Robert Sepuveda Jr."s rainbow crosswalks closer to reality?

Non-profit hopes their public art project will encourage inclusivity

Interior designer Robert Sepúlveda Jr. moved from New York City to Atlanta only two years ago, but he's already trying to leave his footprint in the city. After seeing other cities' rainbow crosswalks — including Chicago, San Francisco, and West Hollywood — Sepúlveda didn't understand why Atlanta didn't have them. After all, Atlanta has a significant LGBT population.

"Atlanta being so diverse and Midtown being the epicenter for the LGBT community, I kept thinking this doesn't make sense," Sepúlveda says. "Why hasn't anybody tried to do this yet? That was really my inspiration. Knowing that the community would appreciate it and knowing that the LGBT population of Atlanta is so big, I thought it would be appropriate. "

In August 2014, Sepúlveda submitted a proposal about adding four rainbow crosswalks to the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue to the City of Atlanta in hopes of having up and running by the upcoming Pride weekend. However, the usual red tape and permits squandered those plans. Despite delays with paperwork, the Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks seemed to be well received in the nearby community and by the city itself.

"The community as a whole and the City of Atlanta has been completely responsive," Sepúlveda says.

While most of the feedback the project has received has been supportive and positive, certain online commentators don't feel as supportive of the public art project.

"Lately with all of the press, I've gone back and read some of the links and what people have said," Sepúlveda says. "Some of the things that I am seeing are more narrow-minded comments. But, [the rainbow flag] was always meant to be inclusive, not exclusive. It's never been a symbol of superiority."

The rainbow crosswalks will be painted with colorful resin stripes in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple — the same colors as the rainbow flag. "The rainbow flag itself is a symbol of diversity," Sepúlveda says.

The city will not be funding this project; it will be completely funded with donations from local citizens and corporations. Sepúlveda also hopes this project helps grow other initiatives and awareness within the community as well.

"We're not just painting the crosswalks, we're going to try to build a foundation around them that will help with community outreach," he says. "Your money is going directly to a public arts project and the mission of it is to advance the awareness of diversity and equality through public art and community outreach. It's not just graffiti on the ground."

While the Urban Design Commission meeting was supposed to take place last week, it was postponed until this Wed., Aug. 12, at 4 p.m., due to lack of quorum. If the design is approved, Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks hopes to raise the donations necessary to paint the sidewalks before Pride weekend 2015.

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