Red Deer city councillors joined in the painting at Ross Street and Gaetz Avenue where the intersection got a rainbow makeover Monday morning for Central Alberta Pride Week, in 2016. Red Deer North MLA Kim Schreiner, Deputy Mayor Dianne Wyntjes, Central Alberta Pride Society events co-ordinator Joel Graham, Coun. Paul Harris and Coun. Frank Wong attended the installation. (Advocate file photo)

Central Alberta Pride packed with fun, celebrations and reminders of struggles

Though June is LGBTQ+ pride month, in Central Alberta Pride Week is in August and full of fun, inclusive activities.

Central Alberta Pride Society board chair Serge Gingras spoke with excitement about the celebration, but was quick to point to the struggle that precipitated pride.

“It’s not that long ago that homosexuality was decriminalized,” said Gingras, adding decriminalization happened in 1969.

“Discrimination happens every day. Sometimes it’s direct, sometimes it’s subdued, but it’s there and that’s part of the struggle. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.”

A source of controversy last year, Little Gaetz Avenue in downtown Red Deer had one of its crosswalks painted in rainbow colours to celebrate pride. Twice, a driver left skid marks over the rainbow paint.

Gingras said, there will be a return of the rainbow crosswalk this year. They don’t know where the crosswalk will be yet, but the rainbow colours will be out again.

Largely this year’s event, from Aug. 13 to 20, will be similar to last year’s pride week. Gingras said the biggest change was the relocation of Pride in the Park from City Hall Park to Bower Ponds.

“We think we’re going to get more people than last year,” said Gingras. “Last year was quite the success and people have already started asking about it. There’s a bit of a buzz starting in the community again.”

Pride in the Park, scheduled for Aug. 13 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. features a Mayor’s proclamation followed by an afternoon of live entertainment, food trucks, games and activities. Performers include Michelle Laine, Randi Boulton, the KlamDaggers and 89. Admission is free.

Other highlights include a round table discussion at the Golden Circle Resource Centre on LGBTQ+ and the Aging population on Aug. 15, no time has been set yet. A Rainbow Block Party at the West Park Community Centre, 5621 39th St., on Aug. 16 from 3 to 8 p.m. features games and a barbecue.

Aug. 17 is particularly busy with a Human Rights Forum on understanding gender identity and expression in employment services from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, 4525 47A Ave. It costs $52.50 plus GST per person and advanced registration is required. A 12 p.m. downtown barbecue (location to be decided), sponsored by Kim Schriner, is by donation cash and non-perishable food items, for the Food Bank. Then from 6 to 7:30 p.m. there is a family friendly RainBOWLING event at Heritage Lanes, 6200 67A St.

The Drag Show and Dance on Aug. 19 takes place at the Sheraton Red Deer Hotel, doors and 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. The week winds down with a “recovery” fruit float down the Red Deer River starting at 11:30 a.m. launching from the Bower Ponds Kiwanis Picnic Shelter.

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