Just two weeks after the City of Atlanta approved a gay man’s plan to paint LGBT rainbow-striped crosswalks at 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue, the required private funds are well within reach, despite detractors.
The overwhelming response to the Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks project has been positive, and boosters on social media are putting their money where their mouths are. More than $16,000 of the $20,000 goal was in the coffers on Wednesday morning, just 13 days after organizers got the green light from the Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs.
“Thank you so much for making this vision of a visual message of diversity and love a reality,” Robert Sepulveda (top photo), the local gay man who envisioned the project and saw it through, posted to patrons who follow the project's progress on social media.
National attention, local fanfare, and a social media campaign are working to attract individuals and corporations to jump on board. Private donations will fully fund the project, so Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks is furiously thanking its donors as they come in. Gay-friendly corporate partner MailChimp is in the mix, and at least one big out-of-town name, designer Marc Jacobs, has signed onto the cause.
Some of the funds over and above the $20,000 needed to install the initial crosswalks will go toward maintenance, which is way more than just paint, says Wes Berry, one of the Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks organizers. The money will also fund new public art projects as part of ATLrc's spinoff non-profit “to advance the awareness of diversity and equality through public art and community outreach," Berry says.
Still, it’s not all rainbows for Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks. A few critics have said that the money raised could go directly to more worthy LGBT charities. Others incorrectly assume the project requires city funds that could go to street repairs. But critics come with the territory, and year-round visibility actually benefits overall fundraising while lifting morale in the LGBT movement, says Berry, who brings experience with another popular local charity.
“There will always be critics regarding a project or cause,” Berry tells Project Q. “As far as detracting from other causes, I can also say, as president of Joining Hearts, that this has not detracted from any donations we would typically see, and in fact, I think this has engaged the community and may even stimulate giving. Also, the Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks is 100 percent privately funded, so those that don't wish to give to this cause aren't obligated to do so and can give to other causes as they see fit.”
With or without its detractors, funds to install rainbow-colored fabulosity at the “Corner of Gay & Gayer” are pretty much a lock. By the time donors at or above the $100 level are recognized and treated to a private party in mid-September, the pot of gold at the rainbow crosswalks should be overflowing.
“Overall the support from the community has been overwhelmingly positive, and I believe this will help the LGBT community regarding visibility locally and nationally as it has in other cities where these have been installed,” Berry adds. “Plus, who doesn't like rainbows or fun crosswalks? I would rather see these than a standard crosswalk any day.”
Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks plans to install its namesake project in time for Atlanta Pride on Oct. 10. Donations are being accepted via ATLrc’s GoFundMe Page.
UPDATE | On Thursday morning, the project reached its $20,000 fundraising goal. "It has been humbling to see the community come together and show support for this project and the symbol of love and equality it represents," Sepulveda and Berry co-wrote to supporters in a Thursday post. "We are grateful for every dollar raised."