May 252012
Calgary, Canada

For the past 14 years, the Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival has been bringing a wide variety of diverse films and documentaries to Calgary, a city that many across the country might assume would not be so welcoming of such an event.

As the festival opens, there are no protests or any groups calling for it to be shut down. Its popularity and longevity is a sign of just how far we’ve come as a city and it’s a wonder that the rest of Canada hasn’t realized just how gay-friendly Calgary has become.

While Toronto and Vancouver often get all the attention when it comes to celebrating gay diversity, Calgary has been making huge progress in accepting anyone that chooses to live in the city where it snows years round. Calgarians have grown incredibly supportive of festivals, parades and other events that support all types of diversity.

As with many cities, such resounding support is a relatively new development. A lot of Calgarians fought tirelessly for the rights of the LGBT community in Alberta, but it would be silly for the rest of Canada to go on and ignore just how much progress our city has made, especially given our dated redneck reputation.

Sure our Pride Parade doesn’t attract millions of people like Toronto’s; actually ours barely closes down a single street. But it’s one that is fully supported and attended by the mayor, Toronto does not have that. We might not have a fully developed gay neighbourhood like Vancouver does, but I’m hoping that’s because Calgary is a place where you can live anywhere and feel the same love and support that places like Davie St. and Church St. offer in bigger cities.

Of course, Alberta still has a long way to go. There will always be people who are against LGTB rights; they’ll probably appear in the comments section as soon as this column is published online.

And as recently as 2010, some doctors continued to bill this province for treating homosexuality as a mental disorder. Local establishments like Club Sapian and Jaroblue, both pillars in the gay community, have recently closed their doors and FabBbar will soon do the same.

So there’s work to do, which is fine. Since when does this city not like to work hard?

As the Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival continues to grow in popularity and acceptance, I hope that the rest of Canada will take notice, because it’s just another example of how much this city has changed, which, in this case, is a really big deal.

Mike Morrison