City of Atlanta crews worked through downpours and a holiday weekend to permanently install rainbow crosswalks in the heart of the gayborhood
The work started early Saturday as police helped shut down the well-traveled intersection of Piedmont Avenue and 10th Street. It continued into the evening and all weekend to get the four new crosswalks completed ahead of the Peachtree Road Race, which brought tens of thousands of participants across them on their way to ending the 10K in Piedmont Park.
In June, Mayor Kasim Reed pledged to install the rainbow crosswalks – permanently – after volunteers raised funds for a temporary version during Atlanta Pride in 2015. A petition brought renewed publicity to the crosswalks earlier this year. Reed said the crosswalks would return during an announcement on June 12 – the first anniversary of the Pulse massacre in Orlando.
The rainbow crosswalks have garnered widespread affection, tons of reactions and most everyone seems to have an opinion about them. A Georgia Voice video of the installation received more than 264,000 views, 4,100 reactions, 2,300 shares and 3,600 comments. And some LGBT activists argue they don't go far enough. Longtime Atlanta resident Monica Helms, who created the Transgender Pride flag in 1999, argued that the installation should include trans colors.
"Remember that Georgia has the 4th largest percentage of trans people in the country and the 5th largest by numbers," Helms wrote in a Facebook post on July 1, urging people to call Reed and City Council member Alex Wan, the council's only openly LGBT member.
"One of the rainbow crosswalks can be painted over after the fact," Helms added.
Atlanta now joins the likes of San Francisco, Seattle, Key West, Philadelphia, Toronto and other cities that have rainbow crosswalks. Once they were installed over the weekend, gay Atlanta couldn't get enough. The rainbow crosswalk selfies were unrelenting.
Well this happened last night. You may say it's just some paint, but it means a whole lot to a whole lot of people. If you don't understand why this so important, try to understand why you have never needed it. To me, it's a symbol of all those who came before me, that fought to make my path and many others, easier. And, a continuation for those who still can't live their lives as their true selves. #proudAF #pride #beyourself #itgetsbetter #atlcrosswalk #4thofjuly #america
Photos by Russ Youngblood