Beltline park opens to honour Lois Szabo, Calgary LGBTQ leader

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Lois Szabo, an important early leader in Calgary’s LGBTQ community, said she was pleased that the community was being recognized through the opening of the Lois Szabo Commons in the city's southwest. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC - image credit)
Lois Szabo, an important early leader in Calgary’s LGBTQ community, said she was pleased that the community was being recognized through the opening of the Lois Szabo Commons in the city's southwest. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC - image credit)

A new park is now open for Calgarians to enjoy in the Beltline, named to recognize the contributions of a prominent leader in the city's LGBTQ community.

Lois Szabo Commons, at 936 16th Ave. S.W., features a curved space for gatherings and performances, lots of seating options and a concrete Ping-Pong table.

The park is named after Lois Szabo, one of the founders of Calgary's first gay club, dubbed Club Carousel. It opened in 1970.

"I am truly honoured and somewhat overwhelmed," Szabo said on Wednesday.

"I never thought I'd see the day when a park would be dedicated to our city's LGBTQ community."

WATCH | Lois Szabo tells her story of coming out in 1960s Calgary:

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Szabo was courageous during a time when many didn't accept those in the LGBTQ community.

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

Mike Symington/CBC
Mike Symington/CBC

"That's what we're doing here. That's what Lois did in 1970. That's what Lois has done her whole darn life.… And ultimately, that is the shade that we continue to build every day."

In late May, Nenshi announced that six previously unnamed green spaces around Calgary would be named for notable residents.

The names were chosen from submissions from the public, and are intended to recognized citizens like Szabo.

Szabo said she was very proud and pleased to be chosen as a representative of Calgary's gay community.

"We have been a invisible but unique group of individuals with no specific religion or ethnic connections, no halls, meeting places, to call our own," Szabo said.

"We have overcome many obstacles and now we are very much a part of the mosaic of Calgary. Today's dedication is a wonderful milestone and a huge step forward for the LGBTQ rights."

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