ManPlay.com Rounds Up Information on Gay Pride Calgary

The idea of a Gay Pride Parade has been ridiculed by many anti-gay and uninformed individuals, with comments like ‘why do they need a parade? It’s not like there is a Straight Pride Parade.’ It would be a similar argument given to the Black Lives Matter movement, with comments like ‘all lives matter.’ Heterosexuals are not a minority, nor are Caucasians, and those who are in the majority tend to have more social power (white, straight, men being on the top of that social power hierarchy), and do not need public recognition. The need for Gay Pride celebrations often stem from the need of awareness, especially in the late 60’s to the early 90’s when the homosexual community had gone through many social and political struggles. Many original Gay Pride Parades in North America have started as protest, or in commemoration of police brutality against the homosexual community. Many Gay Pride celebrations now form as a way for a community to show support of homosexuals, in an attempt to promote acceptance.

The province of Alberta is home to some of the most "manly of men," leaving the stigma that the gay community isn’t up to those heteronormative expectations, not to mention that traditionally Alberta is more of a conservative state. This leaves many homosexual men hiding their true nature to their family, friends and colleagues in fear of ridicule or isolation. This is why Gay Pride Calgary was formed, in hopes of opening the minds and changing the views of those who view the gay community negatively. Gay Pride Calgary is run and organized by a non-profit organization called Pride Calgary. The eleven day long, city wide celebrations has been running for technically 26 years, but only 25 years officially. The goal of Calgary Pride for Gay Pride Calgaryis to free the city from discrimination against gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation, by promoting equality and celebrating Calgary’s diversity.

The Organizers of Gay Pride Calgary

The Pride Calgary Planning Committee operates as a volunteer board of directors, who are directly responsible for the planning and execution of the annual Pride Parade and Festival. The board of directors are the group of volunteers the run everything that has to do with Gay Pride Calgary. The board members are:

President-Stephen Wright
Vice President and Producer-Jason Kingsley
Secretary and Treasurer-Graham Kingsley
Director of Administration-Trevor Ashcroft
Director of Marketing-Scott Crockatt
Director of Community Development-Amelia Marie Newbert
Director of Government Affairs-Craig Sklenar
Director of Volunteer Management-Kevin Wilson

Without these dedicated individuals, the celebrations known as Pride Calgary would never happen, and they deserve their recognition.

Another thing a large event like Gay Pride Calgary could not live without, which is sponsors. The list of sponsors are: ATB Financial (the main sponsor), Norton Rose FulbrightWinnersHomesenseMarshalls, McMillanAlberta Federation of LabourHyatt RegencyVillage Brewery98.5 Virgin RadioGlobal CalgaryFunny 1060 AMGay Calgary MagazinePattison Outdoor AdvertisingCJay 92, and Spartacus. With public support from The City of Calgary.

Gay Pride Calgary's Great Canadian History

When discussing the Gay Pride Calgary and Calgary’s history, there has to be a mention of the 1980 picketing of Calgary City Hall. In 1980, the University of Calgary was the host to a national gay rights conference, organized by Gay Information & Resource Calgary (GIRC). These conferences in the 1970s and 1980s would travel across Canada, stopping in different cities across the country. In each hosting city, the organizers would stage a human rights parade. In 1980, the 8th annual event was held in Calgary. However when it came down to running the human rights parade, City of Calgary Police Chief, Brian Sawyer, would not allow Gay Information & Resource Calgary to obtain the proper permits to legally host the parade. Chief Sawyer believed having a Gay Pride Parade would cause unwanted confrontations with the locals, but this did not stop the Gay Information & Resource Calgary from marching through the streets of Calgary, all the way up to City Hall.

The First March of Gay Pride Calgary

The march first started with only 40 of the national gay rights conference delegates, silently marching through Calgary up towards the City Hall with signage in hand. A member of the Gay Information & Resource Calgary, Bob Harris, was noted saying, "We do know how to conduct ourselves – we’re not running through the streets screaming and yelling." Delegates later moved to a rally in Centenary Park, located on St. George’s Island. Alberta Federation of Labor representative, Ken Neal, was one of the people to speak at the rally. In Neal's speech, he had spoken of his disappointment that the parade permit was denied. "Gays are constantly harassed," he said, "we object to such unfair and discriminatory treatment." (Calgary Gay History, 2013)

It is events like the one held by Gay Information & Resource Calgary in 1980 allowed other groups to grow and opened repressed cities like Calgary to the idea of equality among all their citizens. Without Gay Information Resource Calgary setting the foundation in Calgary, there wouldn’t be groups like Calgary Lesbian and Gay Political Action Guild, which later became Pride Calgary, the organization that runs the Gay Pride Calgary celebrations.

The first, unofficial, Gay Pride Calgary event was first held at Central Memorial Park, a park located in central Calgary's Beltline district, at 1221 2 Street Southwest in 1990. This event was marked by marchers wearing lone ranger masks or paper bags over their heads. It was in protest against the stigma that keeps the LGBTQ+ community ‘in the closest,’ many of the protesters also feared being identified while in the march, a real-life example of the stigma they were fighting against. Organized by the just emerging Calgary Lesbian and Gay Political Action Guild (CLAGPAG), this event was the first step towards any future Gay Pride Calgary celebrations and the organization Pride Calgary. In 2015, just last year, there was a new exhibit at the Royal Alberta Museum created to commemorate the first Gay Pride event in Calgary.

