Wellington’s Rainbow Crossing will soon become a reality, with the controlled crossing to be officially opened on 10 October to coincide with the birthday of one of the city’s most iconic transgender activists, Carmen Rupe (1936-2011).
The crossing will be installed between the traffic lights at the intersection of Dixon St and Cuba Mall says Mayor Justin Lester.
“Cuba Street is considered by many to be the spiritual home of Wellington’s pride movement and a rainbow crossing sends a clear, strong, and very public message that Wellington is a city that is tolerant, inclusive and welcoming.”
“The desire for the crossing on Cuba Street has been a recurring piece of feedback from the community, both formally and informally.”
“The project has the backing of local businesses, and is also supported by the LGBTQI community,” he adds.
In February, young Wellington woman Melissa Toomey led an effort to mobilise Wellingtonians to back the idea of a rainbow crossing, garnering nearly 3,000 e-signatures.
In March this year, the Mayor announced that a rainbow crossing would be permanently installed on Cuba Street.
In August, the Wellington City Council held its first-ever Rainbow Hui, bringing together the city’s LGBTQI groups to discuss common issues that impacted the various sects of the community.
The Mayor says that the crossing is just step one in the city’s quest to become “more deliberately LGBTQI-friendly.”
“What we are also hearing from the community is that there is a pressing need for a range of initiatives around safe spaces and access to services in the central city, so we will be looking to work with the community, central city businesses and hospitality to make that a reality.”
The crossing is one of four Cuba Street intersections where in 2016, pedestrian crossing lights were adapted to show a green silhouette of Carmen.
Weather-permitting, painting will begin on 6 October and work will proceed over the weekend. Traffic management plans will be in place.
There will be a marked sign at Cuba Street to denote the safest place for people to take selfies from, and share on social media under the hashtag #wellyrainbow.
The controlled crossing means that people will be able to cross only when the pedestrian lights turn green.