Backdating queer cinema in YYC

The Calgary Gay History Project is very cognizant of the various queer film fests that have stampeded through town in years past. Our contemporary Fairy Tales has by far the longest staying power: the 20th annual festival launches in May 2018.

Previous incarnations include The Fire I’ve Become Film Festival and repertory cinema programming at the Plaza. However, at the Glenbow Archives last week, we stumbled across the Calgary Film Society, a non-profit society which ran art film programming from 1946 – 1987, screening their international film series at the Jubilee Auditorium in their later decades.

The Calgary Film Society’s fall 1981 program, had a unique screening series called the Celluloid Closet, which they projected at the University of Calgary’s Boris Roubakine Theatre. The series only cost $12 and featured five gay films from the 1970s.

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 8.29.58 PM

Calgary Film Society’s 1981/1982 program

1981 is relatively early for publicized gay cultural programming in the city. Consequently, the Calgary Film Society could be considered edgy in its programming. Yet, Fortune in Men’s Eyes, which had been adapted from the stage, might have been familiar to Calgary audiences then, due to its staging by the also edgy Loose Moose Theatre Company in March 1980 at the Pumphouse Theatres.

Fortune in Mens Eyes

Promo Film Still from Fortune and Men’s Eyes (1971)

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Attention Calgary Queers Achtung!

It is with some dismay that we learned about the City’s cancellation of the naked swim scheduled for this week at the Southland Leisure Centre. The outrage, disgust and threats of violence reached a fever pitch on social media. The City then capitulated to those threats under cover of a security review.

The outcome of that review has suggested that it’s not prudent for us to proceed at this point in time, out of concern related to the safety of all users,” said James McLaughlin, from Calgary Recreation Services, last Thursday.

Calgary’s LGBTQ community has experienced the same moral outrage and acts of threatened and real violence in its history. In fact, the verbiage these anti-nudist thugs are using is eerily similar.

Opponents vowed to bring baseball bats to perform acts of violence. We know that threat.

Opponents vowed to publicly shame event goers. We know that threat.

Opponents labelled nudists, “paedophiles.” We know that threat.

gay bashing

Pre-internet social media: posted on the door of Gay and Lesbian Academic Students and Staff (GLASS) office at U of C in 1992 – the culprits were never found…

One person shockingly wrote on the Southland Leisure Centre’s Facebook page: “Hopefully, people like this will be invited to enter the ovens.” We sadly know that threat too. In the Holocaust, an estimated 15,000 gay men were “invited” to concentration camps to be exterminated.

Perhaps unwittingly, this author evoked more complicated German history than they intended. Early 20th century Germany saw a dramatic blossoming of naturism, the nudist cultural movement, that continued through the Weimar Republic of the 1920s, eventually gaining 100,000 members. (The Weimar state also tolerated homosexuals which the rising National Socialist (Nazi) Party claimed was decadent and immoral).

In March 1933, Hermann Göring, one of the highest ranking members of the Nazi Party passed laws limiting mixed sex nudism, as a reaction to the “immorality” of the Weimar Republic. In January 1934, Wilhelm Frick, Reichmeister for the Interior, passed edicts restricting naturism due to fears that it bred communists and homosexuals.

If we want our right to live in a society free from discrimination and bias, we must protect others whose liberties are attacked. Calgary Nude Recreation, the organization who planned the cancelled event, calls their modern day opponents, “terrorists.”  They are accepting donations to challenge the City going forward: here.

We will be making a donation.

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Reading yycgayhistory for the holidays

The Queerly Festive Dinner and Show was a great success with more than 200 people gathering in good cheer. It was at this event that the YYC Legacy Project released its “Story Map.” This interactive map collected the feedback of 400 people who participated in the project’s community consultation process.

You can find the Story Map: here. It is recommended and engaging reading for the holiday season.

The YYC Legacy Project will be embarking on Phase II in the new year, which will include design charettes and other public input initiatives to further refine the idea of what a community commemoration project will look like. Please participate as you are able.

Our friend, Aftin, from Theatre Junction, asked us to let you know about the queer multidisciplinary performance, MDLSX, which they are presenting January 25-27, as part of the High Performance Rodeo. Tickets start at $20 at theatrejunction.com.

MDLSX_header

Finally, it recently occurred to us that the Calgary Gay History Project started about five years ago. Our history continues to surprise and inspire us. Thank you, readers, for your ongoing enthusiasm for this work.

We warmly wish you a safe and joyous holiday season with a good slip into 2018!

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