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Bus tour follows gay community’s journey - Metro US

Bus tour follows gay community’s journey

Wheels on a bus will soon go ’round and ’round on a less than straight route, with Pride organizers steering queer in the driver’s seat.

Seriously. The Edmonton Queer History Bus Tour will take riders on a fabulous roll through the city’s queer evolution tomorrow night, and notable wayposts that mark its map.

Led by iconic local guy in disguise Darrin Hagen — a living legend in the Canadian drag scene — the tour will hit infamous locations and recently uncovered gay landmarks.

“It’s interesting to see where the community started,” he said. “Some people don’t know which places were around back in the day.”

In addition to hitting the locations of current and past same-sex bars that began to pop up after 1969, Hagen will lead tourists to historic hotels and lounges rumoured to be homosexual hangouts in the ’40s and ’50s, before the dawn of Alberta’s gay movement.

“We’re in a different time now,” he said. “Human rights have been sort of granted to us in Alberta and the scene has changed completely. By necessity people had to watch the way they acted.”

A pivotal point in Edmonton’s queer history is the raid of the Pieces Health Spa in 1981, after which, people were forced to divulge information on their sexual history to police, Hagen said.

Included in the 31 stops is Michal Phair’s house, the first openly homosexual Edmonton councillor, a number of “drag mansions,” and Bellamy Hill, where gay men were known to stroll in the ’70s.

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