Fears that the Wollongong rainbow crossing, which debuted to a welcoming community on Christmas Eve last year, had been repeatedly vandalised in homophobic attacks have proven to be unfounded.
The false alarm is in fact a positive story after all, about resilience and the importance the Wollongong community has come to attach to the colourful addition to their beachfront view.
Deputy Lord Mayor, Tania Brown has been a longtime vocal supporter of the LGBTQI community in Wollongong and spearheaded the initiative herself, taking a Notice of Motion to council which received unanimous support from colleagues.
“It was gratifying following the marriage equality debate, to have Wollongong City Councillors unanimously vote to install a rainbow crossing in a high visibility location. I felt it was a healing gesture to our community but also a recognition to our LGBTQI community that we see them and embrace them as an important part of our community, and I know it was appreciated.”
The crossing was green lit in July 2019, painted on December 23, 2019 and welcomed to the community on Christmas Eve last year.
After the initial paint job wore away through general wear and tear and some tyre damage, in April the decision was made to start again using higher quality, longer lasting and easier to maintain paint and the brighter and much blingier crossing (there’s glitter in the actual paint – apparently it’s a sight to behold in the sunlight!) was relaunched a couple of weeks later.
Unfortunately, the vandals couldn’t resist the opportunity to leave their mark on such a colourful and attractive piece of public art – they came and left their tags in the form of rubber from burnouts barely 10 days later.
Fortunately though, this new version of the crossing is much more durable and the rubber has since been removed – the motoring enthusiasts who so generously donated their tyres to the cause seemed to be run of the mill hooligans (as evidenced by Facebook posts about the vandalism in the community at the time of the incident) rather than some homophobic hate crime mastermind wreaking havoc among the citizens of Wollongong- PHEW!!
Not just the LGBTQI community either.
Cr. Brown reports many different people have contacted her with their concern it had been taken down permanently when it was having it’s makeover.
Hopefully the Rainbow Committee Blue Mountains can take cheer from this news of community acceptance and affection for the rainbow crossing in Wollongong.
The Blue Mountains LGBTQI community started to put plans into place to get a similar symbol of hope and acceptance in a couple of their towns, though they have their sights set on a loftier and more ambitious plan – changing an existing standard pedestrian crossing and zshooshing it up with some rainbow pizzazz!