Support for the LGBTQ+ community is growing in Central Alberta.
That’s the message from Serge Gingras, chair of the Central Alberta Pride Society.
Central Alberta Pride Week 2018 officially kicked off Sunday morning with events planned all week.
Twenty-eight vendors were at Bower Ponds compared to seven last year.
Gingras said that’s an example of the growing support, which also includes sponsors for the event.
“My observation is that there are fewer and fewer people who criticize us or don’t agree with who we are,” he said.
In his third year with the society, Gingras said, he sees a growing number of people who stand united with the LGBTQ+ community in Central Alberta whenever there’s backlash.
“When there are incidents whether it’s (rainbow) crosswalk vandalism, for example, I’ve seen and heard more and more people stand up and say ‘this is not right,’ ” the society chair said.
But there is more work to be done, he added.
“Pride week is the celebration of the LGBTQ community, and, at the same time, remembering our history because LGBTQ history is not very pleasant,” he said. “We have a history of bullying, discrimination, and sometimes violent acts.”
For Red Deer’s Jeana Freeksen, 23, Central Alberta Pride Week is important because it allows the LGBTQ+ community to come together. She said the event gives people an opportunity to see they’re not alone.
Red Deer resident Sage Huard, said not everyone can travel to bigger centres such as Calgary to take part in pride events.
“I use pronouns such as they or them. I feel I’m different than other people and having to celebrate that is really awesome,” said Huard.
Local musicians and performers took to stage at Bower Ponds Sunday morning as part of the opening day celebrations. More than 700 Central Albertans attended the all-day event.
Red Deer’s Fruit Float — a floating Pride Parade, which was scheduled early Sunday has been postponed to Aug. 19 due to weather conditions. The float will launch at Fort Normandeau at 11 a.m. and float to Bower Ponds.
Other events planned all week include: Pride Week Community Conversation Monday, The Coming Out in Faith Monologues Tuesday, Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival Friday and Drag Show & Dance Saturday.