Sacramento’s historic LGBT community to be decorated with rainbow crosswalks
On May 12, Sacramento City Council approved the addition of rainbow crosswalks to the block of 20th and K streets in Sacramento’s Midtown Lavender Heights neighborhood. Similar to the crosswalks in San Francisco’s Castro District, West Hollywood and Boystown Chicago, the crosswalks in Sacramento will represent the history of the LGBT community in the area.
Paul Weubbe, president of the board of directors for the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce (SRCC), explains that adding the crosswalks will help the area be officially labeled as Lavender Heights. He states that although Lavender Heights has been a nickname of the area for years, there have been serious efforts to officially name it as a neighborhood within the Midtown area.
Bonnie Osborn, board president for the SRCC, adds that nearby neighborhoods, such as Mansion Flats and the Handle District of Sacramento have made similar efforts to officially label their neighborhoods. Osborn explains that although there have been similar efforts in the past, there is now enough community support to see the project through.
“It’s really symbolic of the history of the LGBT community in Sacramento and it’s a way [to reach]out to people to tell a little bit about our history,” Osborn said.
The project is estimated to cost about $30,000 and is being funded by private donations. So far, almost a third of the funds have been raised.
“You really can’t look at it as a cost; you have to look at it as an investment. This is something that is going to help give the neighborhood some cohesion and character and will hopefully serve, as it has in other areas, as a signal to bring new business down to the area,” said Donald Bentz, executive director of the Sacramento LGBT Community Center.
Locals in the area were polled to ensure that they supported the addition of rainbow crosswalks to Lavender Heights.
“We did a written survey, took a poll and actually had over 450 positive responses that were in favor,” Weubbe said.
Weubbe said that no residents responded negatively to the poll and the only concern was whether the crosswalks would increase vehicular traffic. Overall, Weubbe believes they received a lot of good feedback from the poll.
Weubbe adds that the project has received endorsement from businesses in Lavender Heights, one of which is LowBrau Bierhall, co-owned by Clay Nutting.
“I think [this] is a great way to recognize the heritage of the region. When we were presented with the project we were in favor [of it] and said go for it. It’s just a great way to recognize the significance of the area,” Nutting said.
Bentz states that this is a great step forward for the LGBT community in Sacramento. Although funds for the project are still being raised, the project for the new crosswalks is well on its way, having passed the first step of approval by the city council.
“It’s going to cement into place the LGBT influences for this area,” Bentz said. “It will also create a very visible signal that everyone is welcome in this district and that LGBT people do have a place where they can go where they can feel safe, needed and welcome.”
Graphic by Jennifer Wu.