LGBTQA2S+ trailblazer honoured

Photo by Stephen Ditchburn

The City of Calgary often honours famous locals by naming the various green spaces and parks located within after individuals.

Lois Szabo is one of the latest people to have a space named for her.

The Lois Szabo Commons is located at the northeast corner of 9th Street and 16th Avenue S.W., right in the middle of the Beltline.

It’s a gorgeous green space with an area for performances and gatherings, which is appropriate for why Szabo was chosen. 

Szabo is the last surviving member and one of the founders of Club Carousel, Calgary’s first gay club. It began in the 1970s and acting as a hub for the LGBTQA2S+ community.”

Club Carousel provided a community hub for social activities and political activism, bringing about a platform for organized human rights efforts,” Mayor Nenshi said at an event marking the park’s designation on July 21. 

“The best citizenship is someone who plants a tree under whose shade they will never sit,” Nenshi said.

Although honoured by the recognition, Lois insisted that it wasn’t about her, but rather about the struggle for gay rights. Lois said, “in the fresh air and sunshine, this public space is a celebration of human rights.”

“I want to stress the progress in human rights which have crept forward in the past 50 years. But remember, nothing is carved in stone and we gays and our allies must never become complacent. Homophobia still exists everywhere. Even with the advances we have made, we continue to be very vulnerable to the various policies of political parties and religious leaders.”

Szabo, now in her 80s, is a member of the Rainbow Elders, a group of LGBTQA2S+ older adults who continue to work towards education, acceptance and understanding in Calgary.