SAN ANTONIO – Brightly colored and impossible to miss, the four new rainbow crosswalks in San Antonio's gay business district scream “pride.”
“It feels, like, safe now. It feels like a safe space,” said Gabriel Martinez, a Main Avenue strip regular. “I mean, I know it has been, and this kind of just cements it, gives us that, like, acknowledgement. You know, we’re here.”
Installed Wednesday at the intersection of North Main Avenue and East Evergreen Street, the sidewalks are in place just in time for the San Antonio Pride Parade on Saturday. The location is at the heart of the gay business district and the Main Avenue strip, which holds a special place in the city’s LGBTQ community.
“This is home to me,” Martinez said.”This is where I started going out, you know, when I was 18 years old, coming here. And, you know, my uncle, who lives in California now, used to come all the time, so this is home to me.”
The new sidewalks let everyone know.
“It's pride. It's, like, anyone who comes, tourist or anything, they'll know, ‘OK, this is where I need to be. This is where I'll feel safe.’” said Jessica Hernandez, Martinez’s friend.
The same crosswalks were decorated in rainbow colors ahead of last year’s Pride Parade, but only in chalk. When the parade rolls past on Saturday night, it will be over durable thermoplastic.
In June 2017, District 1 Councilman Roberto Trevino requested that the City Council consider installing a “Pride-themed rainbow crosswalk” at the intersection. About a year later, the council approved a deal to allow four of them.
The project is a product of public and private money. The total cost of $32,500 is split between the city, which put up $12,669, and private funds from Pride San Antonio, which put up $19,832.
“So we are paying the portion that we would have to do legally as a crosswalk, but the portion that is part of the artistic interpretation as the rainbow, it was all privately funded,” Trevino said.
Trevino’s office said a total of about $24,500 was raised in private funds. About $10,500 of that came from Rainbow Crosswalk Fiesta medals designed by Trevino.
“Of course, we had to have it,” said Michelle Quiroz about the medals, as she visited the intersection Wednesday during her lunch break. “That, we felt, like was part of history, and then, now just coming to watch it be done is definitely a part of history and I had to get a picture and a selfie.”
It isn’t clear yet if the rainbow crosswalks are at the intersection for good. They are part of a pilot program to monitor things such as maintenance and how drivers and pedestrians react to the artistic crosswalks.
At the end of the program, the Transportation and Capital Improvements Department will report its findings to the City Council Transportation Committee.