TWO years after the chalking of the first rainbow crossing on a back street in inner city Sydney, the founder of DIY Rainbow still believes the movement will remain relevant so long as countries around the world continue to ban homosexuality.
Talking to the Star Observer to mark DIY Rainbow Day, which took place on the weekend, James Brechney said the movement was inspired by the NSW Government’s April 2013 removal of a temporary rainbow pedestrian crossing painted across Sydney’s Oxford St despite pleas by Mardi Gras and local politicians for it to remain in place.
“It’s so weird that that the one that we did in Surry Hills with a couple of friends was the first one ever done for gay rights.”
People began chalking rainbow crossings across Australia and as far as the US and Asia while some 58,000 people became fans on the Facebook page.
Brechney, who is now a Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras board member and radio broadcaster, said the rainbow crossing that struck him the most was outside the John Lennon memorial in New York and he thought the Beatles singer “would have loved it”.
He also pointed to a rainbow created by 40 children living with HIV in Cambodia and one by a girl who simply called herself “Angel”.
“She talked about how she used to be teased, then she chalked a rainbow and told everyone she is a lesbian and they love her now,” he said.
DIY Rainbow Day was held on the second anniversary of the movement.
Events kicked off on Friday with the creation of a giant chalk – inspired by the Star Observer’s April Fools prank – beside the original crossing at Taylor Square.
More crossings were set to have to appeared across Australia’s capital cities and abroad.
However, given the original rainbow crossing was removed two years ago now, what is DIY Rainbow’s aim and how do you judge its success?
“When something goes viral you can choose whether you want to continue it or just let it die so for me that’s the hard work, getting everyone energised,” Brechney said.
“We really thought about what we were going to do with the movement and it’s not unimportant to continue because in 78 countries it’s still illegal to be gay.
“Success is one email from one person saying they participated in one, got to know their neighbour and being gay or lesbian is totally fine.”
Brechney disagreed when asked if some people only chalking rainbows, and not taking part in other campaigning methods, might be engaging in “slacktivism”.
“It could be if it was a change.org survey when you’re just sitting on your butt but what you’ve actually got to do is get off your butt, chalk a rainbow take the photo and submit it to the page,” he said.
“Compare my movement to Australian Marriage Equality. Have they got a result I haven’t got? I don’t know.
“Do we just want lobbyists in Canberra or do we also want, complementing that, people out there making visual statements about who we are and where we want to go?”
Despite his profile within the organisation, Brechney said DIY Rainbow was “bigger than me”.
“For any movement to continue you need to promote it and I’m a very good promoter and I understand that in terms of people thinking [I’m] using it for my own advantage but I don’t care and I think it’s an awesome fucking movement,” he said.
“The fans on the [Facebook] page want me to promote it and to continue it because it’s great.”
Brechney said he hoped, like Wear It Purple Day, chalking rainbows could become an annual event.