Just a few days after Pride murals were vandalized in downtown Red Deer, members and allies of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community gathered at Rotary Park to celebrate Pride Month.
The Red Deer Queer Community Association hosted its second annual Pride in the Park on Saturday – the two-day event continued Sunday afternoon.
“The fact that we’re out here and able to represent ourselves, as well as our community as a whole, just shows the entire city that we are unapologetically ourselves, especially in the face of a lot of backlash we’ve been receiving,” said Alex Pugatschew, vice-chairperson of the association.
The event came shortly after 14 sidewalk murals, located in front of the Junktiques Home Decor and Pride Shop, were damaged. These murals were painted last summer by several organizations, including the RDQCA.
“We just learned the mural we had done on 51st Street was defaced very aggressively. Just about everybody who had a mural done there had their mural horribly defaced. It looked like somebody took a power tool to it,” said Pugatschew.
“It was quite a bit of a shock. It’s more important (to acknowledge Pride Month) now than ever. It’s kind of a big middle finger to those people. We’re here no matter what you do. We’re here no matter how big of a stink you raise.”
The association’s first Pride in the Park was just one day long. The event was two days this year to make the most out of the summertime.
“We wanted to give people a chance to get outside, enjoy everything that Red Deer has to offer and enjoy what the queer community has to offer,” Pugatschew said.
Pride in the Park featured vendors and information booths, as well as games and activities for all ages.
RDQCA’s fourth annual car parade is scheduled for June 17, with a start and stop location of the P4 parking lot in downtown Red Deer (across from City Hall Park).
Other events throughout Pride Month include Innisfail Pride at the town’s Royal Canadian Legion branch on June 23-24, High Tea with the Queens at Cronquist House on June 24 and the second Queer Prom at the Snell Auditorium in the Red Deer Public Library’s downtown branch on June 30.
For more information on the association’s Pride Month plans, visit www.rdqca.org/pride-2023.