OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Calgary

My former MP, Rob Anders, a fierce opponent of “homosexual sex marriage,” has once again done something incredibly dumb. Rick Mercer explains it nicely.

Kool 105.5, a Calgary-based radio station, is tackling bullying with a pretty novel incentive: A contest. The school that signs the most pledges asserting that everyone has “the right to feel safe, respected, valued, and accepted” will get a free concert performed during school hours. Of course, if anyone breaks the pledge, all memory of the concert will be surgically removed by a brain specialist.

Calgary Mayor Leads Pride Parade For First Time

September 7th, 2011

People parade through a field of hay.

Calgary may not have the reputation of being a particularly tolerant city, but that perception could change sooner than one might think. For one, Calgarians elected a surprisingly progressive mayor last year. Naheed Nenshi won by a comfortable margin thanks in large to an active youth vote, assembled into action via social media. And now, from this involved base of progressives, the city’s mayor has—for the first time ever—led the city’s annual Pride parade.

For some history, Calgary—the largest city in the Canadian prairies—hasn’t been particularly welcoming of Pride celebrations in the past. It famously rescinded a Gay Pride proclamation in the early 90s following angry public demonstrations. Even more recently, any public visibility by the city’s GLBT community is usually accompanied by protesters, an annual occurrence at the Pride parade, as well as events like the regional Outgames in 2007.

Needless to say, I think the growing visibility and comfort of the GLBT community is wonderful, and already a big change from my experience living in Calgary in the mid 2000s. So, thank you, Mayor Nenshi, for representing all Calgarians!

Calgary Mom Launches Anti-Homophobia Campaign

August 24th, 2011

Bus Ads: "You probably have Lupus." "Crappy Community College" "Gum!"

A Calgary mom has launched a new anti-homophobia campaign that will be gracing various public transit vessels in the city starting this September.

The campaign was originally conceived after the mother, who wishes to be identified only as Gail, became fed up with the harassment her teenage daughter has had to endure. Having worked on the campaign since May with help from Calgary Outlink, Gail said she thinks the message will pay off. “Calgary isn’t always known to be the most accepting city,” she told the media. “But there is this section of beautiful people that are coming up; we have to honour that part of our society.”

Personally, I think this is a wonderful little example about how one person, no matter where you may find yourself, can help make a difference. Transit ads might not instantly rid the world of homophobia, and they might not open up closed minds on the spot, but they will add an extra dose of daily visibility. Gay youth will get a quick reminder that they aren’t alone, and people whose minds are still clouded with homophobic sentiment will find themselves with another challenge.

Plus it’s something nicer to look at in the mornings than mobile phone ads. And everyone can appreciate that.

Anti-Gay Church Stripped Of Charitable Status

January 25th, 2010

The Kings Glory Fellowship, a Protestant church in Calgary, Alberta, has lost their tax exempt status because they spent too much time involved in political activities outside the church, including actively campaigning against gay rights.

Religious officials are pretty miffed, including Calgary’s Bishop Fred Henry, who said this incident was “clearly meant to muzzle religious leaders.”

Yes, I can see it now… Dusk falls at the offices of Canada Revenue Agency. The government’s tax regulators congregate in full accountant regalia, sworn brothers in a secret plot to locate Calgary’s religious leaders and attach leather jaw restraints while they sleep.

I’m actually a little disappointed that the truth is so much more boring.

Tax exemptions, you see, are only available for charitable causes, not political ones. If a church wishes to actively affect policy for those that have nothing to do with its religion or beliefs, it becomes part of the public sphere and must contribute to it with income and property taxes. Once they do, they’re free to go outside of their congregations to lecture, publish, organize, put on charming foil hats, bang on pots and pans for effect, terrorize minority groups with neon placards, and do all the other things that wacky, anti-gay lobby and activist groups do. No leather jaw restraints required.

If a church doesn’t want to contribute to the public realm with taxes, then they can abide by their own decision and limit their political influence to inside their private congregations. Well, at least 90% of their influence, anyway. They’re allowed 10% for some reason. See? Who said the CRA isn’t generous?

Calgary Stampede Puts Out Homophobic Survey

January 8th, 2010

The Calgary Stampede, Calgary’s annual carnival and rodeo, has launched a marketing research survey that asks respondents for opinions on blatantly sexist and homophobic statements. Gems include “The only acceptable definition of a family is a husband, wife and children,” and “Some jobs are best suited to men. Women should just accept this.”

Doug Fraser, a spokesperson for the Stampede, said that the statements don’t reflect the opinions of the Stampede, but are part of an standard research package to help develop a product that reflects a “rapidly changing community.”

