Pride in Calgary dates back to 1987: a group of local gay and lesbian organizations created the Project Pride Calgary (PPC) that would produce Calgary's first Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival in June 1988 in honor of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York.
The first festival was very modest, with a music concert, workshop, community displays, a dance, and a family picnic. In 1989, the festival grew to a weeklong celebration and attracted more participating groups and pride nights at local bars. There was an AIDS play, a murder mystery night, and more concerts. The wind-up dance was held at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association hall.
In 1990, the neighboring city of Vancouver was holding the Gay Games. The Pride celebrations started with a fundraiser to help get Calgarians to the games. Some of the 150 participants wore masks or even paper bags over their heads to avoid being identified. The rest of the week had events every day, including a four-night film festival, a Rocky Mountain Singers concert, an invitational Slow-Pitch tournament with carnival games on the side, and then a Pride Dance at Victoria Park Hall.
The first Calgary Pride Parade occurred on June 16, 1991. Despite the political uproar, 400 people marched down Stephen Avenue, ending up at City Hall. Although the parade route frequently changed, sometimes on 17th Avenue, occasionally downtown, and ending in a party at Connaught School or Olympic Plaza, respectfully, the parade became an annual feature in Calgary.
Over the next decade, participation in the parade grew incrementally, despite random protesters and lousy weather. Calgary Pride moved the parade from June to the September long weekend in 2009 in hopes of better weather and more tourists. It also transitioned from a grassroots collective to an incorporated non-profit society that year. These changes proved successful, and the parade has enjoyed exceptional growth every year since. Calgary Pride is now managing one of Canada's fastest-growing Pride Parades.
For full details on Calgary Pride 2023 and all previous editions, be sure to check out the official event program. Happy Pride!