We hope you enjoyed your 4th of July holiday yesterday. This week we talked about pride and independence mainly as they relate to gay rights and the gay community in and around Philadelphia. If you missed our special feature LGBT50 event calendar earlier this week, you can find it here. Today in our Sunday Spotlight we’re introducing you to Philly’s Rainbow Crosswalk.
We talked to Fran Price to get the details on where it is, what it is, and why you should check it out. Price is the Executive Director Of Philly Pride Presents, Inc. Philly Pride is an organization that with the help of volunteer coordinators, holds pride events in the city of Philadelphia, the purpose of which is “the advancement of LGBT rights through the visibility and awareness that the parades and festivals create.”
Let me first ask you where the crosswalk is located?
“13th and Locust. Right in the heart of the Gayborhood.”
For those who aren’t familiar, what area encompasses the Gayborhood?
“It’s basically from 11th street to Broad st., actually to Juniper St. And from Walnut (though by some accounts Chestnut St.) to Pine, right in Center City.”
Where did the idea for the crosswalk come from?
“We actually had a board member who went on vacation a few years ago and saw one similar and sent us back pictures saying, “wouldn’t this be really cool to have in Philly?” We all agreed and we starting asking people about getting it done and we got a lot of people saying “no way”. Then a little over a year and a half ago someone posted something on our Facebook wall asking if we would consider doing it, or if we knew how to go about doing it. So we just started working on it from then on.”
Was it a difficult process?
“It was long process. You have to go through so many departments within the city and find the right agencies to help you.”
What was the involvement of Philly Pride Presents?
“It was our idea. We kept pressing for it. Senior Advisor Chuck Volz kept on me about it and I’d go bother whoever needed to be on top of it.”
Would you consider the crosswalk an attraction for the city?
“Absolutely. Our office is around the corner and every time I go by I see people stopping to look, taking selfies in front of it, taking pictures. I see all kinds of people. I saw three kids making a pyramid on it and getting their picture taken. I saw a gentleman today taking a picture squatting down with his baby in the carriage right in front of the rainbow.”
Do you think the recent Supreme Court decision on marriage equality being so close to the dedication might actually bolster the tourism aspect of it?
“I’m sure it will. There are only 4 or 5 cities that have anything like it, so it is a draw. Plus rainbows are colorful. No matter who you are, rainbows mean beautiful colors. People love them. Kids love rainbows. Think of all the kids toys that are done in rainbow colors. We have a different meaning for it of course, but people love rainbows. Someone said the other day that now they know where to tell people to meet them in the city. Meet me at the rainbow crosswalk. It can be another landmark or point of interest that is easy for someone coming in to town to find and meet.
That’s a great idea. Do you know what other cities have a similar crosswalk?
“I believe Seattle, Vancouver, and San Francisco have them. I think Chicago also has something similar, but they are temporary. If people want to see them or visit them, they can go online and look up rainbow crosswalks and the different locations will come up.”
There’s a lot of special events going on this weekend with the LGBT50 events. How does that tie in with the crosswalk?
“We’re actually having the dedication of the crosswalk this Sunday at 1:00 (note: at interview time the LGBT50 site states that the event begins at 11:30 a.m. however Philly Pride’s Facebook page notes the time was moved to 1:00). I believe we have a few of the original protestors in town for the dedication and we’re actually planning to have them be the first to walk across after the dedication.”
And there is an event following the dedication?
“It’s the Annual Reminders block party. That’s the finale of all of the events for the week basically. That will be held in the Gayborhood as well. We’ll be closing off 10th street. We have lots of vendors and networking and it’ll be fun for everyone. (Price noted that they were anticipating roughly 40 vendors initially but are at 107 at the time of this interview)
PhillyGayPride.org has more details on the dedication, block party and more. If you can’t make it out to the dedication or the block party, the crosswalk is an attraction that fortunately you can access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for free. Unique and symbolic, it’s something we think our readers would like to know about, and something they’d like to check out for themselves. Not to mention, it’s very picture worthy. Instagram anyone? We feel it is well deserving of this week’s Sunday Spotlight.