Central Alberta Pride Week started Sunday afternoon with a daylong celebration in Bower Ponds.
Serge Gingras, Central Alberta Pride Society chair, said last year was a big event and they tried to make it bigger this year. Organizers were expecting about 400 people.
“We turned Bower Ponds into a big rainbow party,” said Gingras, aged 59. “A lot of people see it is a celebration of who we are, but for me it’s also a recognition of where we come from as a community and as a society.
“The treatment of gay men in the 1970s, I saw it I experienced it. So as we get older it becomes more meaningful. While as a society we can acknowledge we’ve come a long way, there are still issues of discrimination.”
Gingras compared his experience as a gay man in the 1970s to the current experience of transgender people.
John Lafontaine recalled his experience in Calgary not long ago as a gay person.
“Once upon a time you had to be very cautious about what you said or what you did,” said Lafontaine. “When I lived in Calgary, people would wait until you came out of the gay bars and beat you up. You still have to be careful, but people are a little more open minded.”
Matt McKellar and Clarrisa Carmichael attended last year’s pride event, walking down Ross Street with small flags on their hips. On Sunday, they wore a rainbow flag and a transgender flag, respectively, as capes.
“We aren’t afraid,” said McKellar. “Our community is supportive, there are a few bad eggs, but that doesn’t speak for what we see and we hear.
“I grew up afraid, I grew up in Innisfail. To let it be known was to invite harm on myself.”
Pride Week continues with events all week long. Gingras pointed to Tuesday’s Golden Circle’s community conversation on aging LGBTQ+ as an interesting topic.
“There’s the wave of baby boomers who are now getting older and will need health and wellness support and health care,” said Gingras. “We don’t want our population to be discriminated against, again.”
That happens on Tuesday started at 1:30 p.m. at the Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre, 4620 47A Ave.