Communities in the Foothills are gearing up for Pride month 2022; a celebration of diversity and LGBTQ+ communities, acknowledging their history, the hardships, and the progress that has been made.
Since 2016, the entire month of June has been declared Pride month, with a program of events throughout the month.
Michelle Parker of High River is a proud mother of queer and transgender children and has been flying a pride flag out front of their house for years.
The idea was inspired by a trip to Calgary to take in a pride festival, a first for her kids.
"I'd been to several when I was younger and living in different places, but they had never gone. By then several of them were out as trans or questioning in the LGBT arena and we decided we were going to get a pride flag and we did.
"We got a lovely Canadian pride flag. We put it up and we had it outside of our door for like three or four years."
Recently, however, their house and their flags have been seen as a target.
"This last year it's been taken down three different times and just disappeared. Once in February, then again in April, and then finally in May, we had our flag ripped down and it was gone and we've just replaced it with a new one and we got tired of that. So we decided that we are going to paint the front of our house."
She says it was an act not out of hate or spite but out of love.
"We laugh ... like I don't want things ripped, I don't want things vandalized, I don't want to encourage that. But at the same time, it's not about them. I'm not flying it to make people feel bad. I'm flying it just for the people who really need to see that in their lives."
It's a feeling Parker knows is contagious and she is already seeing the love spread.
"There's now more than one flag on my street. I can go down another street and I'll see another one then it makes me happy 'cause, well, rainbows are awesome!
“But it's just knowing that there are other people who are out there who are also in the same boat, and they're also providing the support and they're providing the love and care to our community.”
Parker and her family are hard at work painting the foundation of their home in rainbow colours as well as a small rainbow garden, an act they hope makes people smile and perhaps starts a conversation in their own homes or friend groups.
"In the language we use a lot nowadays, we use a lot of gendered language and we use a lot of stereotypes and assumptions and just giving our kids a broader understanding of what's there. It's great for everybody, no matter what gender or sexuality they have at the end of the day."
The Town of Okotoks will be kicking off Pride month with a day-long festival on June 4. Find more information on their Facebook page.