A temporary rainbow crosswalk in downtown Red Deer. Advocate file photo

Central Alberta Pride Society considers permanent rainbow crosswalk

Pride Week Aug 10 to 18

A temporary rainbow crosswalk is painted in downtown Red Deer every summer, but would a permanent one be easier and as powerful?

That’s the question the Central Alberta Pride Society board is asking itself.

Society chair Shannon Humphrey says the board gets a temporary crosswalk for pride week (Aug. 10 to 18 this year) sponsored every year. The crosswalk costs around $2,500.

A permanent crosswalk would require different city permits and cost about $10,000 (through sponsorship) and would be year-round.

The permanent one won’t happen for this year’s Central Alberta Pride Week, but it’s something the board will continue to look into. The location for a permanent crosswalk hasn’t been determined.

“Every year, when we paint the temporary one, it sparks really good conversation and debate around certain topics, so that is the intention with the temporary one.

“When we paint it, the conversations start again,” explained Humphrey.

“And that’s the concern — if we do a permanent one, the conversations won’t happen as frequently as it does now. At the same time, there’s pros to having a permanent one, like you don’t have to paint it every year, and to have that permanent symbol of inclusivity and diversity in our city would be amazing.”

For now, the society is moving ahead with a temporary crosswalk, to be painted sometime this week.

This year’s pride week will focus on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, with a speaker-type event called Love the Rainbow, How Gay Rights Came to Be at the Golden Circle on Aug. 12 at 6 p.m.

The 1969 riots at New York’s Stonewall Inn are a focal point of the fight for gay rights.

“It dives into the history of the gay liberation movement and what that fight for equal rights looked at, and how we came to be where we are … the progress that’s been made and what’s left to do,” she said.

Central Alberta Pride Week is about celebrating diversity and inclusivity as a community, she said.

“The message we focus on is it could be anyone from all walks of life — everyone is welcome,” said Humphrey, adding the event is for the entire community.

“Don’t feel like you don’t belong at pride just because you’re straight, because that doesn’t mean you’re not part of our community. Maybe you’re an ally, maybe you come from a blended family, or you have a family member you want to support.”

The event is a celebration, but also a way to educate people, because there is misinformation out there.

“There are people who feel all types of sexuality need a label or things are very binary.”

Humphrey says ultimately, pride is about creating safe space for people to be exactly who they are, in a space where they don’t feel scared or judged or attacked.

“And for the people who maybe are against that, I mean, (I would say) would you want your kids to feel unsafe? It’s really about creating community where we all belong,” the central Alberta resident explained.

Other events include a Rainbow Block Party (hosted by the Trans and Non-binary Aid Society) on Aug. 14, Pride Week Bowling Night (a family friendly event), Comedy Night featuring Bull Skit Comedy on Aug. 15, among others.

Last year, it rained on the floating pride parade and the event had to be cancelled. This year, there are two dates for the Fruit Float: Aug. 11 and 18.

“We’ll try to do it on Aug. 11, and if the weather isn’t fantastic, the backup plan is Aug. 18.”

Pride After Dark, a burlesque show on Aug. 16, will feature performers from Razz Ma Berries Productions.

A burlesque, drag, cabaret and dance company from Edmonton, Razz Ma Berries Productions will tease and entice attendees with all levels of professional performers at the Black Knight Inn, say promoters.

The Drag Show and Dance, featuring Eureka O’Hara on Aug. 10, will be the kickoff to the annual pride week with a drag show and dance.

O’Hara, the hilarious and unforgettable star of RuPaul’s Drag Race seasons nine and 10, will be accompanied by local drag performers Kelli Eletrix, Sparkle Emotion, Ruby Harte, DD Fierce, Visa De’Klein and Duke Carson.

For more details on the events, visit centralalbertapride.ca.

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