By David Pendered
The Atlanta City Council is slated to vote Monday on a proposal to allow the rainbow flag to be painted on the road as four crosswalks at the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and 10th Street. The artwork is to be removed a few days after the Atlanta Pride Festival.
Atlanta Councilmember Kwanza Hall sponsored the resolution to allow the crosswalks to be painted. Hall also sponsored a resolution this month that established every June 26 as LGBT Equality Day.
The original plan for the crosswalks envisioned them as a permanent installation. Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza later determined the installation would be temporary, citing the city’s need to establish a better policy regarding such projects.
The project’s Facebook page attributes this letter to Mendoza:
- “We have multiple requests for artwork on city streets and need to work on a more permanent policy to manage in terms of public safety in the future at which time dpw [sic] will be happy to work with you on a permanent facility for this location.”
Advocates are asking supporters to contact Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and various city officials.
The pending legislation sets the time frame from about Oct. 3 through about Oct. 16. The Atlanta Pride Festival is scheduled Oct. 10 and Oct. 11.
Atlanta artist Robert Sepulveda Jr. has proposed to paint the crosswalks in an installation entitled, “The Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks.” Bright rainbow strips of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple are to be painted as crosswalks. Two bands are to be 10 feet wide, and two bands are to be 11 feet wide, according to the legislation.
Sepulveda works as an interior designer and his perspectives are shaped by his childhood in his native Puerto Rico, according to his website.
The legislation was drafted by Robin Shahar. Shahar, a chief counsel in the city’s Law Department, serves Reed as his top advisor on LGBT issues.
Sepulveda’s website notes that he chose the intersection because it is the, “epicenter of the LGBT community.”
The legislation quotes Sepulveda as describing the artwork as: “[A] visual message of acceptance, unity and tolerance that reminds us all of how diverse the [LGBT] community and its allies are.”
On his webpage, Sepulveda goes on to say that the artwork represents a broad scope of issues:
- “What I’d like you to know is that, this is not just an LGBT issue and these are not just painted crosswalks; The crosswalks themselves will bring the advancement of unity and awareness of human rights through public art and the foundation built around, The Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks will reach deep into the Atlanta community with plans community outreach and interaction. We all know Atlanta is in the center of the Deep South with religion being at the core of many family bonds as well as very rural areas only minutes away from Midtown. My mission behind these crosswalks are for everyone to know, whether they are just coming out, closeted, bi, trans, having difficulty accepting themselves; whether they are too afraid to share who they really are or to afraid be who they really want to be; those that family members disowned or shunned; and like many of us that have faced discrimination because of who we love and how we were born, that yes, you are welcome here, you are safe here and you will be treated with respect and dignity and the City of Atlanta itself stands behind you.”
Sepulveda proposes to install, maintain, and remove the artwork at no cost to the city, according to the legislation. He passed his original fundraising goal of $20,000 by raising $40,000, according to the project’s Facebook page.
The board of Neighborhood Planning Unit E unanimously endorsed the project in a vote taken June 2, according to the legislation.
NPU-E represents neighborhoods including Ansley Park and Sherwood Forest on the north, to Georgia Tech and Marietta Street Artery on the south.