The pedestrian crossing with new rainbow colours between the traffic lights at the intersection of Dixon St and Cuba Mall will be officially opened today, 10 October, to coincide with the birthday of one of the city’s most iconic transgender activists, Carmen Rupe (1936-2011).
“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,” said Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.
“The project has the backing of local businesses, and is also supported by the LGBTQI community.”
In February, Melissa Toomey led an effort to mobilise Wellingtonians to back the idea of a rainbow crossing, garnering nearly 3,000 e-signatures, with the Council agreeing in March to to permanently install the crossing.
The Mayor says that the crossing is the first step in the city’s quest to become “more deliberately LGBTQI-friendly”. Further initiatives are expected to follow from the WCC’s first Rainbow Hui, which brought the city’s LGBTQI groups together in August to discuss common issues that impacted the various sectors of the community.
“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,” said the Mayor.
The controlled rainbow crossing means that people will be able to use it only when the pedestrian lights turn green. The crossing lights show a green silhouette of Carmen; one of four intersections in Cuba Street that had these lights installed in 2016.
A marked sign shows the safest place for people to take selfies from, and share on social media under the hashtag #wellyrainbow.
The formal launch and unveiling starts today at 4.00pm, with a best-dressed competition, free food and more.
The party will continue down Cuba Street at R18 venue Ivy, which will open its doors early at 4:30pm to party after the official opening of the crossing, and launch its new Rainbow Cocktail menu.
From 6.00pm, Sam from The Edge and Mx Capital Drag Kelly Fornia will host a Drag Bingo, with karaoke from 9.00pm.