How Crosswalks Are Becoming a Site of LGBT Resistance

June 16th 2017

Willie Burnley Jr.

Pride crosswalks in Lethbridge, Canada, were vandalized for the second time in three days this week.

Pride Crosswalk

The latest incident is believed to have occurred sometime Wednesday night when the vandal (or vandals) covered a rainbow crosswalk—placedthere in preparation for Lethbridge Pride Fest—with tar and manure. It was found by an employee of the city early Thursday morning.

The acts of vandalism come a month after Lethbridge decided that the crosswalks would be made permanent. Levi Cox, chair of the 2016 Lethbridge Pride Fest, said in a Facebook post that the vandals had merely given supporters a “reason and cause” to come out and celebrate.

Days before the latest vandalism, visible tire marks were found on the transgender flag crosswalk and the rainbow crosswalk in Lethbridge. At the time, organizers of the festival blasted the hate crime in a Facebook post:

“These marks are blatantly deliberate, and nearly identical to a similar incident in Saskatoon earlier this month. This is a direct attack on the LGBTQ+ community and specifically the Transgender community.

However, we at Lethbridge Pride Fest know this is the action of a few small minded, intolerant people. We know that this incident does not define Lethbridge. We know that Lethbridge as whole is inclusive, welcoming and supportive.”

The acts of vandalism coincided with the one year anniversary of the attack on Pulse, in which 49 people were killed and more than 50 injured during a mass shooting in the Orlando gay nightclub.

June 12 was locally-designated “Orlando United Day” in honor of those killed, with marchers in Pride processions across the globe carrying signs remembering the predominantly LGBTQ Latino victims of the attack.

Amid the bigotry, there has also been progress.

In Atlanta, a rainbow crosswalk was made permanent in the city’s historically LGBTQ neighborhood during the anniversary.

"I believe that symbols of unity matter; in recognition of the outstanding and ongoing contributions of Atlanta’s LGBTQ community to our city, I am pleased to announce today that the City will install the rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and 10th Street year-round," Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed said.

The move to symbolically make the city more inclusive didn’t come out of nowhere. In May, more than 20,000 people signed a petition in support of the permanent crosswalk plan.