Rainbow Crosswalk Project — Where on Capitol Hill should the rainbow crosswalks go?

With victory on marriage equality, new LGBTQ group Social Outreach Seattle is moving forward on its plans to bring symbols of the gay community’s presence — and power — into the day-to-day around the city and, especially, in the Capitol Hill “gayborhood.”

Here’s what the Seattle Gay News had to say about the Rainbow Crosswalk Project earlier this year:

What does Capitol Hill already have, if anything, that gives the community pride? Perhaps Cal Anderson Park, practically every Hill resident’s home away from home during the summer months, named after the city’s first openly Gay legislator? Absolutely. Shit, it makes me proud. But is it really visible enough? Do the young people who frequent the park grounds even know who Cal Anderson was? There’s no statue of him there, only a small plaque that most people have probably never noticed before. 

The proposal: Mark crosswalks at a core Capitol Hill intersection in rainbow colors at a cost of somewhere around $8,000. The project would echo a similar effort in West Hollywood and organizers say custom crosswalks elsewhere in Wallingford and West Seattle provide a local precedent that the project can be done safely and efficiently.

Organizers from Social Outreach Seattle are moving forward with the plan and are now turning to the community to ask which intersection should get the treatment. Here are suggestions organizers have already heard, according to SGN:

Broadway & John, Broadway & Denny, Broadway & Pike, Broadway & Pine, by the Broadway Market, by The Grill on Broadway, and by the new Capitol Hill light-rail station. One respondent said, ‘Just do the whole street of Broadway.’ Another suggested doing the ends of Broadway as a sort of territory marker. 

You can weigh in on the project Facebook page facebook.com/SeattleRainbowCrosswalk.

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44 thoughts on “Rainbow Crosswalk Project — Where on Capitol Hill should the rainbow crosswalks go?

  1. I love cap hill, but as a straight guy it seems a little separatist to put up rainbow sidewalks to ‘mark the gayborhood’. I’m not going to go out and put down plaid crosswalks in straight neighborhoods to claim it from the heteros. #tacky

  2. $8000.00??????? Seriously, for colored paint that can be slapped down in an hour. WHAT AN ABSOLUTE WASTE OF MONEY. There is absoutely no return of investment for a rainbow sidewalk. And as a gay man there is NO need to slap rainbows all over the hill. Its bad enough the pocket gays are swishing down the streets of Capitol Hill. NO RAINBOWS!!!

  3. This is a great and simple way to beautify our streets and add a little symbolic art to the hill. Eight thousand dollars may seem expensive, but it’s actually rather cheap in the way of road improvements. It doesn’t matter what your sexual preference is, some people identify Capitol Hill as a welcoming and embracing neighborhood for all walks of life. It’s only fitting that we honor our gay neighbors and their triumph of marriage equality with bright colors on a non-traditional canvas and, perhaps, a little humor as well.

  4. What a quaint, sad, self-involved, and ultimately mediocre idea.

    “What does Capitol Hill already have, if anything, that gives the community pride?”

    Pride isn’t a function of what you have; it’s a function of what you’ve achieved. It’s great when it’s the result of substantive accomplishment, but uglifying a crosswalk is neither much of an accomplishment nor any notable celebration of one.

    What’s being debated here isn’t pride – it’s vanity.

    Dogs pee on corners to mark their territory. As a gay man, I expect better of myself and my community. If we want to feel proud, let’s get together and do something worthwhile. Otherwise, let’s refrain from splashing what’s little better than a primate club trademark on public property.

  5. Sheesh, for 8 grand, that had BETTER be some long-lasting, quality paint! And is it going to be florescent (sp?) paint because unless I am very much mistaken, the purpose of the white and yellow paint now utilized on roadways is intended to be make those lines visible at night and during the rain. Any chance the money could be spent on something more useful?

  6. So well said. Thank you.

    My wife and I are leaving Capitol Hill because we want a quieter, more affordable part of town. Some of the younger gay kids we are friends with feel that the Hill is being ‘taken over’ by people who are not LGBTQ and think this project is a great idea to mark our territory. The real truth they don’t want to see is that every popular neighborhood in every major city undergoes a shift where landlords raise prices and tear down beloved landmarks. After a while there is nothing else to do but either shift your expectations of quality of living or move to a different neighborhood. I don’t see us or any of our friends being ‘pushed out’ for being gay; the shift in the community is an economic one that most kids in their twenties and early thirties cannot afford, no matter their sexual identity. Maybe this project will be re-thought for a better cause.

