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St. Albert's 2SLGBTQI+ group Outloud paints final rainbow crosswalk

New groups rising to replace Outloud

Editors note: A previous version of this story had incorrect days for the future informal Pride gatherings in Lions Park. 

Mother Nature could not hold back her tears Sunday as supporters of Outloud St. Albert gathered for the group’s last official event.

About 50 people gathered in front of St. Albert Place with rainbow flags, sidewalk chalk, and rollers May 26 for the official last act of Outloud St. Albert — the painting of the rainbow crosswalk. The popular 2SLGBTQ+ group ceased operations on May 3 because of funding shortages.

Torrential rains fell just as outgoing Outloud board president Kevin Malinowski was finishing his speech to the crowd. Organizers cancelled the painting soon after as the streets became too wet. Outloud co-founder Terry Soetaert said it was the first time that the painting had ever been rained out.

City of St. Albert volunteers managed to finish the crosswalk painting the next day, city spokesperson Cory Sinclair said in an email.


The mood at St. Albert Place was nonetheless upbeat, with supporters chatting together beneath umbrellas and at least one child tossing a beach-ball amidst the downpour.

In an interview, Malinowski said he was “fighting back the tears” at this final Outloud event.

“It’s a sad day, but a great day, too. We’re ending it the right way. We’re showing our support for Pride.”

In his speech to the crowd, Malinowski thanked Outloud founders and supporters Natalie, Terry, Mia, Elizabeth and Emma Soetaert for their years of support, saying they had done more for St. Albert than he could ever hope to do himself.

“We must unfortunately acknowledge that our community is once again under attack, and our trans and queer people — our friends — are in danger today,” he said.

“We’re going to build this community to the point where something like this [crosswalk] is normal for everyone.”

Speaking to the crowd, St. Albert city councillor Wes Brodhead said the crosswalk is a statement about how everyone is welcomed and honoured in the city and need to be recognized for who they are.

“For 10 years Outloud led this project,” he said.

“It will not stop, and it will continue.”

In an interview, Brodhead reaffirmed St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron has committed to keeping the rainbow crosswalk in front of St. Albert Place, adding he is confident other groups will step up to take on Outloud’s work.

…and hope

Several of those successors were already on the move as of Sunday.

Former Outloud board member Dejan Hursin said at the event he is restarting PFLAG St. Albert, which had run through Outloud for many years. A support group for parents of 2SLGBTQI+ youths, PFLAG St. Albert will meet at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month at the old Outloud location (215 Carnegie Dr.) starting this June 11. Email [email protected] for details.

St. Albert Public Schools had been working with Outloud on this year’s Pride Prom prior to the group’s closure and hosted the event as planned last May 24, said St. Albert Public director of leadership/human resources Les Kirchner. About 70 St. Albert-area students attended. St. Albert Public plans to continue to host this event in the years ahead.

In an email, Outloud board member Doug Neuman said his kids were disappointed when Outloud closed and wanted to have a chance to meet their friends from the group. The Neumans decided to host a series of picnics in Lions Park, the first of which happened on May 21, with an open invitation for anyone to attend.

“We have no formal activities planned, just a campfire, some snacks, and some bocce. Anyone who is interested is welcome to join us!”

Picnics will run from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 4 and 18, July 2 and 16, and August 6 and 20, Neuman said (the first and third Tuesday of those months, which is when the Outloud youth group used to meet). He encouraged guests to look for the rainbow flag onsite.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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