What we can do to actually help LGBTQ youth in our community
This week, Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT director ~*~Scott Kubly~*~ celebrated Pride Month / the upcoming Pride Weekend festivities by rolling out a really beautiful new addition to Capitol Hill: Pretty rainbow crosswalks.
^^Photo via SDOT.
The crosswalks aren’t permanent — the paint is expected to fade over three-ish years — but SDOT says they will maintain them longer than that.
“It says something about this neighborhood, it says something about Seattle,” Murray said at the unveiling. “This is a city of very diverse neighborhoods throughout, with character and obviously an opportunity to celebrate pride nationally.”
The gesture is inclusive and attractive and definitely getting Murray some national attention (which you know he’s all about; the man has been very into gestures of late), but they’re also…giving us some emotions.
Capitol Hill, a long-time gay neighborhood, has become decidedly less safe-feeling for LGBTQ individuals after a rash of gay- and trans-bashings, not to mention an influx of less-than-affordable housing.
Additionally, Seattle has a real problem with homelessness, especially among LGBTQ youth. About half of the population of our youth homeless shelters are LGBTQ kids.
The sidewalks, which are, yes, a piece of public art (though they were funded through transportation dollars, not, say, 4Culture dollars, and, as Murray was VERY quick to point out, the crosswalks needed some work anyway) will, once finished, cost an estimated $100,000 or more $66,000 or maybe $100,000(?), depending on who you ask.
That’s so much money, you guys. Like really, really a lot of money.
This isn’t to say that we don’t appreciate public art. We do. And we believe in spending real money on art, especially art that is inclusive. Public art is essential and these crosswalks do send a message: This is still a neighborhood with its own culture and its own community and if you don’t like it, get the fuck out. If these sidewalks make you uncomfortable, maybe go literally anywhere else.
But what about sponsoring art programs for LGBTQ youth? What about including them in the process? What about only painting one corner and saving some of that money for other services or even other public art projects, possibly by members of the community?
What about the bus? What about additional safe rides programs?
So here is a proposal that will let us enjoy this cool moment but also actually do something tangible:
Every time you take a selfie with or photo of the rainbow sidewalks, consider making a small donation to one of the services that directly helps LGBTQ youth.
This way, we can, as a community, enjoy the public art and also come together to help those in need.
Here are a few places you could consider donating.
It’s been sitting on my hard drive for a while, so here’s a bunch of 32x32 derezzed Twitter avatars that I drew as practice/warm-ups In January. They were all done by eye, with just two of them where I overlaid it with the original to check proportions.