Oh, I get it! They’re not being homophobic and sexist at all; they just want to tailor a unique Calgary Stampede experience to people that are. How thoughtful!

Yvonne Brouwers, president of the research firm that developed the statements, said that the questions have been used without incident for 15 years and are designed to identify divisive opinions to “get a better understanding of differences and similarities.”

Yep, those statements sound 15 years old alright. I wonder what ads and events they’ll help shape…

Urban Art Project Turns Into Homophobic Mess

September 9th, 2009

I'll call him Angry Wally.

An attempt to designate a section of a Calgary skate park as a legal spraypainting zone backfired last month, in what one alderman has called “a barrage of visual diarrhea.”

I love street art, but from the sounds of this CBC article, the work of these budding young artists wasn’t exactly gallery-worthy:

[Alderman John Mar] said it appears “mayhem ensued,” and people descended on the park with spray paint, covering every surface with tags, profanity and homophobic and anti-police statements, including urinals in the men’s washroom.

“We can’t have anti-homosexual slogans. We can’t have profanity. What we have done now is taken the park back for the citizens of Calgary and the youth that want to use it in a clean and friendly matter.”

Yikes! Not exactly a raging success, was it? At least the city has the good sense to correct it. After a quick order, city workers are reportedly busy scrubbing all the homophobic slogans off the Landmark building, keeping that sort of sentiment squarely in the mouths of politicians, media commentators, and church officials—you know, where it has always been.

And Now, Some Anonymous Hate Mail

June 27th, 2008

The Mailbag

Most disagreements that arrive in my inbox are encouragingly civil; the few that aren’t normally simmer down after some friendly communication. Every now and then, though, I take the time to respond to concerns from a particularly nasty message only to discover that the email address is fake—posted anonymously from the guestbook or some other online source. These are their stories.

Jonny from Calgary, writes:

Not an actual photoAs you boundless hatred for Calgary (and I suppose those of us who are out and proud and making this city more fabulous than you ever could) is so evident I’m shocked at your complete lack of awareness or reflection on your own adopted city. In particular, your post about Calgary being Canada’s “hate crime capital” was full of your typical ignorance. Calgary actually KEEPS hate crime stats (other cities do not- Saskatoon for example reported zero hate crimes to statcan because Saskabush police don’t bother keeping stats) AND Calgary counts every instance of vandalism (by far the most common “hate crime” here) as a separate crime- so when two yahoos (from Quebec, naturally, the source of most of this country’s racists) painted swastikas all over garage doors in Hillhurst, EVERY ONE counted separately as a hate crime. That was a dozen hate crimes! Toronto doesn’t do this, and Montreal- well guess what city has the highest rate of hate crimes based on victim surveys (not based on police practice?) MONTREAL, my misinformed girlfriend! Montreal, home of the synagogue bomber AND the people who attack hijab-wearing women, not t mention the murderers of “feminists” en masse. Do you even bother to ask why Calgary has, now, more (more by far) visible minorities AND immigrants per capita than does Montreal? It’s because you live in the black heart of racism and hate in general in Canada. But then that’s probably what attracted you there in the first place.

You’re a decent illustrator but regardless I am going to make damn sure that you never get more work from Calgary magazines. Asshole.

Ouch! OK, I surrender! Calgary is friendly; just, please, stop pummeling me!

In fairness, I like to poke fun at Alberta (my home province), and especially Calgary, for its inordinate number of anti-gay lobbyists, but I don’t hate it. I rib because I love. Calgary is where I got my master’s degree and, more importantly, where I met my fiancé.

I do believe there is a connection between hysteria over gay people and hate crimes, so the Statistics Canada report about Calgary having the highest per-capita hate crime rate was a good opportunity to write about how anti-gay rhetoric (which frequents the Alberta media) has unintended consequences.

Hitler Youth (Somehow I don’t think that’s his or her real name) writes:

Reader Mail Headshot I love what you are doing with your website. If we can continue to indoctrinate the youth of this world to reject critical analysis of any and all ideas that conflict with the LGBT agenda, then someday soon we will RULE this world because nobody will have any idea how to argue against ANY of our ideology. The Fuhrer did it once successfully and so with consistent effor we will be successful too. Long live the revolution.

Oh, you! You’re a hoot.

Well, have a great weekend, folks! And, while I’m on the subject, thanks to everyone who has written in with encouragement, kind words, and even civil disagreements. Be sure to check out my full-page illustration in today’s Swerve Magazine on the upcoming Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo!

Calgary Most Hateful City in Canada

June 11th, 2008

Suprise!

