Rainbow Crosswalk Plan in Austin Gayborhood Gets Pushback

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West Hollywood, Calif., started a phenomenon in 2012 when they painted the gayborhood’s crosswalks with the colors of the freedom flag. Cities such as London, San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver have since followed suit, most without controversy. However, a request to paint rainbows on Bettie Naylor Street (W. Fourth) here in Austin is getting some surprise pushback.

When Paul Huddleston, president of the Austin Pride Foundation, and Council Member Mike Martinez held discussions with local business owners, the two were met with unexpected hostility from the Hangar, Truluck’s, Cedar Street Court\0xADyard, and Peche. “I was blown away by what I was hearing,” said Steph Smith, business development director of L Style G Style. “In a public meeting at City Hall, people were actually visibly angered by the idea.” Rob Pate, Peche’s owner, said, “Oilcan’s, Castro’s, and Rain are absolutely wonderful neighbors, but when you deviate from the norm, it could open a Pandora’s box.”

Some of the objectors felt they had succeeded in putting the kibosh on the conversation altogether by declaring anything but standard white crosswalks illegal. We made a few phone calls. Texas’ adoption of crosswalk art actually predates the California rainbow crosswalk idea by several years. Hous\0xADton’s Museum of Fine Arts installed kinetic op-art on several adjacent crosswalks in 2009. Minnette Boesel, special assistant to Houston Mayor Annise Parker on cultural affairs, was quick to reply when asked about the legal and safety concerns: “There have been none that I am aware of. Everyone loves [the crosswalks]. I’ve never heard anything but praise for them.”

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Authored By David Estlund- See the Full Story at the Austin Chronicle

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