Guelph Opens New Rainbow Crosswalk Ahead of Pride Month

It was blue skies and rainbow cookies on Thursday morning as City of Guelph staff and officials took a ceremonial first walk across the street on the City’s first, official rainbow crosswalk. Just days ahead of the annual Pride months festivities, City crews spent the night on Wednesday laying down the (technically) thermoplastic material in the colourful symbol of inclusivity and welcome for all members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I think it’s great that we were able to pull it together, and that so many people in the city  got involved. It just shows that Guelph is a great, inclusive place to be, and while there’s a lot more work that can be done, this is the first step forward,” said Cam Grant, one of the community organizers who helped make the crosswalk happen.

Now technically, this is not the first rainbow crosswalk in Guelph. Stone Road Mall revealed a crosswalk from one of the mall entrances to the parking lot last year, but this is the first on public City property. The crosswalk is located at the intersection of Gordon/Norfolk and Wilson/Waterloo.

“I’m so excited that we finally have a rainbow crosswalk. I literally want to strut across this thing all day, but my daughter does have to go to school so I’m gonna have to cut it shorter than I’d really like to celebrate,” said Ward 1 Councillor Erin Caton, the first non-binary member of Guelph city council.

“I think it shows that a lot of people are really progressive and accepting and inclusive in Guelph, and that’s the place that I wanted to move to with my daughter. It’s kind of a symbol that I made the right choice,” they added.

Getting to Thursday morning did not come without controversy. The City of Guelph two weeks ago had to briefly set their Twitter account to private as they removed homophobic and transphobic statements in response to a post promoting a Have Your Say engagement about the crosswalk. Members of council where also inundated last week after promoting statements of support on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia or else deactivated their responses.

Back in real life, Grant said that that crosswalk was a vindication for Guelph’s queer community and a message that they’re not going anywhere. “They can say what they want on Twitter, but this still happened, they didn’t stop it from happening,” Grant said.

“There’s always people who are going to hate on whatever you do but you can’t let them stop you because if we did  things like this wouldn’t happen. We can’t let other people bring us down, so this is a ‘we’re here, we’re queer, deal with it’ kind of thing,” Grant added. “People are always going to find ways to try and drag you down, and it’s just that they’re not happy with their lives, and that sucks for them, but it doesn’t affect me.”

In terms of what happens next, Grant said that promoting inclusivity and queer identity is about more than painting crosswalks. “We need to work with the City to find new programs and find new sources of funding for other other queer initiatives and things like that.”

See the video of the ceremonial first crossing below:

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