Tag Archives: history

Special day today!

Fifty years ago today, Calgary’s gay community had its self-described first “public” function. It was reported that on Halloween 1968, “about 100 nervous Gays showed dressed to the nines” at the Highland Golf and Country Club. This event, gave those anxious organizers courage to start the first gay clubs in the city.

Today, I just received the keys to my office on the top floor of the New Central Library. The building brought tears to my eyes and took my breath away. What an honour to be appointed as its first Historian in Residence. It is astounding to me that in fifty years we have come so far as a community – from hidden and underground to lofty and visible.

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Book Cover Image: Club Carousel Woodcut by Calgary Artist Lisa Brawn

Additionally, Our Past Matters: Stories of Gay Calgary has gone to the printers. We expect it to be here in three weeks! We are sorting out the book launch currently (more details to come), but soon you will be able to read it (finally)!

Thank you for your patience in the book writing process. So much has happened with the Calgary Gay History Project in the last four years that informed the final text. I hope you will find it was worth the wait.

{KA}

A moment for Vriend on Monday…

April 2, 2018, marks the 20th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Vriend v Alberta, which made discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal across Canada.

Twenty years ago, I remember a jubilant Thursday evening. My co-workers at A-Channel did not seem to think it was such a big deal. They bemusedly tried to peel me off the ceiling so I could focus on my job, lighting the evening news. When I made it to a gay bar that night, it felt like the weekend came early, combined with Mardi Gras, Halloween and Christmas.

Vriend kiss

Delwin Vriend, right, gets a congratulatory kiss from partner Andrew Gagnon at a post-verdict rally at the Edmonton Legislature. [Photo Credit: The Canadian Press/Kevin Frayer]

Our post about the Vriend case in 2017 was one of the most read articles on the Calgary Gay History Project website to date. In honour of the 20th Anniversary, some new work has been written about the trials. Of particular note, is the accomplished Paula Simons and her work in the Edmonton Journal:

How the Vriend case established LGBTQ rights 20 years ago in Alberta — and across Canada

Gay rights pioneer Delwin Vriend didn’t set out to a be hero. He became one anyway.

From the Archives: The Vriend case is about bigotry

On March 19th, the University of Alberta hosted a forum and panel discussion for the Vriend anniversary (which Simons also moderated) called Pride or Prejudice? Celebrating LGBTQ2 RightsThe panel featured many of the legal minds working on the case in the 90s. This discussion of LGBTQ2 legal history was recorded for those of us who could not make it to Edmonton and is posted online.

The video is recommended viewing. There are many colourful recollections from the panellists that develop the story of the legal tussles encountered. Moreover there are interesting anecdotes, like Vriend v Alberta being cited internationally, such as in a recent court challenge in Belize which struck down their anti-sodomy laws in 2016.

So on Monday, take a moment to be thankful for the Vriend decision, and to all those who assisted in carrying us to victory some 20 years ago. Pause also to consider the approximately 400 million LGBTQ2 persons globally who live under the threat of criminal imprisonment, violence or even death because of who they are and who they love.

{KA}

 

 

In the Big House

This week we are in Ottawa combing through the stacks of Library and Archives Canada. Having just gone through the Klippert Supreme Court Case files (hooray), there are now three boxes from the Delwin Vriend Supreme Court Case files to go through…

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Library and Archives Canada is virtually next door to the Supreme Court, and it is poignant to be researching historical documents at the place where they were originally created.

We are on a mini-hiatus now until our upcoming 25th Anniversary screening of My Own Private Idaho on Tuesday, October 11th with the Calgary Cinematheque Society. Look for our next Calgary gay history blog post on Thursday that week.

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{KA}