Tag Archives: Rupert Raj

Before the Net: Calgary’s 70s Gay Press

The history of gay publishing in Calgary goes back virtually 50 years. In a time before the internet existed, local gay publications served as an essential medium for bringing the community together. They served as the connective tissue to Calgary’s LGBT body politic: allowing for reflection, celebration, and debate. They also were the main advertising vehicle for promoting gay businesses and services.

Some publications were decidedly modest affairs and others more professional. The Calgary Gay History Project presents this stroll through our community’s past press – part one….

Carousel Capers: The newsletter of Club Carousel – this monthly publication which ran from 1969 to at least 1975, was a hand typed and drawn, mimeographed affair. It grew to 24+ pages in its heyday with columns such as Chatter Box, and Cecil’s secrets. Club business, including attendance figures, budgets and meeting minutes were presented – keeping the Club leaders accountable to their membership.

Gay Information and Resources Calgary (GIRC), founded in 1975, was Calgary’s first peer support centre and community hub. It had a series of publications changing format, name, and page length – with the occasional hiatus – as budgets and volunteers waxed and waned. GIRC’s first newsletter published in late 1976 became “Gay Moods” in 1977. In January 1978, the publication changed to newsprint and a tabloid design, called “Gay Calgary.” As GIRC helped spearhead the formation of the Alberta Lesbian and Gay Rights Association in 1979, Gay Calgary became provincial. They published the first issue of “Gay Horizons” in December 1979 with expanded distribution to Red Deer, Edmonton, and later, Medicine Hat.

Gender Review: Canada’s first national transgender publication was started in Calgary in 1978 under the leadership of Nicholas Ghosh (now Rupert Raj). In the 70s, a handful of local doctors created a leading gender dysphoria clinic based out of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine. Providing both counselling and surgical services, the Sexuality Clinic attracted trans individuals from across the country, like Ghosh, who later moved back to Toronto in 1979. Note: transgender replaced transsexual as a more expansive umbrella term for the trans community in the 1990s.

New Wine: a publication “printed for the ‘glory of God’ by members of a Christian fellowship” reads an early editorial. The monthly newsletter of Calgary’s Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), offered the meditations of a gay-positive church, as well as news, a community calendar and church happenings from MCC congregations across the country.

Dignity Alberta: was a combined newsletter for Dignity Calgary and Dignity Edmonton. Dignity chapters represented gay Catholics across the country and the 1978 issue reported a circulation of 100.

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-12-27-59-pm

The Calgary Gay History Project has an incomplete collection for many of these early publications. If you have any in storage and would like to donate them to the archives (we do not mind having multiple copies), please contact us – we can even pick them up.

{KA}

Victoria: Trans History Recap

We had a stimulating three days of exploring trans identity and trans history at the University of Victoria’s Moving Trans History Forward 2016 conference, March 17-20.Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 10.41.55 AMThe conference was a grounding in important dates, personalties, and terminology in the transgender community. It also touched on current issues such as the need for preservation of trans histories and the status of trans materials in larger queer collections such as at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA).

Academics, community activists, artists and historians created a stimulating jam-packed event. And like at most conferences, some of the most interesting conversations were with the person you found yourself sitting beside at lunch. One highlight was learning about the Transvengers web comic.  A collaborative project between trans youth and researchers at the University of Exeter, that saw the youth interact fantastically with sexologists from the past.

We were delighted to learn that there will be a trans history exhibition at the Nickle Galleries at the University of Calgary this June. Called Trans Trans, the show will explore the influence of Magnus Hirschfeld on Alfred Kinsey through images found in the Kinsey archive and others in popular culture. Trans Trans is curated by U of C history professor Annette Timm, and her academic partners, Michael Taylor (Portland, Oregon) and Rainer Herrn (Berlin, Germany).

We talked to trans activist, Rupert Raj, about his time in 1970’s Calgary, and his association with the Gender Identity clinic at the Foothills Hospital. Following the conference, we found sources in UVic’s Transgender Archives about the physicians who ran the clinic as well as more on the early days in Calgary of the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Transsexuals (FACT).

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 2.11.51 PM

Researchers: Kevin, Carter, Demetrios and Son at the UVic Trans Archives post-conference

{KA}

Trans History in YYC

In June 1978, a national Trans publication was began in Calgary. Called Gender Review: A FACTual Journal, it was the publication of the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Transsexuals (FACT), which began in January of the same year. The non-profit organization focussed on public education of gender dysphoria.

Gender Review‘s premier issue had an article  on “Transsexual Oppression” about Montrealer Inge Stephens; information about transsexual resources; news items such as trans woman Canary Conn’s appearance on the Phil Donahue show; and a listing of books and articles by and about trans people.

The founding president of FACT was Rupert Raj, who moved the organization and publication to Toronto in July 1979.  Raj has gone on to be a leading Trans activist and  educator in Ontario and Canada and in 2013 was inducted into the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA) National Portrait Collection.  His personal records are also housed at the CLGA as the Rupert Raj Trans* Collection.

National-Portrait-Galllery-Rupert-Raj (1)

The University of Victoria’s Moving Trans History Forward 2016 conference’s concluding event is a Founders Panel, on Sunday March 20th from 9:30 AM – noon.  Raj will be one of five panellists.  Unlike other conference events the Founders Panel is free and open to the public – we hope to see you there.

{KA}