The gender-diversity group that kept painting unsanctioned rainbows at a downtown Juneau crosswalk finally won: The City and Borough of Juneau let them paint an approved rainbow on a crosswalk at the corner of Main and Front Streets in the heart of downtown. It was paid for with private funds raised at GoFundMe.com
It is bright, even garish in its fresh-paint phase, and it’s got a social change message painted all over it: The rainbow is the adopted flag of the LGBTQ movement, representing gay pride and acceptance. According to Wikipedia, it is the symbol of a social movement.
Although one cannot trademark a rainbow, the gay pride movement has achieved virtual ownership of the rainbow flag as a symbol with strong and sometimes controversial political and policy meaning in our culture.
Some Juneau conservatives are not impressed that the city is allowing city streets to become canvases for political messages. One critic asked why there are not crosswalks painted with the flag of Israel to show solidarity with a nation that is always under persecution. How about painting the symbol of a donkey on a crosswalk? An anti-climate change crosswalk? A crosswalk devoted to POW/MIAs? Or maybe salmon, our state’s favorite finned protein? Who could be opposed to any variation on the rainbow crosswalk theme?
“It puts the city into a position of having to make a decision the next time an advocacy group comes to City Hall and asks if it can paint a crosswalk,” explained a critic, speaking on terms of anonymity.
The project is being done in collaboration with the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, and the $10,000 to be raised for the project will keep it in paint for the next three years, with the expectation that it will have to be repainted annually. It is a pilot project, and the group indicates that other rainbow crosswalks could pop up in Juneau in the future.
Juneau isn’t the first to have a rainbow crosswalk project. San Antonio, Seattle, St. Louis, Phoenix, and dozens of other cities and towns have pioneered the political paint jobs.