A year in review for Alberta’s LGBTQ+ community
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
A lot of discussion about the LGBTQ+ community in Alberta took place in 2018. There were many discussions surrounding gay-straight alliances amongst other issues that sparked various conversations in the province. Along with steps forward, there also came challenges for the community in the province.
In 2018, talks about Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) took place across the province. Legislation was put forward to protect the privacy of students that join a GSA. Bill 24 amended the School Act to not only protect the privacy of these students, but to make “publicly funded schools to create welcoming, caring and respectful policies and make them publicly available.”
Schools across the province were given until June 30, 2018 to put these “safe and caring” policies into effect.
In May 2018 a majority of United Conservative Party members at the party’s inaugural convention voted in support of a parent’s right to know that their child is part of a GSA.
The NDP passed Bill 24, which protects teenagers part of GSAs and similar clubs. This helps students who are part of these clubs to not be exposed to their parents if they are not ready to come out — they may be subject to uncomfort and abuse at home.
Taber votes against Pride flag
In early 2018, the province saw some controversy when the Town of Taber voted against flying the Pride flag on a public flagpole.
A group called The Taber Equality Alliance flew the flag in 2017, but it was damaged by vandals multiple times.
The Town of Taber released a statement stating that a motion was passed, which expressed that the flagpole standing in Confederation Park will no longer be a community flagpole. The flagpole is strictly for hanging the flags of Alberta, Canada or the Town of Taber.
Pride event takes city by storm
Pride Week involves various events that either promote education and advocacy or offer an opportunity to celebrate individuality.
There are workshops, seminars and social events to help promote diversity and to show support for the LGBTQ+ community. There were also various flag raising ceremonies held across the province.
Last year, the event also showcased several celebrations, such as drag shows multiple block parties and celebrations held around the city — including the Dyke and Trans MARCH, PURE PRIDE, All-Star Pride Weekend and many more.
In Calgary, many people attend the Pride Parade, with numbers seemingly increasing every year. In 2018, it was reported that tens of thousands of people attended the parade. The Pride Parade is the second largest parade in the city following the Calgary Stampede parade. The 2019 parade and Pride in the Park will be taking place on Sept. 1.
Prior to Pride Week last year, Calgary Pride invited Calgary Police officers to attend this year’s event — they could identify themselves as police officers, but were not permitted to wear their formal uniform. Calgary Police Services (CPS) was not able to have their own entry in the parade. A statement was released saying that CPS, the mayor’s office and Calgary Pride are looking to improve relations moving forward.
There were thousands of people who participated in the parade. In September 2018, Calgary Pride celebrated their 28-year anniversary of having the parade in the city.
The Pride Parade ended with a celebration at Prince’s Island Park. It was a big celebration that coincided with various other events that took place across the city during Pride Week.
In 2019, Calgary Pride Week will be taking place. Aug. 23 to Sept. 2.
Our first permanent Pride crosswalk
Calgary has had Pride crosswalks in the past, but was one of Canada’s last cities to install a permanent crosswalk.
Mount Royal University (MRU) became home to the city’s first permanent Pride crosswalk.
MRU provost, Lesley Brown recently told The Reflector how proud she was of the crosswalk. “There was a couple of young men who were standing on that sidewalk just having a kiss. And it was like, ‘Wow.’ It was a great, a really proud moment for me to think, ‘I get to work here and I get to be the provost here, so that was awesome.”
Brown also talked about the importance of the crosswalk. “I think it was pivotal for the university because it was a symbol of permanence. It is the only permanent pride sidewalk in the city. Then, the students came back and they were able to be welcomed by that.”
In June 2018, MRU also raised the Pride flag for the first time as an institution at a Pride Month celebration over the summer.
The crosswalk was done by Zoom Painting, who donated the cost of the installation and will upkeep annually for up to five years. The contribution is valued at $17,500.
Calgary MLA’s wedding officiated by the premier
Calgary-Cross MLA Ricardo Miranda is Alberta’s first cabinet minister to be married in a same-sex wedding. The MLA, who is also the minister for culture and tourism got married to his partner, Christopher Brown.
Miranda told CBC that “We could have … easily done this without anybody finding out. But, I’ve always been open and forthcoming and honest about my life, and this didn’t seem like the time to actually hide.”
The wedding took place at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum and was officiated by Alberta Premier, Rachel Notley. She later tweeted a photo of her officiating the wedding and said, “What a great day to celebrate the love!” Notley also thanked the couple for allowing her to be a part of the celebration.
There is always room for improvement, but some of these events highlight some of the amazing things that are bringing people together. These may be small advances but it’s important to recognize the strides that are being done to bring communities closer together.