Calgary has topped the list of the most hate crimes committed per capita of any city Canada, according to a report released by Statistics Canada this week. The study also noted that gays are more likely to be the victims of violent hate crimes nationwide than any other minority group.

Neither statistic comes as any surprise. Alberta is home to several individuals who seem to have nothing better to do than publicly voice their distaste for gay people.

Off the top of my head: This week, Stephen Boisson is appealing a human rights ruling that made him apologise for a hateful letter that may have incited a violent anti-gay attack; Last year, Bishop Fred Henry called same-sex marriage a worse betrayal of children than the Catholic Church’s sex scandals, refused to give communion wafers to politicians that supported equal marriage rights, and separately said that gays are as evil as prostitutes and adulterers; Rob Anders, MP for Calgary West, crafted pamphlets linking same-sex marriage with violent gun crimes and crystal meth usage—and mailed them to another constituently entirely; Ted Morton introduced legislation that would have forced teachers to stop all discussions of same-sex marriage unless each student received written parental permission; Ralph Klien used the obscure Notwithstanding Clause to outlaw same-sex marriage in the province before the federal law took hold; Bill Whatcott based an entire mayoral campaign (seriously!) on countering homosexuality, while Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier announced in a mayoral debate that he doesn’t “condone” gay people; and Craig Chandler had his Tory nomination revoked because of anti-gay hate speech published on his website.

With such passionate and unnecessary rhetoric in the province, it’s no wonder that some people get the idea that it’s OK to react violently to gay people. Alberta’s biggest city now has three times the national average of actual hate crimes.

Calgary Mayor Doesn’t “Condone” Gays

October 12th, 2007

Livin’ The Mayoral Lifestyle

Calgary’s mayor, Dave Bronconnier, announced at a mayoral debate on Wednesday that he could not “condone” the gay “lifestyle,” adding that if he had any choice in the matter, he would not have allowed Tourism Calgary to promote the city to gays. The mayor’s remarks were in response to an audience member’s complaint that her tax dollars were spent on a tourism campaign directed at gays and lesbians. (The poor dear!)

The woman, who angrily waved the tourism ad in her hand while asking the question, is one of Calgary’s many crazies who just have to declare how much they dislike gays at every available public venue, adding to the city’s unique image and charm. While the mayor said that the tourism agency’s marketing campaigns is not under his jurisdiction, he also felt compelled to sympathize with the question-asker instead of leaving the whole thing out of his hands.

Of course, when pressed by reporters to clarify his remarks, Bronco said it was the lady’s question that he wouldn’t condone. He did not clarify why he wouldn’t have allowed the Tourism Calgary campaign, or what his “lifestyle” comment was referring to.

As a former Calgary resident, I’m just happy to no longer be living somewhere where people go out of their way to distance themselves from my “lifestyle” (which I just call my “life;” it’s not terrifically different from anyone else’s).

Updates From The (Pink) Road

September 19th, 2007

Road Slap

Hey, kids! Well, I’ve successfully defended my master’s thesis, and now it’s time to head even further west to see family. While on the road, here are some stories and updates that caught my eye:

The town of Truro, Nova Scotia, has adopted an official flag-flying policy to avoid any more situations like this summer’s Pride flag fiasco, in which the mayor compared gays to pedophiles. The new policy is straightforward, too: From now on, government flags only.

Statistics from the 2006 national census are in, and when it comes to the same-sex figures, things are clearly up for interpretation:

Speaking of census data, a Calgary SUN article has asserted: “Calgary is holding the fort in a country where the notion of the traditional family is increasingly under siege, states a federal census.” Really? The federal census states the traditional family is under siege? Or perhaps this is just a little bit of phrasing bias coming from Alberta’s gayest city.

With all the attention Alvaro Orozco has been getting, there’s a great article in NOW magazine reminding us that this is not an isolated case. Leonardo Zuniga, another gay refugee, is slated for deportation within the next few weeks. Why not take a couple minutes to help him out?

Until Friday, kids!

Magazine Names Canada’s 5 Gayest Cities

April 13th, 2007

Pro-Family Migration Patterns

Out Traveler, a gay and lesbian travel magazine, has named Canada’s top 5 gayest cities. While I’m not going to list them here, let’s just say that Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montréal should be expecting a few extra gay tourists this year! Wait, that might be a little too obvious. How about: Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal should be expecting a few fewer intolerant tourists this year. Yes, that’ll do.

As for my thoughts on the selections… Having grown up in Edmonton until my early 20s, I can authoritatively say: “Huh?” Mind you, things have probably changed in the city’s gay community, of which I knew pretty much nothing, having been closeted for the entire time. Plus, Edmonton still has the world’s largest shopping mall. That’s pretty gay, right?

