You could say that Red Deer and Central Alberta in general have come a long ways in terms of support for the LGBTQ community.
This week marks the fourth annual Central Alberta Pride Week, and things kicked off with numerous events planned, including a film night, family BBQ, bowling, drag show, comedy show and two worship services including one at Gaetz Memorial Church this past Sunday.
Central Alberta Pride has been working for the last year to solidify the plans, and director of events Joel Graham said this year will be the biggest and best Central Alberta has seen yet.
“What I’m most excited about isn’t a specific event – it’s seeing the collaboration of people come together and show their support,” he said last week. “It’s not just the LGBTQ community, it’s also a lot about our supporters and allies. I am beyond excited to experience the love from the community.”
Recently, the City of Red Deer also painted two rainbows at the intersection of Ross Street and Little Gaetz Avenue to show support for the LGBTQ community ahead of this year’s Pride events. It is unfortunate to see that these crosswalks have been vandalized in recent days, but community spirit still shines through.
“Our rainbows have been painted on Ross Street at Little Gaetz and those are probably our City’s biggest rainbows this year. It’s been a little bit of a challenge, but it’s a great achievement to have this in our City. After coming downtown and seeing the rainbows, it’s a spectacular, welcoming feeling and means big things for Central Alberta’s LGBTQ community,” Graham said.
Serge Gingras, co-chair of the Central Alberta Pride Society, has said that he has seen a huge development in relationships within and outside of the local LGBTQ community.
“Pride Week is really for everyone. It’s not all rainbows and parties, but also about celebrating our journey to inclusiveness and embracing people for who they are,” Gingras said.
“The rainbows downtown are not only a big thing for the LGBTQ community in Red Deer, but for Red Deer as a whole. It’s significant in showing how far we’ve come as a community over several decades, but particularly in the last five years. We’ve come a long way – a really long way.
“The work is never done and Pride Week is just one avenue to celebrate who we are. That celebration is not only in our own LGBTQ community, but in the community as a whole. To me, it’s also a recognition of our history.”
A full list of locations, dates and times for the various Pride Week activities can also be found online at the Central Alberta Pride web site.
“Central Alberta Pride Week celebrates Red Deer’s welcoming and inclusiveness and promotes a community free from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation,” added Gingras.
The Official Kick off was the Mayoral Proclamation on Aug. 14th at City Hall where about 400 people gathered.
Meanwhile, as mentioned there have been a number of events already this week, with several more planned over the next few days including the RAINBOWling family bowling night at Heritage Lanes on Aug. 18th, and a Diversity Presentation by Chevi Rabbit, ‘From Hate to Hope – Creating Safe and Inclusive Communities’ at Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery on Aug. 19th. There is also a Bullskit Comedy Show at the Scott Block Theatre at 8 p.m. on Aug. 19th as well.
This Saturday, there will be a Drag Queens and Kings show at the Royal Canadian Legion and on Aug. 21st, a worship service at St. Andrew’s United Church in Lacombe, followed by a barbecue in the park.
“All Red Deerians are invited to attend these events and are welcome to join the celebration, regardless of their identity or affiliation with the LGBTQ community,” said Gingras.
For more information on Central Alberta Pride Week events, visit www.centralalbertapride.ca or www.facebook.com/RedDeerPrideDays.