The Transgender Advisory Board on Wednesday sent their approval to City Council for plans that would transform the traditional, six-hued rainbow flag on the crosswalks at the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and San Vicente into the twelve-colored Progress Pride Flag, which celebrates not only LGBTQ people but transgender people, marginalized people of color and those who’ve been affected by HIV/AIDS.
The project will cost around $85,000. The City of West Hollywood is currently projecting a budget deficit of 10 million dollars for the current fiscal year.
THE FIRST PRIDE FLAG
The rainbows on the crosswalks currently have six colors — red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple — the same as the original pride flag. The familiar rainbow design was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978 and was debuted to the world at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade that year.
The pride flag was designed to be a symbol of happiness and hope. Baker said he chose the rainbow because it was already a popular motif with the hippie movement, but it also alludes to The Wizard of Oz song “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” performed by one of the world’s first gay icons, Judy Garland.
Over the next two decades, the rainbow flag grew in popularity and familiarity, but it wasn’t until West Hollywood resident John Stout successfully sued his landlords to allow him to fly the flag from his apartment balcony that it became a universally recognized symbol of LGBT culture.
THE TRANSGENDER FLAG
In 1999, trans artist Monica Helms created a flag especially for the transgendered community — the Transgender Pride Flag, which made its debut at a pride parade in Phoenix in 2000.
The trans flag is markedly different from the pride flag, containing only three colors: white, pink and light blue. Helms described it as thus:
“The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional color for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional color for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender.”
THE PROGRESS PRIDE FLAG
In June 2018, designer Daniel Quasar combined the original rainbow flag with the Transgender Pride Flag, plus stripes of black and brown (representing people of color), and the Progress Pride Flag was born.
The Progress Pride Flag brought focus on inclusion and progress within the LGBTQ+ community, and was an immediate hit on social media worldwide. The design adds an arrow in pink, white, light blue, brown and black aiming from the left forward against the backdrop of the original six colors.
THE RAINBOW CROSSWALKS
West Hollywood’s beloved rainbow crosswalks were permanently installed over existing red-brick crosswalks on Santa Monica Blvd. and San Vicente in 2012. They immediately became an enchanting entrance way into West Hollywood, an emblem of West Hollywood’s creative, colorful identity, and a tribute to WeHo’s history as an early bastion of tolerance and acceptance for LGBTQ people.
The Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board discussed potential logistical issues that could arise from the addition of pastel colors (white, light blue and pink), as well as the wear-and-tear factor of putting them on crosswalks spanning Santa Monica Blvd., which sees between 40,219 and 47,174 vehicles per day.
The City of West Hollywood has been one of the most outspoken cities in the nation in advocating for the legal rights of LGBTQ people. More than 40 percent of residents in the City of West Hollywood identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
The City of West Hollywood is one of the first municipalities to form a Transgender Advisory Board, which addresses matters of advocacy on behalf of transgender people in the areas of education, community awareness, and empowerment, and makes recommendations to the West Hollywood City Council.