Calgary Gay History Project at Mount Royal

The Pride Centre of the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University is in the midst of their campus Pride Week and contacted the Calgary Gay History Project inviting us to speak – which we are delighted to do.

Please join us, tomorrow, (Friday October 17th) from Noon – 2: 00 PM, in the Gallery on the 2nd floor of Wyckham House.  Tereasa Maillie from the Calgary Gay History Project will be representing.

Her lecture will explore the hidden social-cultural past of LGBTQ people in Calgary’s post-war period.  In the 1950s and 60s, queers were widely deemed to be mentally ill and often treated as criminals by society.  She will also explain how a growing social and political community with support from key institutions such as post-secondary institutions played a strategic role in queer emancipation.  The discussion will center on the role of university campuses in advancing LGBTQ causes and supporting the queer community.

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Talking Radical Radio & LGBT History Month

Tereasa Maillie and Kevin Allen from the Calgary Gay History Project are featured on Talking Radical Radio this week.  Host Scott Neigh asks us about the origins of the project and the experiences we have had in doing research on Calgary’s Gay History. Talking Radical Radio is one of the podcasts on Rabble.ca’s podcast network.

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The podcast is timely as October is LGBT History Month in North America.  Founded in 1994, by Missouri high-school history teacher Rodney Wilson, the event was intended to highlight the lack of LGBTQ issues in the education curriculum.

October was chosen by Wilson because National Coming Out Day had already been established (October 11th), and October commemorated the first march on Washington by queer activists in 1979. LGBT History Month is intended to encourage honesty and openness about being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

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Queer history seems to be catching on.  There is a new app called Quistory that showcases moments in the LGBTQ history.  Check out this link to Quist on Huffington Post with 42 photos celebrating our human rights victories.

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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.

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