The Central Alberta Pride Society unveiled two rainbow crosswalks in downtown Red Deer Thursday morning.

This is the third year that the crosswalks have been painted, with support from Fargeys Decorating Centre.

They are located at the intersection of Gaetz Avenue and Ross Street.

“It’s a symbol of not only the LGBTQ community but also an invitation to the community at large to join us and celebrate who we are,” said Serge Gingras, chair of the Central Alberta Pride Society.

Gingras has been a Red Deer resident for 33 years. In the last decade, he said society has changed to become more accepting, not just of the LGBTQ community but of people with a range of identities.

“I’ve seen a great effort from different levels of government and different sectors of our community — business, education, whatnot … really embracing inclusion and diversity,” he said.

2018 08 09 PrideCrosswalk1Pedestrians walking across the rainbow crosswalk on Aug. 9 in downtown Red Deer.

The rainbow crosswalk has been an iconic symbol of the LGBTQ community and one day, the society hopes to make one permanent.

“It’s a reminder of Pride Week. But if we had the permanent crosswalk, I think it would remind people all year, that this is part of the community and we’re here 365 days a year,” Gingras said.

The idea behind the crosswalk in Red Deer came from one of the society’s board members in 2016. Gingras said the City of Red Deer did the painting that year.

Since then, the community has taken over.

“For the last two years, the crosswalk has been fully funded by fundraising or the society and donation by Fargeys,” he said.

There have been cases of vandalism in the past. Gingras said such occurrences happen everywhere.

“In every community, there are people who don’t agree with who the LGBTQ community is and they don’t agree with the fact that there are people who are different than they are,” he said.

“One of my hopes is, through the crosswalk and the celebration of Pride Week, people start asking questions and start investigating a little bit more about who we are … There’s more to one person than the one thing you know about them. It’s only by establishing relationships, asking questions … to find things in common and to start embracing that diversity to become eventually more inclusive.”

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