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.
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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
“They just did this raid in such a totally different manner from what they had done in previous raids in massage parlours, other common bawdy houses in the city, which were more straight-oriented,” Byers said.