This post is sponsored by TELUS

One of my biggest personal passions is working within Calgary and Alberta’s LGTBQ community.  It wasn’t something I ever thought I’d do. I remember years ago, a great local radio station asked if I’d come on regularly to talk about queer issues and I immediately shot them down, because I didn’t want to be “known as the gay guy.” I wanted to be known as a writer, among other things. I really thought I couldn’t do or be both.

While, even though that was only just a few years ago, I’ve obviously had a change of heart. Maybe I’m more confident, maybe I’m more proud, but I’ve certainly seen the importance of every member of our community using their voice to create change, no matter if they have a big audience or not. For me, it’s no longer an option, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m actually a part of the Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ Legacy Project, which is aiming to build a memorial of some sort that honours the work of LGTBQ people in Calgary throughout many decades from secret clubs, to wearing masks to protect their safety in Pride Parades, and to the advocates who are still working every day to make ensure that LGTBQ+ Calgarians are safe and protected, but also celebrated.

One of the names that come up a lot is Everett Klippert. He was the Calgary Transit driver who was actually the last Canadian to be charged and jailed for being gay.  It was Klippert’s case that eventually led to Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau creating a new law that would decriminalize homosexuality in 1969. It was a landmark case that would change the lives of millions of Canadians, including myself.  

Klippert’s story is now being told in a powerful short film entitled Gross Indecency: The Everett Klippert Story, which was produced under TELUS’ incredible StoryHive program, which funds productions, supports filmmakers with mentorship and support from the National Screen Institute and has brought hundreds of films to life online and around the world.  

Here in Calgary, Everett’s story has become sort of folklore, so I was impressed with how much important information this short film fits into its 17 minute run time.  I learned so much about this gentle giant, and notably how his sister fought for years for his freedom, something that no doubt caused her to be judged and criticized herself.

Over the years, StoryHive has helped produce many films that tell the queer stories of my fellow Albertans. For me, this is incredibly helpful and poignant. Because while I’m comfortable now, it’s so important to hear these different stories and voices. I really recommend you check out the Love Intersections series, which tackles topics such as queer disability and queer sports (dodgeball!!!), which is something I’ve always struggled with. A few years ago, StoryHive also produced an amazing documentary about Kelly Hofer that tells his story of being a gay person growing up in a hutterite colony. 

The fact that these stories are now being funded and told is one of the reasons I signed up with work with TELUS throughout the year.  I’m not sure a word exists to emphasize the importance that these stories will have on the queer community, especially in rural areas where one in fact be the only queer person, whether they are old or young.   I’m thankful that TELUS is helping tell these stories, because if one person hears them who needs to, it can make all the difference in the world.

As Calgary gets ready to celebrate it’s Pride Festival, which runs from August 24th to September 3rd, TELUS will be helping celebrate and #ShareLove. One of those ways is their Pride-themed iRing, which can be purchased at TELUS retail stores, TELUS will donate $5 to participating charities, Canada-wide up to a maximum of $20,000. Until September 10, all proceeds from the iRing sales will go directly to the following organizations (depending on your location): YouthCo (BC), Camp fYrefly (AB/SK/MB), The 519 (ON), Interligne (QC) & the Youth Project (Atlantic Canada).

One of the things I most appreciate about TELUS commitment to the queer community is how you can participate in whichever way you’d like, whether it be buy watching powerful stories, or adding a little fabulousness to you phone, I have no doubt that TELUS and it’s employees are allies along every step of the way.

Mike Morrison