DIY rainbow crossing

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The original Rainbow Crossing on Oxford St at Taylor Square. (April 2013)

DIY rainbow crossing was a protest movement that emerged in Sydney in 2013. The campaign involved members of the community creating rainbow pedestrian crossings in chalk to protest the removal of a temporary rainbow crossing from Oxford Street in Sydney, New South Wales. The temporary crossing was created by the City of Sydney as part of the 35th anniversary celebration of the Sydney Mardi Gras. When the crossing was to be removed, the community protests and internet activism campaign emerged.


The rainbow flag or gay pride flag, is associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and LGBT activities around the world.

Rainbow crosswalks, West Hollywood 2012[edit]

The idea to create rainbow crosswalks appears to have first emerged in West Hollywood as part of the 2012 Gay Pride Month celebrations, initially proposed by the LA based artist Martin Duvander[1] with the crosswalks at the intersection of San Vicente Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard painted rainbow colors for the month of June.[2]

Rainbow crosswalks, Tel Aviv 2012[edit]

In May 2012, Tel Aviv city hall painted a crosswalk in rainbow colors[3] for a photo shoot to promote TYP: Ivri Lider and Johnny Goldstein, the act scheduled to headline the Gay Pride Parade's main concert. These photos, reminiscent of the Beatles Abbey Road album cover were posted on Facebook and the crosswalk was repainted white a few hours later.[4]

Rainbow crossing, Sydney 2013[edit]

The project to create a temporary rainbow crossing in Sydney was modelled on the similar crossings in West Hollywood.[5] On 10 December 2012, City of Sydney Council voted in favour of creating temporary Rainbow Crossings on Oxford Street as a trial, "subject to relevant State Government approvals".[6][7] The location chosen, Oxford Street by Taylor Square, was the starting point of the original Sydney Gay Mardi Gras and the crossing was to form part of the 35th anniversary celebrations.[8] The estimated cost of the Rainbow Crossing was $110,000, which included painting, compulsory video surveillance and eventual removal.[9]

The rainbow crossing in Sydney proved popular with tourists and locals and many people hoped it would be made a permanent feature of the Oxford Street landscape. During the community debate over the future of the rainbow crossing, following the Sydney Mardi Gras, the NSW government Minister for Roads and Ports, Duncan Gay MLC, published a letter to the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, listing the reasons for the removal of the temporary crossing on the grounds of pedestrian safety.[10] On Tuesday 9 April 2013, the temporary crossing was removed.[11]

Community protests and internet activism[edit]

The removal of the crossing inspired a community protest[12] with people responding by creating their own DIY rainbow crossings and sharing pictures on social media.[13][14][15] The campaign also featured internet activism with a Facebook Page, created by James Brechney.[16] Pictures of chalk rainbow crossings from many places around the world appeared on social media including Paris, Shanghai, Pretoria, Thailand and Cambodia.[17]

Summer Hill Rainbow Crossing[edit]

Support for the rainbow crossing spread across Sydney, including local communities. On April 14, 2013, in response to the removal of the Rainbow Crossing in Oxford St, Darlinghurst,[18] parents and children from several local schools chalked a rainbow in the public square at Summer Hill, as part of the DIY Rainbow Crossing movement.

The Summer Hill Rainbow Crossing

On April 15, 2013, Ashfield Council workers removed the rainbow.[19] After media attention, council issued a statement labelling it a slip hazard and requested a permit be obtained before it could be re-chalked. The events were covered in The Daily Telegraph,[20] The Australian,[21] Perth Now,[22] and on 2DAY FM.[23]

On April 17, 2013, it was rechalked by more than 100 people, including local councillor, Alex Lofts. On April 18, it was again removed, only to be re-chalked. Since that date it has remained chalked. A group of families and supporters continue to chalk the rainbow, especially after rain. This group has also ensured the area remains free of litter; they also hold occasional performances and arts-related celebrations at the site. Some local businesses have offered discounts and support for the rainbow, these display a logo with a stylised image of the rainbow crossing on it. A Summer Hill Rainbow Crossing[24] Facebook page was used to support the community protest.

At an Ashfield Council meeting on 28 May 2013 the council passed a motion that a permanent outline of a rainbow be painted in Summer Hill Square, with the understanding that this may be periodically 'chalked in' by children, families and community members.[25]

Wider adoption of the protest movement[edit]

The original DIY rainbow crossing protest movement was generated by the debate over the rainbow crossing in Sydney, however DIY rainbow crossings continue to appear as protests in other settings including a crossing outside the Russian embassy in Stockholm, Sweden in August 2013 believed to be in protest against new legislation in Russia.[26][27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Duvander, Martin (October 18, 2012). "Rainbow Crosswalks: Why I, a Straight Man, Wanted West Hollywood to Be a Little Gayer". Huff Post Gay Voices. Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Mills, James F. (7 June 2012). "Rainbow Crosswalks to Span Boystown Intersection". Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Tel Aviv Crosswalks Painted Rainbow Colors for Gay Pride Parade". The Algemeiner. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Lior, Ilan (16 May 2012). "Tel Aviv's rainbow crosswalk draws cheers, then jeers, online". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Lloyd, Lauren. "West Hollywood's Permanent Rainbow Crosswalks to Color Streets Come October". laist. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Moore, Clover. "Item 3.1. Rainbow Crossing Oxford Street" (PDF). Minute by the Mayor, 25 February 2013. City of Sydney. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  7. ^ Akersten, Matt. "Oxford St to get rainbow crossings". Same Same. Archived from the original on 5 April 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Moore, Clover. "Item 3.1. Rainbow Crossing Oxford Street" (PDF). Minute by the Mayor, 25 February 2013. City of Sydney. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Gay, Duncan. "Oxford Street Rainbow Pedestrian Crossing" (PDF). NSW Department Transport, Roads and Maritime Services. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  11. ^ Walker, Ian and Taylor Auerbach. "It's the end of the rainbow crossing on Oxford St". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Gay rainbow cover-up aggressive: Moore". SBS World News Australia. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Cugnetto, Lisa. "Social Media Lessons From the DIY Rainbow Movement". Business 2 Community. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  14. ^ Tovey, Ana. "Social media helped link a Dubbo footpath to the global DIY Rainbow protest movement.". ABC. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "DIY rainbow gallery". Flickr. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  16. ^ Young, Matt. "DIY rainbow revolution goes global". Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "A world of DIY rainbows". SameSame. Archived from the original on 22 July 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
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  24. ^ "Summer Hill Rainbow Crossing". Facebook. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  25. ^ Sharples, Sarah (29 May 2013). "Summer Hill gets first permanent rainbow crossing in NSW". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  26. ^ Ogelid, Linn (10 August 2013). "Regnbågskupp utanför ryska ambassaden". Svt Nyheter. Archived from the original on 13 August 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  27. ^ "Russia: Anti-Gay Row 'Invented' By Western Media". 18 August 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2013.