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Black, brown colors to be added to West Hollywood’s rainbow crosswalk

Rainbow crosswalks West Hollywood

West Hollywood added rainbow crosswalks in 2012 on Santa Monica Boulevard. Photo: City of West Hollywood.

A crosswalk the colors of the transgender flag will be painted in West Hollywood.

Also, brown and black stripes will be added to the rainbow crosswalks in the city.

The West Hollywood City Council approved the plans during Monday’s meeting. The item was approved unanimously as part of the council’s consent calendar, meaning it was done without discussion. Items on the consent calendar are generally non-controversial items that do not require much, if any, discussion. City officials group such items together under one heading and decide them at one time.

However, councilmembers did comment on the crosswalks later in the meeting.

“The reality is, during this pandemic, the mortality rate for black and brown lives is absolutely higher than every other person and it is incumbent upon us as the progressive city that we are to do everything that we can to recognize black and brown lives,” said Councilwoman Sepi Shyne.

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During public comment, several people phoned in to the virtual meeting and opposed adding the black and brown colors. One person said the rainbow flag is already all inclusive.

Another person said the city has more important issues to address, considering the coronavirus pandemic and the economic hardships residents and businesses face.

Other people supported adding the black and brown colors. One resident read a statement from Amber Hikes, a social justice activist who worked in the Philadelphia mayor’s office and added the black and brown stripes to the city’s rainbow flag in 2017.

“The symbols we use, the representations we highlight, matters. It matters to people who have not always seen themselves in West Hollywood,” the statement said.

“Updating your flag proclaims everything that black lives more than matter. You’re saying that queer black and brown representation is who we are, that black and brown trans lives are precious and ought to be celebrated, that centering the leadership and voices of those who are impacted is the only way we will arrive at collective liberation.”

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The city will select a crosswalk along Santa Monica Boulevard to be painted the pink, blue, and white colors of the transgender flag. A specific location has not been determined yet, but city staffers will make recommendations based on input from the Public Facilities Commission, the Transgender Advisory Board, and other boards.

The rainbow crosswalks at Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards will be updated with black and brown stripes.

In 2012, West Hollywood became the first city to have rainbow crosswalks on a permanent basis. Other cities such as Almere in the Netherlands, Toronto, and Chicago already have transgender flag crosswalks.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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