We Are Survivors – Backroom Chatter

We Are Survivors –
Backroom Chatter Podcast

In this Premiere episode, non-other than Mr. Ron Byers, Rhoda B, long-time host of Drag Races and founding member of well, everything Gay in Edmonton, graciously donates time and powerful memories to make your host Michael McDonell, just sit in awe and wonder..

Explore Edmonton presents “SAY MORE”

Immerse yourself in the unique journeys of Edmonton’s 2SLGBTQIA+ community leaders, storytellers, and business owners. Their voices inspire change and foster inclusivity. Don’t miss this inspiring documentary short created in partnership with Cory Johnn Films.

For me this was such an amazing opportunity to participate in the production as the “Interviewer” off-camera. Working with an awesome cinematographer… Cory Johhn… was brilliant and he edited hours of interviews we did down to a truly wonderful reflection of our community.

Thanks Explore Edmonton!!

Read the story behind the video and then watch it on their website or on any of Explore Edmonton’s social media channels and on Youtube below.


Guide to the Summer of Pride

2023 will see the largest number of Pride events the Edmonton has ever seen for the Summer of Pride! Over 36 organizations have put together more than 75 events in three dozen different venues around the city. For a full listing of events and all the details, plus suggestions for where you can pick up your Pride Supplies, visit https://PrideEdmonton.ca.

Read more on Explore Edmonton….


Partying with Ike & Tina in 1976

Seeing Tina Turner that night at the Edmonton Gardens in 1976 still remains one of the biggest highlights of my lifetime.

I was a young 21 year old when I had a chance to “run away with the circus”. I was asked to join a traveling drag show called the Fantasy Follies as their sound and lighting technician. What a chance to go way past my shyness and fears and live in hotel rooms travelling across Canada with a group of amazing Drag performers.

Read more on Rainbow Story Hub….


Capturing And Sharing Edmonton’s Queer History

This Powerpoint style presentation brings the story of the work that has been done to bring the history of the 2SLGBTQ+ community to life over the last 25+ years.

The presentation is about 20-25 minutes and can be done in person or virtually with an optional 10 – 15 minute question period following.

I cover several pieces of written work done by local Queer Historian/Actor/Writer/Producer Darrin Hagen. Also work done by the Edmonton Heritage Council’s Edmonton City As Museum Project (ECAMP), the Edmonton Queer History Project and Rainbow Story Hub.

Also included is a brief synopsis of upcoming projects from these groups as well as an upcoming anthology series based on the Sex Trials Of 1942 in Edmonton, the Telus funded Flashback Documentary film, a new community initiative with the City Of Edmonton Archives, Archive Society of Alberta and the Edmonton Heritage Council as well as Rainbow Story Hub and the Edmonton Queer History Project.

Here are some slides from the presentation:

Guide to Pride Month in Edmonton

With many festivals taking a break for the last 2 years, Edmonton is once again ready to host some amazing events for the summer, and it all begins with Pride! Pride is a celebration of people coming together in unity, love, and friendship to show how far 2SLGBTQ+ rights have come and to recognize the impact that this important segment of our community has had on society locally, nationally and internationally.

The 2022 page has now been removed but can be viewed on the Archive.org’s Wayback Machine….


From Hiding to Acceptance: Uncovering Edmonton’s Queer History

“  I remember a time when there was no place in this town where I could go and come out as a gay man and have a beer with another gay man.  »— A quote from  Ron Byers, queer historian and founder of the Rainbow Story Hub

Check out the full article on CBC Radio-Canada (French)
(Use the Translate feature in Chrome or Edge for English)


Edmonton’s Pride Celebration History

The First 21 years 1980 – 2001

Edmonton’s first recognized Pride event was a Picnic In The Park thought to be held at Camp Harris, home of the 49th Battalion, The Loyal Edmonton Regiment Association. It was attended by about 75 people in 1980 to bring awareness to our community and celebrate the decriminalization of homosexuality with a campfire, picnic and softball game.

1982 saw the first Pride weekend – Pride Through Unity which included a drag show and buffet at Flashback sponsored by the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Wild Rose, a Unity Dance at the Phoenix Hall put on by the Gay Alliance Towards Equality (GATE) and a picnic and BBQ again held at Camp Harris. Organized in part as a reaction to the Pisces Spa raid a year earlier it looked to bring the community together and bring awareness to the challenges they still faced.

Read more here…


Evolution of the Edmonton Queer History project hits the web and city streets

From the audience, Ron Byers said the latest iteration of the project is particularly valuable to future generations who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the knowledge and experience of those who lived Edmonton’s queer history.

“Because it’s all up here,” he said, pointing to his head. “It opens up the history for our younger community … so the kids learn our history because it’s not taught anywhere else.”

A queer historian himself, Byers runs the Rainbow Story Hub, which collects accounts from members of the community — an effort that he sees as complementary to the queer history project’s encyclopedic, research-driven approach.

Edmonton Journal – March 8, 2022


When Drag Queens Became Charitable

To call any of those who did drag as charitable… while in drag… would be stretching the truth. Known for their caustic wit, quick retorts and haughty gestures, raising money for anything charitable was almost non-existent.

Then in 1984 reports that had been surfacing out of San Francisco and New York for the previous few years of a new “gay-related immune deficiency” (GRID), finally named by the CDC in the U.S. as AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), attracted the attention of the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Wild Rose in Edmonton.


Out of the Closets & Into the Streets


Most major cities have a neighbourhood that has clearly defined itself as the “gay” neighbourhood, an area where LGBTQ2S+ folks can build a community together while living, working, shopping, and eating at welcoming businesses. Toronto’s Church Street and Vancouver’s Davie Street are just two that come to mind. Edmonton breaks tradition by having not one but two gaybourhoods that have come together to form a community for LGBTQ2S+ Edmontonians.

Read the full story in The Yards Magazine – Click the link below

Queer historian Ron Byers on the fortieth anniversary of the Pisces Spa bathhouse raid with J’Lyn Nye – 630 CHED

I chat with radio personality J’Lyn Nye from 630 CHED about the impacts and damage done to the gay community on the 40th anniversary of the Pisces Bathhouse raid by the Edmonton Police Service May 30, 1981. Catch the podcast at the link below.


Shattered lives’: A look at Edmonton police raid of Pisces Spa bathhouse four decades later

Four decades have passed since dozens of gay men were arrested during a raid at Edmonton’s Pisces Health Spa, charged and outed to the broader community, changing their lives completely.

Fifty-six men and six employees were arrested under bawdy house laws when 40 Edmonton police, seven RCMP officers and two attorneys raided the bathhouse on May 30, 1981.



40th anniversary of Pisces Health Spa raids – Edmonton Police Service

2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the Pisces Health Spa bathhouse raids by the Edmonton Police Service (EPS).

To acknowledge the trauma and impact of the raids, and to show their support to the Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Transgender, and Queer (2SLGBTQ+) community, the EPS is releasing a documentary-style video with commentary from local community members sharing their experiences and perspectives.