So, congratulations to the cities that made the cut! And may all the ones that didn’t have an absolutely traditional Friday the 13th.

Calgary Launches Gay Outgames

April 4th, 2007

Calgary OutGames

Well, they did it! The first-ever Continental Outgames was launched this week in Calgary, Alberta. The games are supposedly the largest gay-themed event ever held in the province of Alberta (the second-biggest being the time I accidentally bumped into another guy on the C-Train).

While I questioned the choice in venue before, it does go to show that Alberta isn’t all Ted Mortons, Fred Henrys, Rob Anders…ses, and Ralph Kleins. Happily, the games have been met with enthusiasm, and the coinciding human rights conference has brought some extra perspective to Cowtown. The games have even drawn some influential speakers: Judy Shepard gave a passionate speech about gay awareness, and comedian Lily Tomlin is scheduled to close the games on Saturday.

So, overall, I guess there wasn’t much to worry about! Or maybe those delightfully wacky, “non-hateful” protesters just haven’t finished their Thursday night homophobic sign crafting class. Either way: So far, so good!

In semi-related news, the amazingly tasteful and universally adored editors at Calgary’s Swerve Magazine have apparently commissioned some awesomely gay illustrations for their issue on the Outgames. I haven’t seen it in person myself, but professional framers are predicting that the cover picture may become more popular than Whistler’s Mother… Or, uh, so I’ve been told.

Well, have a great Wednesday, kids!

Tourism Calgary: “We’re Gay-Friendly, Really!”

January 12th, 2007

Calgary Gay Tourism

Ah, the power of the pink dollar! Tourism Calgary has started promoting the city to gay and lesbian tourists after the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce announced that Canada’s gay travelers spend over $7 billion annually. Joe Connelly, the vice president of Tourism Calgary, was especially quick to chime in, announcing that “Calgary is very gay friendly.”

Now, as a former Calgarian myself, I’d love to suggest a few of the amazing gay sights that the city has to offer. In fact, I think I have a travel review kicking around here… Ah, yes; here we go!

Calgary, Canada’s Most Gay-Aware City!

Whether you’re gay, lesbian, or simply not a bigot, Calgary is sure to offer a unique “culture-shock” experience you won’t soon forget! Located in the heart of Alberta, Calgary is world-renowned for its fascinatingly homogeneous culture. Spend an afternoon marveling at the city-wide hick pride festival (locally known as the Calgary Stampede), admiring a cowboy hat in the local shops, or simply wincing at the country music scene.

Gay travelers are in for a particularly special treat! Calgary’s only gay bar, Twisted Element, is located in the downtown’s eerie west side. If you find references to Detour, Boystown, RekRoom, or other gay-friendly establishments in any tour guide, don’t skip out just because they’ve closed down! Any of these empty buildings would make an atmospheric and affordable movie set.

Calgary’s annual gay pride parade is a must-see spectacle, unique for having marchers outnumber spectators, and its nationally-reported protester incidents! Gay issues are always at the forefront of the city’s consciousness, and stories will be featured prominently in the six o’clock newscasts. You’ll enjoy such street question segments as A-Channel’s January 18, 2005 poll: “Do you think that same-sex marriage is in the same category as adultery, prostitution, and pornography?” The results (51% yes, 49% no) will surely be an interesting conversation-starter when you get back!

So come to Calgary! If it’s good enough for Stephen Harper, Ralph Klein, Bishop Fred Henry, and Rob Anders to call home, it’s good enough for you to visit!

Ah, memories… Well, until Monday, folks!

Update: In researching for an article, Kevin Libin from The National Post wrote in with a correction. There is, indeed, more than one gay bar left in Calgary. My apologies, folks!

Bishop Fred Henry, Off The Deep End

September 18th, 2006

Bishop Fred Henry Activity Page

Looks like Calgary’s own Bishop Fred Henry has added a little something to my (unofficial) Canadian Collection Of Defamatory Quotes™:

[Same-sex marriage] is the worst betrayal of children I’ve ever seen—even more so than the Catholic church sex scandals.

Ah, yes. Words that would elicit an awed horror if spoken anywhere other than the ostensibly titled Let’s Talk About Children’s Rights forum. The forum, held last Thursday in Calgary, was, naturally, composed entirely of hysterical anti-gay rhetoric. Speakers included Ted Morton and Syed Soharwardy, in addition to the not-so-good bishop, who uttered the above nonsense.

No One To Challange Anders… Again

August 25th, 2006

I am Con-Tor!

OK, in your best “soup nazi” voice: No reason for you! Next!

