Street Cred: The Rise of Rainbow Sidewalks

Rainbow sidewalks: the rise of a peaceful resistance and giving world cities queer street cred.

HomoCulture Gay Culture Koelen Andrews

This article was published on February 27th, 2020

There’s no place like home is a feeling shared by nearly everyone, and there’s a rainbow crosswalk near you to light the way! A good indicator you’ve stumbled upon Emerald City/the gay part of town is seeing gorgeous shades of red orange yellow green blue purple pink black and brown at major intersections for pedestrians to use. The more liberal your city, the more likely you’ll see the emergence of rainbow crossings. Rainbow sidewalks: the rise of a peaceful resistance and giving world cities queer street cred.

Rainbow sidewalks are much more significant than liberal city council members making empty gestures of support to the community. Rainbow crossings inspire youth with comfort of the community, signal that the community is LGBT friendly, give place for the LGBT community, and create openness and dialogue about a community’s support for queer people. While some have been damaged and vandalized by haters, which is also symbolic of the need to have further conversations with society, most of these painting of intersections remain in tact as a solid message of solidarity.

Rainbow sidewalks are a societal phenomenon first notably seen in 2008 Taiwan. There was a campaign promoting gender equality by the National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, started in June of 2008. Dr. Prof. Jerry H. Hsia along with a creative team composed of and created by the Graduate School of Fine Arts, NTNU, took to painting a sidewalk rainbow in an effort to draw attention to their campaign.

Though it took a few years, the idea soon took off and rainbow crossings began appearing in progressive cities and countries around the globe. West Hollywood was the notable first city in America to feature the rainbow in an intersection in June of 2012 for Pride month, but was proceeded by Tel Aviv in May of the same year.

Now, rainbow crosswalks can be seen everywhere, from Taipei, Taiwan—the first country in Asia to legalize marriage—to Texas. Paris to Perth. And hundreds of gayborhoods in between. If you’re lucky enough to live in a metropolis with a rainbow crosswalk, consider yourself fortunate that you live in a place progressive enough to celebrate all people and every spectrum of the rainbow.

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