You’re allowed to drive over these works of art, although you may be tempted to stop your car and take a selfie.
Busy intersections in Delray Beach and Boynton Beach have been painted with dazzling rainbow colors in honor of Pride Month, an international celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Delray Beach’s eye-popping intersection is at Northeast Second Avenue and Northeast First Street; Boynton Beach’s new streetscape is at the intersection of East Ocean Avenue and First Street Southeast.
“We are showing that we welcome you, whoever you are,” Boynton Beach Mayor Steven Grant said.
Grant, who said the project cost $10,000, said he has fielded only one complaint about the intersection, as did Ryan Boylston, vice mayor of Delray Beach. Some social media posts have also been critical, saying the crosswalks are tacky, traffic hazards and a bad use of money.
The painting projects come at the same time some say Gov. Ron DeSantis has “declared war” on Florida’s LGBT community. DeSantis vetoed $150,000 in the state budget that would have gone to counseling survivors of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub, an Orlando LGBTQ social venue, as well as $750,000 approved by the Florida Legislature for housing for homeless gay and transgender youth. DeSantis also signed a law that bans transgender women from women’s sports.
In the midst of the turmoil, brightly colored murals, bridges and crosswalks are being painted across the state. In Delray Beach and Boynton Beach, the streetscapes include not only the traditional six rainbow colors associated with the LGBTQ flag (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet). The intersections have five more colors: black and brown, to represent people of color; and light blue, pink and white, to honor trans and non-binary individuals and those living with HIV/AIDS.
In Florida, the rainbow intersection concept originated in St. Petersburg, where the convergence of Central Avenue and 25th Street has been painted since July 2020, said Jim Nixon, St. Pete’s LGBTQ liaison in the mayor’s office. He said he has been fielding calls from throughout the state from communities that also want to paint their streets. But he said only Delray Beach and Boynton Beach have decorated intersections so far; Key West and Orlando have painted crosswalks, he said, while other cities, such as Wilton Manors, have painted bridges.
The bridge in Wilton Manors was the brainchild of the late Mayor Justin Flippen, who died unexpectedly in February 2020. Flippen envisioned the bridge as a gateway to the city, which ranks second in the United States in percentage of gay couples. The city finished the project a few months ago, in time for its annual Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival on June 19.
“Justin knew the importance of this location as it is the window to the central business district and Arts and Entertainment District of Wilton Manors and the important connection it serves between the city of Wilton Manors and the city of Fort Lauderdale,” said Claudia Castillo, a Wilton Manors artist who helped coordinate the project. “It was intended to be an icon for the city to celebrate its cultural diversity and inclusion for all people.”
Bridge decorations have proven controversial in other parts of Florida. The Florida Department of Transportation ordered at least two cities to take down their multi-colored bridge lights over the past few days. The state told Jacksonville the rainbow-lit Acosta Bridge did not comply with permits, although officials rescinded the order on Wednesday and the lights came back on. The state also denied Sarasota permission to light the John Ringling Causeway Bridge this month with rainbow lights.
Boylston said Delray Beach got around having to get state permission by decorating an intersection owned by the city. He said the project cost about $10,000, paid for by donors.
Rand Hoch, president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, said he is thrilled that several cities were enthusiastic about rainbow-painting their streets, a concept the council has been encouraging as members meet with city officials to discuss laws and legislation. He said Palm Beach County also wanted to participate; drivers may notice a colorful bus operated by Palm Tran, the public transit system, that says “Ride With Pride” as it picks up passengers around the county.
“It will be on a variety of routes and will be on for the month of June and maybe a little beyond that,” Palm Tran spokesman Joseph Harrington said. “We hope to do a different Pride bus every June.”