Walter Wakula, former Tory riding president for Calgary West, will not be allowed to challenge incumbent wacko MP, Rob Anders, for nomination. Absolutely no reason was given for Wakula’s disqualification, leaving everyone to scratch their head noisily—an action that Tories seem to evoke quite easily these days.

Anders (who, incidentally, was my MP before I got the hell out of Calgary), is best known as the sole dissenter in giving Nelson Mandela honorary Canadian citizenship, calling the man a communist and a terrorist. I remember Anders more for his crafting of flyers that linked crystal meth usage to “homosexual sex marriage” and mailing them to the wrong constituency.

So, why wouldn’t the conservative party allow a less controversial MP to run alongside Anders for the nomination when a clearly qualified former riding president is available? My guess: Anders is an undercover alien involved in a large conspiracy to slightly warm the rightmost chairs in the House of Commons! This is top secret stuff, folks…

Bishop Fred Henry: Wafer Nazi

August 4th, 2006

No Wafer For You!

Retroactive Slap Another hysterically anti-gay nut from Calgary? Get out!

Fred Henry, a bishop from Calgary, wrote a pastoral letter (not quite as lovely as that sounds, trust me) that equated gays to prostitutes and pornographers, pressuring the government to do something about it. The wording wasn’t exactly subtle either. Well, you be the judge:

Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the state must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good.

Funny… The government did end up acting in the interests of the common good! You’d think Fred should be happy, but, well… Far be it from him to judge others, but after same-sex marriage became law, he judged all the politicians that voted for equality and refused to give them communion wafers. Oh, then he suggested that Prime Minister Paul Martin, should be excommunicated from the church. Bitter much, Fred?

Although, in fairness, we’ve all had our moments. I once wouldn’t let my best friend play at my house until he gave me back my He-Man action figure back in 1986.

Well, that, folks, was retroactive slap week! Up-to-date stories shall appear starting Monday!

Continental Outgames Gets Unlikely Host

July 24th, 2006

Bigot Haven

With the 1st World Outgames in Montréal set to be an amazing success, it’s time for the spinoffs! In fact, the 1st Contentental Outgames for North America are already set to be held in April next year! And the host city is…

Calgary, Alberta.

No, really. You know, the same province where bans on same-sex marriage are still being mulled over, where the provincial government nearly passed legislation making it legal for teachers to refuse to acknowledge that same-sex marriage exists, where the Premier promises to make it legal for marriage comissioners to refuse to file the provincial paperwork for gay couples, and the same city where Pride parade protesters caused a huge scene out of fear of contracting AIDS… That Calgary.

Of course, the game planners are aware of Calgary’s, uh, less-than-friendly reputation, but Executive Director Brad Bostock, thinks this won’t be a problem.

There are perceptions that Calgary may not be the most hospitable city to host this, but we’ve hosted the Western Cup. Next year will be our 25th anniversary.

I see… But, really, I think the games should go off without a hitch. After all, the best way to educate an irrationally anti-gay mind is to show the benefits of diversi—oh, who am I kidding; these wingnuts are going to protest day and night.

A Typical Calgary Pride Week

June 23rd, 2006

Pride Parade

Calgary’s police chief, Jack Beaton, warned anti-gay protesters that “there’s such a thing as provocation” last week, after a protester who chased and called a gay man a “disgusting homo” was given a hefty, retaliatory tackle.

While the tackling was, of course, rightfully condemned, the police chief’s warning isn’t going over well with some of the protesters. Jeff Willerton, who was holding a quaint little “No Pride in Sodomy” sign that day, published an open letter on Wednesday, stating that not only were his slurs “in no way considered hateful” (chortle), but also that he thinks his group was the one provoked. The poor dears! Unwillingly incited into crafting offensive signs and yelling slurs!

Observe their rationale:

Two men spit at us, missing me but hitting my friend. This caused a great deal of concern for my friend, who knows that AIDS-infected spit in the eye or in an open sore can lead to the transmission of the disease.

Oh, Snap! Seriously. All us gays must be like walking rainbows of death—ready to infect anyone who crosses our path of gayness with the GRIDS! Run for the hills!

Incidentally, Tyson McCann Cormack, the spitter, had this to say:

I was chased and yelled at and I’ve never done anything my whole life. Well, I was tired of it today. I went to spit near one guy, but I did not spit on him. I spat near him as a sign that I wasn’t impressed with [the slurs].

But, really, although the protesters were clearly being jerks, that doesn’t exonerate a physical attack. After all, no matter how hurtful the “pro-family” types can be—no matter how much they go out of their way to personally insult us gays on our only day of celebration—I only dole out metaphorical slaps. It’s just the cordial thing to do.