- Shelia M. Poole The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta musician and LGBTQ advocate Sarah Rose wants Midtown to show its pride.
Rose, the LGBTQ issues advocate for Care2, is spearheading an effort to get the city to permanently paint at least one Midtown crosswalk the colors of the rainbow or transgender flags. So far, a petition that was launched earlier this month has collected more than 12,000 signatures.
Her goal is 13,000. Care2 is a site that helps local organizers, campaigners and others start petitions about things they care about and changes they want to see.
Rose, who is transgender, remembers when the city painted the crosswalks at 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue in the colors of the rainbow flag during the Atlanta Pride event in 2015. The rainbow flag is a commonly accepted symbol of pride for the gay community.
“I remember how much excitement and enthusiasm existed in our community” when the crosswalk was painted, said Rose, who is also a singer and guitarist in the band Sarah and the Safe Word. “Making it a permanent installation would be a gesture really affirming what the LGBTQ community contributes and means to the city. There are lots of different people in the city who want to show solidarity with our community.”
The colors of the transgender pride flag are pink, blue and white.
The petition says the area is the “epicenter” of Atlanta’s LGBTQ district — and the surrounding area is a huge gathering place each year for Pride.”
The city, citing concerns about safety and state regulations, removed the rainbow colors after the Pride event ended.
As in 2015, the city cited public safety reasons for determining when to display the rainbow crosswalks.
Kyle Gohn, the manager of the Flying Biscuit Cafe on Piedmont Avenue, thinks a permanent installation is a good idea.
“I think they should have kept it in the first place,” he said. “I heard at the time it was too costly to keep painting it and the removal appeared more costly. … It didn’t make any sense to me. This neighborhood is very proud of that culture.”
Rose said she hasn’t presented the city with the petition yet. While she would like to see all four crosswalks painted in the rainbow or transgender colors, she would be happy if the city just designated one.
Based on the number of signatures she’s gotten, she said, “there’s certainly an interest.”
“I’m humbled that there have been this many signatures,” Rose said. “It’s exceeded my expectation.”
Rose calls the effort “my way to give back” to a city that “has given me so much.”
So far, she hasn’t received any pushback.
“It’s just paint on the street,” she said, “which is pretty harmless.”
The annual Atlanta Pride Festival is scheduled for Oct.13-15.
Robert Sepulveda Jr., a former Atlanta resident who spearheaded the initial effort to paint the crosswalks and raised funds, supports any effort to have a permanent rainbow crosswalk.
He said he would even help.
“I wish her luck,” he said of Rose. The two have not talked. “I wish it were as easy as putting a petition together. It’s a lot harder. I hope she realizes that. If she needs my help, I’m here to help.”View full experience