Calgary Gay History Project readers know that rehabilitating the story of Everett Klippert has been a primary occupation. The Calgary bus driver whose court case decriminalized homosexuality in 1969, was widely forgotten in the 21st Century.
That is why we were thrilled to support a dramatic retelling of Klippert’s life through the talent and wisdom of Calgary playwright Natalie Meisner. The play, Legislating Love: The Everett Klippert Story, premieres next month at Sage Theatre and runs from March 22nd to 31st.
In advance of the play, there is going to be a terrific fundraiser – full of Pride – to help finance the production. We encourage you to head down to Inglewood’s Lolita’s Lounge on Thursday, March 1st, to support Calgary’s gay history on stage!
It was with much sadness that the Calgary Gay History Project learned Neil Richards of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan passed away last month at the age of 68. Neil was dogged in the preservation of gay history in his Province. A consummate collector he amassed one of the most extensive LGBTQ collections in the country – over 6000 book titles, including ephemera, artefacts, and serials that reflect various aspects of queer existence.
Neil Richards from a feature in Bridges Magazine, June 2014 (a Saskatoon Star Phoenix Publication)
I met Neil on a research trip in April 2016. He introduced me to the collection at the University of Saskatchewan accessioned and named after him. He was also very generous with his time. I spent days trawling through his personal papers housed in the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan for references to Calgary’s historic gay community – and there were many. Copies of early Calgary publications included: Carousel Capers, Gay Moods, and Camp 181 newsletters, as well as many details about the CLGRC conference, hosted Calgary in 1980. Even more valuable than the papers were his personal recollections of early gay rights events on the Prairies he actually attended.
Neil seemed bemused by life and laughed easily. We ate many nourishing meals together, and I was surprised at the instant sense of camaraderie we established – queer historian being perhaps a niche corner of human endeavour.
Although he confessed to not having ever spent much time in Calgary, the amount of Calgary materials in his archive collection was a testament to the closeness and cross-pollination between gay communities on the Prairies.
A present from Neil
On my final research day with Neil, I had my suitcase with me, as I was going right from his desk at the University, (which he still occupied – although retired) to the aeroplane. He handed me a going away present: a duplicate of a 1968 pulp fiction novel in the collection – A Queen’s Fury. I treasure it as a gift. Loving the title, I am inspired to be a fierce queer historian, worthy of its name. I cherish it even more now, as it was in pure kindness given, and given to me by Neil.
Rest in peace.
In the next few weeks, you can express your love for our City’s LGBTQ2 history in a couple of ways.
Firstly, this Saturday, there is a design charette for the Calgary’s YYC Legacy Project. This is moving the community consultation process forward. The first phase gathered feedback from over 400 participants and generated a dynamic Story Map. The design charrette will have architect facilitators to help participants share their ideas for the future creation of a commemorative LGBTQ2S+ public plaza in Calgary.
Design Charette Poster
Secondly, Sage Theatre is launching the world premiere of a new play called Legislating Love, by local playwright Natalie Meisner about the life of Calgary bus driver, Everett Klippert. The production will run from March 22nd-31st and was created in collaboration with Third Street Theatre and the Calgary Gay History Project.
The play synopsis is: “Everett Klippert was the last person to be tried, convicted, and jailed for homosexuality in Canada. Maxine, a young historian, discovers Everett’s case. She becomes consumed with finding out who he really was, past the headlines. This is the story of the struggle to define Klippert, beyond what history wants and needs him to be.”
Legislating Love Poster
We are excited to see one of our most momentous gay stories turned into art! Please join us; you can find tickets online: here.
Posted in Gay history
Tagged bisexual, Everett Klippert, gay, Legislating Love, lesbian, Natalie Meisner, queer, Sage Theatre, Third Street Theatre, transgender, YYCLegacy