Gay Pride Calgary Makes Canadian History

June 16, 1991 is a year that would be remembered in Calgary’s gay community, as Mayor Al Duerr, the well liked Mayor of Calgary, had made an unpopular decision in light of the Stonewall events. Mayor Duerr had declared June 16-23, 1991 as the first "Gay Rights Week". Calgary’s 3rd Annual Pride Festival had a political rally that drew 400 attendees and marched down Stephan Avenue ending up at Calgary City Hall to hear MP Svend Robinson speak about the barriers facing the Gay and Lesbian Community in Alberta. "We are here to remind political leaders it is wrong in Alberta that it’s still legal to fire us from jobs, throw us from homes, and deny us goods and services because of who we love," Svend exclaimed in a speech that would be remembered by the gay community as inspiring and amazing. (Calgary Gay History, 2013Gay Rights Week was a decision well liked by the gay community, unfortunately the feeling was not mutual with other Calgarians. City Hall was bombarded with angry phone calls, calling for the reversal of Mayor Duerr’s Gay Rights Week. With political push back from the city’s alderman (the person next in line to be Mayor if anything were to happen to the current Mayor) and other anti-gay protestors, Mayor Duerr was pressured in renouncing his decision, proclaiming that that he had made a mistake, with the Gay Right’s Week only officially running for that one year.

You Cannot Stop Gay Pride Calgary

Not all was lost for Gay Pride in Calgary, as in 1992, the LBGTQ+ community announced Gay and Lesbian Pride Week, creating their own week of celebrations without permission from the City Hall. In 1993, as a result of the Calgary Gay and Lesbian Pride Week, Edmonton Mayor Jan Reimer, started Edmonton’s first Gay and Lesbian Pride Day. (Calgary Gay History, 2013)

In 2001, former Prime Minister Joe Clark was the grand marshal for Gay Pride Calgary, making him the first former Prime Minister of Canada to be so involved in a Pride event. (CBC News, 2001) On the same sort of topic, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was the first mayor to attend the city’s parade as the grand marshal. In that same year the NHL team Calgary Flames to sponsor a float in the parade for the first time.

Gay Pride Calgary; Statistics to Think About

According to census Canada, Gay Pride Calgary first started, in 1991, the population in the city was sitting at about 710,795. The statistics in Calgary in 2013, which was the last census taken in the city, stated that the province's population stands at 1,364,827. Based on the patterns of growth from census year to census year, which was about 11% in the past 20 years, one could estimate that in 2016 the population could be close to 1.4 million people.

It is expected that roughly 25,000 people are expected to attend Gay Pride Calgary this year. With an population of 1.4 million people, a 25,000 attendee prediction only makes about 1% of the city's population is expected to attend the 2016 Gay Pride Calgary celebrations. The main events are typically during Labor Day weekend (Friday, Sept. 2 up until Monday, Sept. 5, 2016), but Gay Pride Calgary week officially starts on August 26.

Past and Present Events of Calgary Pride

Although not much information can be found on past events at Gay Pride Calgary, there will be a parade and the event they call Pride in the Park. All of the Gay Pride Calgary events take place along 9th Avenue South, along the Beltline District, in the heart of Calgary.

The marches that took place in Calgary that started what is now the Gay Pride Calgary.

Calgary Pride Parade- Gay Pride Calgary

September 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
9th Avenue South

The Gay Pride Calgary parade will feature floats from all over the city, along with volunteers who will be marching in the parade. The parade will be marching across 9th Avenue South, along the Beltline District, and will be held on Sunday, September 4th, beginning at noon. The 2016’s Gay Pride Calgary has announced recently that Calgary born Rae Spoon will be the Grand Marshal. Spoon is a Canadian musician and writer, a best description of their eclectic music is a combination of indie rock and folk punk styles. Spoon is a trans man, and prefers the pronouns they/their, and has been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.

Pride in the Park- Gay Pride Calgary

September 4, 2016 at 12:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Shaw Millennium Park, 1220 9th Ave Southwest

Pride in the Park is Calgary’s largest free outdoor celebration, which takes place in the Shaw Millennium Park, a skate park located 1220 9 Avenue Southwest, in the heart of Calgary, within the Beltline District of the city. The celebration takes place immediately following the Gay Pride Calgary Parade. At Pride in the Park there will be live music on the main stage, and in the family zone you will find family friendly activities for youth and children alike, but the adults can enjoy a cold beer or a refreshing cocktail in the Village Brewery Beer Gardens. All refreshments will be supplied by a local brewery called Village Brewery, which began with friends sharing beers and dreams for a community brewery. The brewery wanted to create a place that would support Calgary’s artists and craftspeople, and along with that, is a partner with Gay Pride Calgary. It is a brewery that creates amazing and unique ales and lagers.

Last year,they started the Gay History Walking Tour, which gave people a chance to learn more about historical social and political events that had a significant impact on Calgary’s LGBTQ+ community, a lot of which was mentioned in this article. The Gay History Walking Tour was such a success, that Gay Pride Calgary hopes to once again do the walk this year.

Gay Pride Calgary Resources

If you would like to check out any of the sources used in this ManPlay article, below are all sources used in the order found in this article:

Calgary Gay History- https://calgaryqueerhistory.ca/2013/08/15/placard-waving-homosexuals-picket-city-hall/

Calgary Gay History- https://calgaryqueerhistory.ca/2013/08/29/calgarys-first-pride-parade-1991/

CBC News, Calgary Pride Parade- http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/clark-leads-gay-pride-parade-in-calgary-1.262648