Saskatchewan

'People were afraid': Audio walking tour delves into Regina's queer history

"Queering the Queen City" takes the listener downtown and starts at Victoria Park, the site of Regina's first-ever Pride parade in 1990.

'Queering the Queen City' has seven sites, including Victoria Park, a secret gay bar and SGI.

Lucy Marick (left) and Tatum Schultz (right) show their support for the LGBT community in Regina at Queen City Pride in 2017. (Alec Salloum/CBC Saskatchewan)

Imagine attending a Pride Parade where people were so afraid to be out and queer that they wear masks to participate.

Evie Ruddy's new audio walking tour, Queering the Queen City, brings you straight to the heart of Regina's sometimes difficult, sometimes triumphant queer history — including the city's first Pride parade in 1990.

The parade was held illegally, since the then-police chief refused to sign off on it. The community marched anyway.

They wore masks, since LGBTQ+ rights weren't yet protected in Saskatchewan and many were afraid of violence or loss of employment.

Hit 'start' and go

Ruddy's tour launched over the weekend in time for Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2018, which is being hosted by the University of Regina. The event, which brings together scholarly associations from across many disciplines, is in its 87th year.

Queering the Queen City takes the listener downtown. It starts at Victoria Park, the site of the 1990 parade. The geo-located tour is available on the izi.TRAVEL app.

There was so much stigma around it that the gay bar had to be in a house.- Evie  Ruddy

"You go to Victoria park with a set of headphones, put them on, open the app, search for Queering the Queen City, you'll see it there, and hit start. Once you hit start, you don't have to touch your phone again," said Ruddy.

"As you approach each stop and you get into the vicinity of it, the audio will kick in, and you'll hear the next story."
Evie Ruddy's latest audio walking tour takes the listener through downtown Regina and uncovers the stories of the city's queer community.

'People were afraid'

One of the seven sites along the tour is an ordinary-looking house with strong roots in the queer community.

It used to house the city's first gay bar.

"People were afraid," said Ruddy. "Being gay in the 1970s, there was so much stigma around it that the gay bar had to be in a house, and that's really changed now."

Now Regina gay bar Q proudly displays a rainbow sign outside, for increased visibility as a gathering space for LGBTQ+ identified people.

Still, Regina could be more progressive, according to Ruddy.

"The trans community still hasn't gotten that broader acceptance yet. Even at the gay bar sometimes it's not a safe space for the transgender community," Ruddy said.

Another stop on the tour is SGI, of all places. It, too, is an important location for the trans community.

"This is the story of a transgender woman fighting to have the gender markers on her ID changed without having to provide proof of surgery," said Ruddy.

"It goes through her struggle and it's a really powerful story."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bridget Yard is a journalist and content creator based in the Greater Toronto Area. Originally from Schumacher, a small mining community in northern Ontario, she spent a decade pursuing a career in journalism close to home, then in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan with CBC.

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