Plaza on Sunday evening. Steve Gin & Lisa Murphy Lamb spearheaded an artistic response: KISS for Orlando through Loft 112. The City of Calgary lit the Langevin Bridge and Calgary Tower in pride colours.

langevin bridge

Calgary Outlink, our city’s LGBTQ community hub, with a large coalition of partners, are hosting a memorial service on Wednesday, June 22nd in the Jack Singer  Concert Hall Lobby at Arts Commons.  The We are Orlando – YYC Memorial begins at 6 PM  and will be a remembrance of all of the victims of Orlando.

YYC Memorial
This memorial is an opportunity for our city to grieve collectively for the lives taken in Orlando. This service is not based on any particular faith. Followers of any faith, or those who do not follow any faith – everyone – is welcome to attend.

My hope is that the Orlando shooting will have a transformative effect on society, shining the spotlight on homophobia and transphobia, wherever it occurs – in our city, in our country, in the USA and in the 70+ countries where homosexuality is illegal and/or carries the death penalty). I also encourage Calgarians to think about how they can support the LGBTQ organizations and services we have here in our city, so that we can maintain and advance our hard-fought human rights victories, as well as foster trust and understanding in the hearts and minds of others.




Homos on the Range

{Calgary Gay History Project’s Tereasa Maillie is working on a memorable history event – one night only – Friday, December 4th at Loft 112 – read the press release below and we hope you can join us – Kevin}

Supposedly, lightning never strikes twice in the same spot. But after 21 years apart, Calgary actors Barry Thorson and Steve Gin are challenging that notion.

In 1994, Thorson and Gin self-produced Harry Rintoul’s searing AIDS drama Brave Hearts, set atypically in the back yard of a party in Saskatoon. Equally uncharacteristic for the time were the play’s blue collar characters: a bitter, closeted seismologist and an openly gay ranch hand.

“At the time, AIDS was still a white-collar crime,” reflects Gin, who played the wise-cracking, Glen

Campbell-loving ranch hand GW. “Most of the AIDS dramas at that time were about well-to-do White gay men who lived in New York, San Francisco or Fire Island. AIDS – let along gay men – were still an invisible presence on the prairies.”

“These (characters) are people that an Alberta or a prairie audience identify with readily and understand,” adds Thorson. “They’re so down-to-earth, which I think is very appealing.”

On the evening of December 4 as part of events honoring World AIDS Day, Brave Hearts receives a staged reading at Calgary’s Loft 112 in Calgary’s East Village, with Thorson and Gin back in the saddle as GW and Rafe. A panel discussion follows, with representatives from the Calgary Gay History Project, HIV Community Link and Chromatic Theatre participating.

Brave Hearts first opened at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in 1991 at a time when a diagnosis of AIDS was still considered a death sentence for many. Three years later, the prognosis wasn’t much better when the play premiered in Calgary at The Pumphouse Theatres. The actors rehearsed at the AIDS Calgary offices, and resource personnel from the organization facilitated talkbacks after each performance. Critical response to the production was positive, with the Calgary Herald proclaiming it “an act of courage.”

teatro berdache

“AIDS claimed a lot of the people we got to know through that show,” remembers Gin. “But others we came to know, especially the ones who were just recently diagnosed, are still here. They’re fine. And that’s so encouraging.”

So why revisit the show two decades later?

First and foremost, it’s a great script, garnering a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination in its Toronto production. And for both actors in the Calgary production, there’s a feeling that people need to be reminded of the impact of AIDS in the community, especially the younger generation of gay youth who never witnessed its devastation first-hand.

Gin went on to helm Teatro Berdache, which ran professional productions in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal from 2000 to 2008. This year, it re-emerged as an interdisciplinary arts facilitator, running the successful Warhol-inspired Factory 112 series at Loft 112.

“We’re definitely older and greyer than we were in 1994,” laughs Gin. “And there’s no damn way we could ever pull this off onstage, ‘cause the characters are 26 and 31. “

“But so much of this play is about loneliness, and the need to reconnect. And I think that’s gonna resonate even more now, especially when the audience has a chance to talk about it with us afterward in the intimate space of the reading.”

Factory 112: Lonesome Cowboys & Brave Hearts runs for one night only at #112, 535 – 8th Avenue SE on Friday, December 4, 2015. Doors open at 7 pm with a 7:30 pm start. Admission is by donation, with all proceeds going to support HIV Community Link. Find the Facebook Event: here.