  7. That’s a really weird sentiment in my book. As a straight man living in San Francisco, I love to see the pride down here. I fucking adore the Castro (pride flags abound), and I love how all of downtown is covered in pride flags during pride month. I proudly partook in Harvey Milk’s birthday march and was in the Pride Parade this year to boot. It’s not a gay or a straight thing. It’s a celebration of the history of some fine folks.

    It’s not an exclusionary thing either. It’s a celebration of the culture and history of the neighborhood. Capitol Hill, much like the Castro, was a haven for LGBT folks during a time where LGBT folks really didn’t have anywhere else to go. That’s an important piece of history, and Capitol Hill is an imprtant part of LGBT history in Seattle.

    I loved pride month on the Hill. It actually felt like there was some sort of neighbrhood cohesion for once. The old cranky farts, the hipsters, the students, the microsofties, the average joes could all bond over a shared neighborhood history. It’s basically the same thing as beautifying Pioneer Square or putting in Chinatown gates. Embrace your neighborhood’s history (flannel fits in there too. Not sure if you noticed but EVERYONE wears plaid in Seattle.)

  8. I see nothing wrong with this idea as long as it doesn’t come from City (taxpayer) funds. If Social Outreach Seattle wants to put forth this idea, they should raise the funds through a donation drive. If it’s privately funded, I just don’t get what all this visceral backlash is about– this isn’t any different from a GSBA beautification project posting flags or banners on lightpoles; or like in Vancouver’s West End whether they’ve specially painted bus benches and trash cans.

  9. Yea I loved the gay pride parade, and as a cap hill resident the gay culture is great! A historical statue of someone like Harvey Milk, or a plaque about the historical progress we have made with gay marriage here are appropriate and tasteful ways to celebrate history.

    Rainbow crosswalks seem like a more current symbol of gay pride than a historical reference. Marking the territory with a sign ‘gay starts here’ just doesn’t seem as tasteful. Imagine if other kinds of neighborhoods had these kinds of markings to show off their demographics. It’s not that I don’t appreciate pride, its that I don’t like associating it with a particular place I guess. Doesn’t feel like the accepting message the LGBT community is going for.

    I actually don’t like black history months, gay pride days, ethnic clubs, and all that much either. I feel that they serve to emphasize differences rather than bring people together, but that’s a bigger topic for a different day.

  10. This reminds of the common question of “why isn’t there a straight/white pride month when there is a black history month/gay pride?”

    That is because every day favors the straight and the white.

  11. Why do you feel the need to hide, ALT? Are you ashamed to be gay?

    I don’t agree with blowing $8K repainting crosswalks, but rainbows are cute and WOULD define Capitol Hill as the gay neighborhood.

    I remember 20 years ago. There were fewer street punks on Broadway, the Q Patrol was out in force and on a sunny summer day everywhere you looked there were gay couples holding hands walking down the street.

    It almost seems to me as though this crosswalk idea is 20 years late.

  12. JimS you’re incorrect. Less and less people are reading newspapers. Young people don’t read newspapers anymore. They get their news online. The average age of a newspaper reader is 56.5 and getting older every year. As the newspaper reading population gets older and dies off the circulation numbers decline. Only the national newspapers, like WSJ, USA Today and NY Times, are increasing their circulation while all other local newspaper decline in circulation every year. The decline started five years ago.

  13. No a white straight man club would be just as bad. Its not about having special groups, nor would I say every day favors the straight and white – that’s over simplistic. Many of the reasons you see these types of divisions is because it is psychologically helpful for some people who feel persecuted as a minority to identify with a culture. Ethnicity and religion have typically been the basis of these movements because those groups have a place and a set of traditions to go back to. Gay culture is sort of interesting in that respect because its traditions and symbols are somewhat invented – rainbows, flamboyant colors, and sexuality are celebrated.

    In the same way that you will see inner city kids talk a certain way and wear a certain style of clothes, some gay people become heavily invested in the culture. They might talk and dress outrageously – yet the most comfortably gay people I know do not. Just as one might say gangster culture holds the inner city back, in some ways embracing a prideful culture can be both helpful, but divisive if it makes others feel less welcome.

    So my distinction is that celebrating history is wonderful. Have some respect for the leaders of great movements – civil rights, women’s suffrage, gay rights, religious persecution. People *should* be proud of their own identity. Pride week is awesome because it is about the individual, bur I get a bit miffed when we say we want to mark the neighborhood and say “We’re gay here”. We’re not just gay, we’re everything. We have a rich history of acceptance and that is what is so wonderful to me about the area – if there’s a monument or symbol to put up, make it about that.

    Or maybe you’re right and I’m just sad I don’t have a club to belong to ;-)

  14. Just a friendly FYI – those beautification projects like lightpole banners, holiday decorations and flower baskets are funded by the Broadway BIA (the Broadway Business Improvement Association), the merchants group on Broadway.

  15. maybe its just me, but I can’t stand it when the term “sexual preference” is used. I have yet to meet the person that CHOSE their sexual orientation. Preference infers choice. I know I didn’t have a choice. Just sayin’…..

  16. No, Media Buyer, I’m not incorrect. All your blather about how many fewer people are reading print media now wasn’t the question. UGH’s point was essentially “nobody reads the SGN anymore”. This is false. Lots of people still read the SGN. The question wasn’t whether it’s as many as it used to be, nor whether it’s thousands or tens of thousands, or what some would call a huge circulation. The SGN is both a specialized news source and a bar rag, and is still read by a lot of people, because it still serves exactly the same purpose it ever did. The dozens of heavily Capitol Hill businesses who still advertise in it every week obviously agree.

  17. Yes, you’re right, but cut them some slack and don’t fault their intention. It’s not really any worse than not knowing the difference between “infer” and “imply”.

  18. Please don’t! I love the Hill and all my neighbors, have been an avid eaqual rights advocate, but this is just bad taste! Who really likes rainbows besides 7 year old girls? (alright the rare real thing is pretty cool, but the dumb graphic representation: cheese!).
    B.t.w. Is anyone aware of any hetero symbology in infrastructure?
    Personally, crosswalks remind me of zebras….

  19. Absolutely not. There’s already enough going on in Capitol Hill that’s distracting. The last thing we need is people getting into accidents because they are blinded by these new crosswalks. And I’m pretty sure Capitol Hill is already identifiable as the “gayborhood”. IF that money is raised, it should go to organizations that benefit people and not repainting our crosswalks.

  20. This is a nice idea, but there’s a couple logistical issues with it.
    -The often mentioned issue of colors interfering with the visibility of the crosswalk during night and rain

    -The fact that the crosswalk will fade and wear away with time, and eventually look awful. Does the $8000 figure include touch ups, too? When it wears away, is it going to be recognizable as the remnants of a crosswalk?

  21. God this neighborhood has gotten dull and dour. I’ve been here almost about 11 years now. One of the things that attracted me to Capitol Hill was the vibrant quirky vibe, the public/street art, the people watching. Now all there is to watch is condos being built and boring people moving in. I think this is a fun idea and a way to honor the history and character of Capitol Hill. Sure social services are important (hell, I am a social worker, you don’t need to tell me, I spend all my days searching desperately for resources), but art is also an an important part of the community (I am sure a lot of you are for government funding of the arts, right???). And I sure hope that all of the people saying “That money could go to better use,” make a regular habit of donating their own money to good causes.

  22. For those of you saying, “why don’t we come together and do something good instead?”, do you realize we the HUGE victory we just came from? We just passed a Ref. 74 and got Marriage Equality- we came together as a city and as a state, but mainly as a city, since Seattle and the Western seaboard of Washington carried the election, to win decisively. Let’s celebrate our victory by marking Capitol Hill as the “gayborhood” in Seattle.

    Yes the whole city is friendly- in fact, my wife and I live in West Seattle and we actually like it more than Capitol Hill. Hell, paint the crosswalks out there- there are probably more lesbians out there anyway. But let’s have some fun in this city. Brighten it up, bring some color, and celebrate our LOVE with a crosswalk of color!

  23. We really need a crosswalk at the Pike & Minor/ Melrose intersection. Currently there isn’t any sort of crosswalk there and it can be really difficult and sketchy to cross Pike St. at certain times. A rainbow striped one would not only look awesome, I also feel it would make crossing there even a bit more safer.
    Please consider this as a possible place to put a rainbow crosswalk, I know the neighbors in the area would appreciate it as well. I constantly see people trying to cross and cars not even slowing down…