Pride Week begins in Red Deer this Friday with a number of events scheduled throughout the weekend.
This year’s events aim to address some of those challenges, including the adversity gay senior citizens experience, particularly after retirement and in retirement communities.
“Lots of LGBTQ people will come out in their middle years only to have to go back into the closet when they enter a retirement home,” said Tony Jeglum, Central Alberta Pride community board member. “There’s not that experience and openness in many retirement communities.
“It’s something we are seeing a lot of movement on but it’s also something we didn’t address a couple of years ago but we are starting to see the issue become more forefront.”
Jeglum said he and the board were thrilled to have the Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre joining in for this year’s Pride activities. The Golden Circle will be hosting a Rainbow Tea on Aug. 18th from 1:30-3:30 p.m. with tea, snacks, and a performance by The Laddies of La Cage.
“I never thought I would live to see the day drag queens would perform at the Golden Circle at three in the afternoon on a Tuesday, but thanks to the Executive Director at the Golden Circle, Monica Morrison, they’ve asked to join us and we welcomed them with open arms.”
While senior citizens still struggle to gain acceptance from their peers, Jeglum said the opposite seems to be true of the younger generation.
“One of the best things about the last 40 years and the advancements the LGBTQ community have made is that people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of coming out and with accepting their sexuality at much younger ages,” explained Jeglum. “Once upon a time a teenage may have known he or she was gay, but they didn’t act on it – they would never tell their parents or God forbid the other kids.
“But now it’s not uncommon for teenagers to identify as gay at an early age and to actually be quite vocal about it.”
Another place Jeglum said the battle for equality has not yet been won is in rural outlying communities, adding it is easy to live in Red Deer without anyone bothering you for the way you live your life.
“In small town rural Alberta, outside of the cities – there is still a rhetoric around the LGBTQ idea and people seem to forget that gay people are just normal people going about their daily lives.”
Jeglum also added the trans community has not received the same acceptance and equality over the last 40 years, however in the wake of international media coverage of various transgender individuals, great strides are being made for the transgender community’s journey to societal acceptance.
Central Alberta Pride Week will kick off Friday at City Hall Park with a mayoral proclamation from Mayor Tara Veer, followed by a dinner at Tandoor ‘n’ Flame at 6 p.m., then a Night of Comedy at the Scott Block Theatre with shows at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
On Saturday, attendees are invited to join in a ‘fruit float’, which will include a river float from Fort Normandeau to Mckenzie Trails at 11 a.m.
Later in the evening the drag kings and queens will take to the stage at the Legion for ‘Drag the Night Away’ starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door.
Other notable events include a Sunday service at Gaetz Memorial United Church at 10:30 a.m. as well as the Rainbow Tea on Tuesday and a ‘Pride @ the Beach’ day on Aug. 21st inviting members of the LGBTQ+ community to join along in Sylvan Lake beginning at 7 p.m.