Tag Archives: calgary public library

Spotlight on YYC Gay History

It is with some excitement that we announce the Calgary Gay History Project getting a public profile boost this Autumn.

The short film, GROSS INDECENCY: THE EVERETT KLIPPERT STORYwe produced with director Laura O’Grady and Spotlight Productions, has been accepted into the Calgary International Film Festival (which opens tonight). It is screening three times, on September 22, 24, and 30. The latter being the “Best of Shorts” program at the festival – we are very honoured.

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Click the caption to watch the film on YouTube

Kevin Allen has been invited to be the very first Historian in Residence at the new Central Library opening downtown on November 1, 2018. It is a three-month community engagement residency that supports individual historians and researchers working in any genre related to Calgary’s social, cultural and built history.

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The New Central Library

Kevin will be working in a bright, designated office space on the fourth floor of the new Central Library and will engage with the public through programs such as open office hours, interactive workshops, and lectures.

As part of the residency, Kevin will curate an exhibit at the Library which will be displayed in May 2019. The residency program is a partnership between the Calgary Public Library and the Calgary Heritage Authority.

If any Calgary Gay History Project readers have programming ideas for the residency, please email Kevin at calgarygayhistory@gmail.com.

Enjoy the fall colours!

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Gaybasher Killed in Central Park

Central Memorial Park has a history of being a cruising park for gay men, and there are many related stories of police harassment there, as well as gay bashing incidents in the now gentrified Beltline greenspace.  Yet one night, in 1979, the tables turned and a gay basher became a victim.

On Saturday, September 22nd at around 10 PM, a skirmish broke out in Central Memorial Park. The result was that Beltline resident, Thomas Earl Nash, aged 22, was stabbed in the neck with a broken bottle. A half dozen people surrounded the dying man, lying behind the Memorial Park Library.  One of Nash’s panicked friends managed to hail a cab driving by on 13th avenue, who then raced them to the Holy Cross Hospital.

Nash did not survive the night.  A silver jacket from one of the attackers was abandoned at the scene.  It was also reported that large blood stains on the sidewalk remained the next day.  The police reported that no motive had been established for the killing, but that drugs were not involved.

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Calgary Herald: Monday, September 24, 1979 page B1

The two men accused of the killing fled in a stolen car to Penticton, B.C. and were arrested by RCMP officers the following Tuesday. Brian Christopher Hawkurst, 20, and Greg Paul Spencer, 19, were charged with second-degree murder.

As the investigation proceeded, details emerged that Nash was one of three straight men who had been abusing gay men in the park. It seems that the gang of harassers hassled Hawkurst and Spencer, who then decided to hassle back. A chase ensued whereby Hawkurst and Spencer caught up to Nash at the alley behind the library, and attacked.

The alley, ironically, was well lit by a floodlight which had been installed the previous month at police request, to discourage homosexual activity in the area. Sadly, the cab driver who came to Nash’s aid reported that it was not the first time he had had to take a stabbed man from Central Memorial Park to the hospital.

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Photo: Park in 2011 by Mack Male on WikiCommons

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Finally, a Kid’s LGTBQ History Book!

With the current calls for recognizing LGTBQ diversity in Alberta schools, a timely new book aimed at educating children about LGTBQ history has just been released. Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGTB Rights focuses on the last 100 years of the struggle for human rights. With a brief section on the history pre-1900, this book focuses on personal stories and firsthand accounts of events, which makes reading easy and relatable for all. Even better, the writer Jerome Pohlen, has actively used the stories of non-whites and transgender people in the text.

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Gay & Lesbian History for Kids does not shy away from the truth, beautiful and terrible all in one. The book makes sure the reader understands this with the activities: they encompass many disciplines in arts and history that could be used in the classroom. One that is very poignant is to perform a monologue from the Laramie Project, a play on the murder of a young gay man, Matthew Sheppard, in 1998.

Because of its focus and content, this book is very much for older children and teenagers. The other caveat is that it focuses primarily on the American story, with some break out sections on English and Canadian issues. While important for Canadian readers to know these early origins, any educator will have to supplement the text with our own narratives.

At least, until someone writes a Canadian book for children on LGTBQ history. Any takers?

The book is available also at the Calgary Public Library.

Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights, with 21 Activities by Jerome Pohlen. From the For Kids series: Chicago Review Press (Oct 2015)

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