'People were afraid': Audio walking tour delves into Regina's queer history
'Queering the Queen City' has seven sites, including Victoria Park, a secret gay bar and SGI.
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.
'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."