Tag Archives: transgender

Early Court Snippets

January, in Calgary, can be a cold month. Bringing some warmth and frolicking good times in January 1977 was “Winter Wonderland,” the Imperial Court of the Chinook Arch’s first Coronation Ball.

The Calgary Gay History Project was fortunate to interview Dale Campbell this week. Active in the early years of Calgary’s court system—now called the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch (ISCCA)—he shared photos and memories of that first Coronation ball.

{Note: the ISCCA is still going strong and will be hosting Coronation 47 this April at the Hyatt. Click here to read a short history of the storied organization in Calgary.}

Dale, also known then as Countess Dixie Lee Ann, has fond memories of the parties (sometimes boozy) and the camaraderie of the 1970s gay community. Yet, soberingly, many individuals in these early Court photos would later be lost to AIDS.

Here are a few snapshots of those early years.

Countess Dixie Lee Ann with Empress 1 Veronica Dawn
Calgary’s first Coronation Ball
The Coronation of Emperor 1 Jack and Empress 1 Veronica Dawn
Emperor 1 Jack Loenen wearing his signature leather vest

Thank you, Dale, for sharing your memories and these images!

{KA}

Involve: Stonewall & Carousel

Mark your calendars on Thursday, February 16th, for a stimulating gay history evening at Contemporary Calgary called Involve. This evening of discussion will feature New York Stonewall Uprising Activist Martin Boyce and Calgary’s Club Carousel Founder Lois Szabo, sharing their perspectives and experience of the 2SLGBTQ+ human rights movement.

Free tickets can be found: here.

Sponsored by local interior design studio, Lawrence, we caught up with designer Mitchell Brooks about Involve.

Mitchell explains: “I heard Martin Boyce speak last spring in Calgary and found his personal stories and perspective on the equal rights movement and community deeply profound. When International Day of Pink announced Martin was going to be coming back to Calgary this winter and looking for speaking events, I saw it as a great opportunity to host Martin again and make a local connection to his story and experience. As much as we know some of the international history and movements, I believe Canada and Calgary has a rich queer history as well. We wanted to pair the Stonewall event with what was happening in Calgary around the same time and thought the connection with local Rainbow Elder, Lois Szabo, would enhance that dynamic conversation in a way we may not have all heard before. On top of that, as the principal of Lawrence Interior Design Studio, I pride myself in being a visible and open example of a queer business owner in Calgary.”

Inspire hopes to educate. The event is framed as a queer-led conversation about queer history with queer people, but all Calgarians are welcome.

Mitchell adds: “our past matters—to know how far we’ve come, but also how far we still must go, and the importance of maintaining our progress and place in society. Our history also matters in recognizing and celebrating the people who have led us here and continuing to share their experiences further. What’s so great about the Calgary Gay History Project’s work is that it shares and protects the local history that we closely identify with. In hosting this event, I hope to make a small contribution to support that work, celebrating the history we all represent.”

{KA}

Manifestations

Today is a holiday for many in the world. From my secular angle, Epiphany, or January 6th, represents the conclusion of the Christmas holidays. In 2015, I wrote: “I just looked up the meaning of epiphany and it means “manifestation” which I think will be the running theme for the Calgary Gay History Project.”

The Calgary Gay History Project has done manifesting well. Check out our top ten list: here.

In 2023, our manifestation priority is developing the Calgary queer archives. Since the Project was founded in 2012, we have been accepting donations of papers and artifacts about Calgary’s 2SLGBTQ+ past. They now need to be accessioned appropriately in a professional archive—likely at the U of C—to be made available to future researchers. (And to free up some floor space in our apartment…)

A portion of the Calgary Queer Archives stored at home and loosely catalogued.

One of our favourite objects in the archive is Jack’s vest!  Jack Loenen was the first Emperor of the Imperial Court of the Chinook Arch (ISCCA), elected to that position in January 1977 to a sold-out crowd at the then-downtown Holiday Inn.  He wore this leather vest during and after his reign and placed all the pins he collected from other courts he visited representing the ISCCA.

Jack Loenen, Emperor I of ISCCA
Jack Loenen’s vest, Emperor I of ISCCA.

Although Jack is now deceased, his partner Peter Kelsch made this important donation to the Calgary Gay History Project in 2015. I just met up with Peter again a few weeks ago, who had more archive donations and stories to tell (thank you, Peter)!

We at the Calgary Gay History Project wish you a happy new year, including some epiphanies, manifestations or both.

{KA}