Pride Crosswalk Update

Council unanimously passes motion to consider rainbow crosswalks

Crosswalk imagining (rendering by Dustin White, courtesy Austin Pride)

It happened in seconds. Without objection, the motion was passed by Austin City Council to direct the City Manager to begin finding the means and method for installing rainbow crosswalks on Bettie Naylor Street, cementing the once-derelict Warehouse District’s center as Austin’s historic “gayborhood.”

As we wrote before, in preliminary meetings, several neighborhood businesses initially raised objections to the measure for various reasons, but as legal and safety concerns fell away, so did the objectors.

Peché has been the most vocal all along, both in initially detracting and in revising to a current position, stating on Facebook, “We always have been and always will be proud to be in a gay-friendly neighborhood. … If the legalities surrounding the rainbow crosswalks pass, we are 100% behind it. No question.” Truluck's backtracked after their initial rejection and bowed out of the discussion early in the process.

All that aside, the point of gestures like rainbow flags and rainbow crosswalks in what is known as a gay-friendly district, is certainly not to draw an exclusive queer clientele to the neighborhood, nor to alienate the straights. It’s a signal to the world that Austin wants to put forward a welcome mat of inclusivity and diversity.

Bettie Naylor, the Texas women’s- and LGBTQ-rights activist for whom the street was named, had little patience for those who decline to speak up for themselves, and her daughter clearly took that lesson to heart. “I reached out to the four businesses on the block who had objected to the move,” says Sharron Naylor. “I’ve always thought of Austin as one of the few places in this state that consistently held true to the ‘live and let live’ attitude that Texas takes pride in. I think my mom worked tirelessly to ensure that our community treats everyone with love and respect.”

Although Texas’ political climate remains hot and cloudy, Naylor is optimistic: “Almost everyone knows somebody who is LGBTQ now. We’ve already come further than even I could have imagined in this civil rights struggle, and I know my mother’s looking down with pride. I’m ecstatic about this resolution and what it says about our city.” As for electoral politics, she’s comfortable saying, ”I’m hopeful that we’ll see a more moderate side of Greg Abbott if he gets elected. What we’re seeing now, that’s just not the real Abbott, and who knows? With Rick Perry out of the picture, anything can happen.”

As far as the crosswalks go, once they pass through the hurdles ahead, they’ll be installed and maintained annually with private dollars through the Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation. Paul Huddleston, President of the foundation, says, “I’m confident and excited about making this happen. I’m not afraid to do some extra fundraising to keep this landmark move alive.” We’re excited too, and we’re keeping an extra stock of rainbow-colored chalk, just in case.

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Pride, rainbow crosswalks, Bettie Naylor, Sharron Naylor, gay district, acceptance, diversity, Austin Pride, Paul Huddleston

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