Column: The City has an obligation to protect all of its citizens, even if they’re not wearing clothes.
Jan 11, 2018
Today, news broke that the City of Calgary is cancelling an event that would see a group called Calgary Nude Recreation take to the pool and waterslides of Southland Leisure Centre for a sold out event. The group has held events for years without uproar, but for some reason this one struck with chord, surprisingly for all the wrong reasons.
If you had told me a few short days ago that I would spent the first days of 2018 defending Alberta nudists, I probably wouldn’t have believed you, but nothing about anything is predictable anymore and these people deserve to have their event.
Look, I know it was controversial. Some people felt that an all-ages event for nudists was putting children at risk. As a gay person, “children at risk” is basically what people tried to say about stopping our rights every single step of the way. These families grow up in nude homes, this isn’t their first time people being exposed to other people’s genitalia, and it certainly won’t be the last, whether they have an event or not. One group started a petition to stop the event, another group started a petition to stop that petition and our social media feeds were filled with debates for days on ends.
Well, today the City of Calgary canceled the event. But not because of safety concerns for children attending such an event. No, it was because the event was being threatened by people who wanted to shut it down.
— John Himpe (@JohnHimpe) January 11, 2018
In short, the City of Calgary couldn’t guarantee their safety, so they shut it down.
I can’t remember a time I’ve been so disappointed in the city I call home.
Now, don’t get me wrong. You’ll never catch me at anything resembling a nude-event, I’m basically a nevernude and likely as prudish as they come when it comes to that sorta of thing. But I’ve spent the last couple years of my life advocating for equal rights and you’re darn right that that includes naturists. And not just their rights, but their safety. The City has an obligation to protect all of its citizens, even if they’re not wearing clothes.
I’m disappointed that the City of Calgary has decided to fold to the demands of a small group of people who are threatening this group? Is that how progress is made? Can we not protect this group that’s been holding events for a long time, even though many of us just found out about. The group is harming no one. The group did not trick the city into renting them the pool, it wasn’t a secret. But just because you just found out about it, doesn’t mean you’re entitled to decide if it happens or not.
So I have to wonder, is this how events will be decided in Calgary now? If you do want an event to happen, can you just make a few volatile comments? Will Calgary Pride be canceled because it receives negative comments, what about the Women’s March? The City basically made up a new rule seemingly on the spot, without considering the ramifications. Of which there are and should be many.
The group has said they are looking at their legal options, as well they should.
It’s one of those moments where I wish I was brave and confident enough to do some sort of protest out of solidarity. Heaven knows I love a good protest, but I like my layers of clothing even more.
Make no mistake, the City of Calgary is leaving the naturists out to dry and I hope this isn’t the last we hear of it.