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. 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. In 2019 a permanent Sydney rainbow crossing was unveiled in Taylor Square, on the corner of Bourke and Campbell streets.


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, Taipei, Taiwan 2008[1][edit]

The idea to create rainbow crosswalks appears to have first emerged in Taipei, Taiwan . A campaign for promoting gender equality organized by the National Taiwan Normal University at the beginning of June, 2008. The creators were Dr.Prof. Jerry H. Hsia and the creative team formed by the Graduate School of Fine Arts, NTNU.

Federal Highway Administration Advisory, 2011[edit]

In 2011, the United States Federal Highway Agency advised "that “crosswalk art is actually contrary to the goal of increased safety and most likely could be a contributing factor to a false sense of security for both motorists and pedestrians.”[2]

Rainbow crosswalks, West Hollywood 2012[edit]

The idea to create rainbow crosswalks in West Hollywood was part of the 2012 Gay Pride Month celebrations, initially proposed by the LA-based artist Martin Duvander[3] with the crosswalks at the intersection of San Vicente Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard painted rainbow colours for the month of June.[4]

Rainbow crosswalks, Tel Aviv 2012[edit]

In May 2012, Tel Aviv city hall painted a crosswalk in rainbow colours[5] 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.[6]

Rainbow crossing, Sydney 2013[edit]

The project to create a temporary rainbow crossing in Sydney was modelled on the similar crossings in West Hollywood.[7] 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".[8][9] 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.[10] The estimated cost of the Rainbow Crossing was $110,000, which included painting, compulsory video surveillance and eventual removal.[11]

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.[12] On Tuesday 9 April 2013, the temporary crossing was removed.[13]

Rainbow crosswalks, St. Louis 2015[edit]

In June 2015, rainbow crossings at Tower Grove and Manchester Crossing in St. Louis, Missouri were painted to celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage. In 2016, the city decided to follow the Federal Highway Administration's 2011 advice and prohibited rainbow and fleur-de-lis crosswalks.[2]

Rainbow crosswalks, Minneapolis 2018[edit]

In June 2018, the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota unveiled four rainbow crosswalks to celebrate Twin Cities Pride festivities.[14]

Rainbow crossing, Sydney 2019[edit]

Rainbow Crossing at Taylor Square in March 2019

On 8 February 2019, a permanent Sydney rainbow crossing was unveiled in Taylor Square, on the corner of Bourke and Campbell streets.[15]

Rainbow crosswalk, Albuquerque 2019[edit]

In early June 2019, the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico unveiled a rainbow crosswalk on historic US Route 66.[16] Just a few days later, a motorcycle gang caused a significant amount of damage to the $30,000 crossing with his motorcycle. Even though at least a dozen bikers were shown on video, only one man, a Trump supporter named Anthony Morgan was arrested for the crime.[17][18]

Rainbow crosswalks, Ames, Iowa 2019[edit]

In early September 2019, the city council of Ames, Iowa cut the ribbon on a rainbow crosswalk. Subsequently the Federal Highway Administration sent them a letter "requesting" that it be removed. The city council ignored the letter.[19][20]

Rainbow crosswalks, San Diego 2020[edit]

On January 11, 2010, a rainbow crosswalk was unveiled under the pre-existing rainbow flag in the Hillcrest neighborhood in San Diego, California.[21][22] Openly lesbian State Senate President pro tem Toni Atkins and openly gay Assemblymember Todd Gloria praised "out and proud" city council member Chris Ward for "getting the job done." Openly lesbian council members Jennifer Campbell and Georgette Gomez also attended the "Catwalk on the Crosswalk."[23][24]

Community protests and internet activism[edit]

The removal of the crossing inspired a rainbow chalk community protest started by Sydney local James Brechney.[25] People followed his lead by creating their own DIY rainbow crossings with chalk and sharing pictures on social media.[26][27][28] The campaign also featured internet activism with the Facebook Page, DIY Rainbow.[29] Pictures of chalk rainbow crossings from many places around the world appeared on social media including Paris, Shanghai, Pretoria, Thailand and Cambodia.[30] Facebook would later credit DIY Rainbow as one of the top 10 pages of Facebook over its first 10 years.[31]

Summer Hill Rainbow Crossing[edit]

Support for the rainbow crossing spread across Sydney, including local communities. On 14 April 2013, in response to the removal of the Rainbow Crossing in Oxford St, Darlinghurst,[32] 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 15 April 2013, Ashfield Council workers removed the rainbow.[33] 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,[34] The Australian,[35] Perth Now,[36] and on 2DAY FM.[37]

On 17 April 2013, it was rechalked by more than 100 people, including local councillor, Alex Lofts. On 18 April, 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[citation needed] 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.[38]

