Cox honoured for early LGBTQS+ advocacy work in Lethbridge

Lethbridge resident and business owner Levi Cox has been chosen as one of the recipients to receive the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee medal.

Being awarded to 7,000 Albertans, the commemorative medals honour the contributions made by Canadians towards society. Cox was awarded his for service to the community of Lethbridge, with his efforts towards LGBTQS+ and acceptance.

“I feel completely honoured, I’m blown away. It is really exciting to be acknowledged on this level,” said Cox during a presentation ceremony on Monday. “I did all of this to make Lethbridge a gayer city that I wanted to live in. That was my goal at 20, I said I’m going to make it a gayer city, and I ended up making it a more open province.”

With his work in the city, Cox is known in the business world as the owner of Catwalk Salon and Spa, located on 3 Ave S. But to the queer community, Cox is known for his advocacy towards the acceptance of the LGBTQS+.

“I put my money, my life, and my face ahead of a movement. I did that from day one. I wanted to be that role model, because I didn’t have it here growing up,” said Cox. “I wanted to represent that your child can be queer and be a success.”

Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West, presented Cox with the medal Monday afternoon outside Catwalk.

“For his outstanding service to this community, for his effort to bringing the Pride Festival to our city, for the inclusion and diversity that comes from that presence, the presence of this business, the downtown revitalization efforts, the sidewalks and advocacy, the space that he has provided to all of us, and the leadership, I give you the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal,” said Phillips.

Among his accomplishments, Cox started the Lethbridge Pride Fest, working with a board to start the first pride parade.

“We started Lethbridge Pride Fest, I believe there were six or seven of us at the time. We met at Catwalk every month and we organized our first Pride, and year by year we ticked away: crosswalk, flag raising, party in the park,” said Cox. “I did 13 years on the board, several times the president or vice president, and I walked away in the 13th year and left it in very capable hands under our current chair Lane Sterr.”

With his time working for the advocacy of LGBTQS+ rights, Cox notes that it hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows.

“This didn’t come without backlash. I put my face at the front of a lot of things,” said Cox. “People ask me all the time why I am resilient, and it is because of my family’s love, specifically my grandma’s love. She let me know I was perfect right from a very young age. She always loved me unconditionally and I know today she’d be so happy.”

With a lifetime of advocacy and a medal to show for it, Cox says he still has one more goal going forward.

“I have one goal left as my advocacy for pride, and that is to have a Pride in my hometown, Raymond, Alberta. That still has not happened,” said Cox. “There is more hope, just be proud. Be an advocate and be yourself.”

Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald