After some prodding from City Council member Kirk McPike, a couple of Alexandria crosswalks could get a Pride-themed makeover next year.
A presentation heading to the City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 28 — somewhat overshadowed by the Zoning for Housing vote that evening — includes details on plans to install rainbow artwork at a couple of crosswalks along King Street.
Rainbow crossings represent the rainbow flag associated with the LGBTQ community. There were several options in consideration for the crosswalks, from painting between existing lines to a brick-style “streetprint.”
The LGBTQ+ Task Force and Human Rights Commission said they prefer the brick aesthetic. The Commission also suggested using the Progress Pride Flag colors — which includes light blue, pink and white stripes to represent trans and non-binary individuals and brown and black ones to represent People of Color.
The staff recommendation echoed the Commission’s recommendations: a Progress Pride flag in stamped brick style.
The new rainbow crosswalks could be coming to King Street at Fairfax Street and Royal Streets.
The presentation said the plan is to have the rainbow crosswalks installed by June 1, the start of Pride Month.
Photo via Cory Woodward/Unsplash
At a City Council meeting earlier this week, City Council member Kirk McPike urged city staff to take another look at adding a rainbow crosswalk to King Street and Pride-themed art in the pedestrian zone.
“A few months ago, members of the Human Rights Commission came to me to express their dismay that city staff had declined a request to place rainbow crosswalks at King Street and Washington Street,” McPike said. “Undeterred, members of the Commission came to me with a different option: streetscape of 100 block of King Street.”
In 2021, the City of Alexandria permanently converted the 100 block of King Street into a pedestrian-only zone. Since then, the city has looked for ways to make the block look and feel more permanent.
But McPike said he still holds out hope for the rainbow crosswalk idea.
“We also discussed the rationale behind opposing the original proposed crosswalks, which might make sense on paper but hasn’t been borne out in reality,” McPike said. “More than 100 cities across the world have installed rainbow crosswalks including Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadephia, Milwaukee, Albuquerque, and even Alexandria’s very own suburb: Washington D.C. There’s no evidence that such crosswalks have resulted in a reduction of pedestrian safety.”
With the support of the City Council, McPike told city staff to come back to the Council in October or November with a report on the feasibility of new pride artwork and new rainbow crosswalks.
The potential to add new rainbow crosswalks should please at least one bizarrely specific Twitter account:
— Does Alexandria Have a Rainbow Crosswalk Yet? (@alxrainbow) June 5, 2023
The City of Alexandria is kicking off Pride Month next weekend with an afternoon of everything from spoken word poetry to a “Drag Queen Story Hour.”
The 6th annual kick-off event is scheduled for Saturday, June 3, from 2-5 p.m. at Market Square (301 King Street).
“Collect Pride swag, enjoy music and food, make some art and get your face painted, pose for a Pride pic, and learn about LGBTQ+ inclusive services in Alexandria,” the city’s website said. “Free and confidential health services and vaccines available.”
The kick-off starts with a story hour hosted by a drag queen at 2 p.m., followed by spoken word at 3 p.m. and an improv workshop at 4 p.m.
#Pride Month is almost here. #SavetheDate for the City's Pride kick-off event. Join us for the celebration and learn about Alexandria's LGBTQ+ inclusive services. All are welcome to attend!
Date: June 3
Time: 2-5 p.m.
Location: Market Square
Details: https://t.co/bnwydvTWh1 pic.twitter.com/AUaBL1ptqr
— AlexandriaVAGov (@AlexandriaVAGov) May 24, 2023
A word of caution to those attending: the event has already attracted some negative attention, with some on social media calling event organizers “groomers.” Earlier this year there was some violence at a similar story hour event in Silver Spring, when a far-right group tried to force their way into the bookstore that was hosting it.
Photo via Sophie Emeny/Unsplash