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.[39][40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ""彩虹人行道"今日台北上路_深圳同志网". 0755tz.net. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b Taketa, Kristen. "St. Louis will let crosswalk art that violates federal rules fade away". stltoday.com. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  3. ^ Duvander, Martin (18 October 2012). "Rainbow Crosswalks: Why I, a Straight Man, Wanted West Hollywood to Be a Little Gayer". Huff Post Gay Voices. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  4. ^ Mills, James F. (7 June 2012). "Rainbow Crosswalks to Span Boystown Intersection". Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Tel Aviv Crosswalks Painted Rainbow Colors for Gay Pride Parade". The Algemeiner. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  6. ^ Lior, Ilan (16 May 2012). "Tel Aviv's rainbow crosswalk draws cheers, then jeers, online". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  7. ^ Lloyd, Lauren. "West Hollywood's Permanent Rainbow Crosswalks to Color Streets Come October". laist. Archived from the original on 16 November 2014. 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  9. ^ Akersten, Matt. "Oxford St to get rainbow crossings". Same Same. Archived from the original on 5 April 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  10. ^ Moore, Clover. "Item 3.1. Rainbow Crossing Oxford Street" (PDF). Minute by the Mayor, 25 February 2013. City of Sydney. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Gay, Duncan. "Oxford Street Rainbow Pedestrian Crossing" (PDF). NSW Department Transport, Roads and Maritime Services. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  13. ^ Walker, Ian and Taylor Auerbach. "It's the end of the rainbow crossing on Oxford St". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  14. ^ sarahmckenzie10@gmail.com (22 June 2018). "City unveils rainbow crosswalks for Twin Cities Pride". City of Minneapolis News. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  15. ^ "Sydney unveils permanent rainbow crossing ahead of Mardi Gras". Topics. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  16. ^ "Albuquerque unveils rainbow crosswalk". New Mexico Daily Lobo. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  17. ^ Staff, The Gaily Grind (12 June 2019). "Trump Supporter Arrested For Allegedly Vandalizing Rainbow Crosswalk With Motorcycle". The Gaily Grind. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  18. ^ Writers, Matthew Reisen And Jessica Dyer | Journal Staff. "Motorcycle crew vandalizes $30,000 rainbow crosswalk". www.abqjournal.com. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  19. ^ Rueb, Emily S. (7 October 2019). "The Government Says Rainbow Crosswalks Could Be Unsafe. Are They Really?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  20. ^ kmullen@amestrib.com, Kylee Mullen, Staff Writer. "Inclusive crosswalks unveiled in downtown Ames". The Ames Tribune. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  21. ^ "City's first rainbow crosswalk celebrates LGBTQ+ pride in Hillcrest". San Diego Union-Tribune. 12 January 2020. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  22. ^ "Rainbow Crosswalk Unveiled in Hillcrest – NBC 7 San Diego". web.archive.org. 12 January 2020. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  23. ^ "Hillcrest to get rainbow crosswalk". KGTV. 7 January 2020. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  24. ^ Stone, Chris (12 January 2020). "True Colors in Hillcrest: First Special Crosswalk Has Rainbow Connection". Times of San Diego. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  25. ^ [youtube.com/watch?v=sQWa76xrqhc "DIY Rainbow on 9 News, April 2013"] Check |url= value (help). Youtube. 9 Network. 15 April 2013. [youtube.com/watch?v=sQWa76xrqhc Archived] Check |archiveurl= value (help) from the original on |archive-url= requires |archive-date= (help).
  26. ^ Cugnetto, Lisa. "Social Media Lessons From the DIY Rainbow Movement". Business 2 Community. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  27. ^ Tovey, Ana. "Social media helped link a Dubbo footpath to the global DIY Rainbow protest movement". ABC. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  28. ^ "DIY rainbow gallery". Flickr. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  29. ^ Young, Matt. "DIY rainbow revolution goes global". News.com.au. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  30. ^ "A world of DIY rainbows". SameSame. Archived from the original on 22 July 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  31. ^ Brechney, James; ContributorFounder; Rainbow, D. I. Y. (4 February 2014). "DIY Rainbow: How Australia Showed Its Support For Gay Rights With Chalk And Facebook". HuffPost. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  32. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/end-of-the-rainbow-as-workers-cover-crossing-20130410-2hm3o.html
  33. ^ http://www.ashfield.nsw.gov.au/
  34. ^ http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/inner-west/no-gold-at-end-of-ashfield-councils-rainbow-as-they-wash-away-hazardous-diy-chanlk-rainbow/story-fngr8h4f-1226620889896
  35. ^ http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/chalk-rainbow-crossings-washed-from-city-streets-by-councils/story-e6frg6n6-1226620872192
  36. ^ http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/national/chalk-rainbow-crossings-washed-from-city-streets-by-councils/story-fndo4gtr-1226620872192
  37. ^ http://www.2dayfm.com.au/newsfeed/rainbow-crossings-a-global-hit/
  38. ^ Sharples, Sarah (29 May 2013). "Summer Hill gets first permanent rainbow crossing in NSW". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  39. ^ Ogelid, Linn (10 August 2013). "Regnbågskupp utanför ryska ambassaden". Svt Nyheter. Archived from the original on 13 August 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  40. ^ "Russia: Anti-Gay Row 'Invented' By Western Media". 18 August 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2013.