Just in time for Pride Weekend in Maplewood, the intersection at Valley St. and Oakview Rd. got a permanent upgrade with painted rainbow stripes.
The idea for the LGBTQ Pride rainbow crosswalk came from Maplewood Township Committeeman Dean Dafis, who is the town’s first openly LGBTQ Committee member.
Speaking to local website Out in Jersey, Dafis said, “We wanted to do something that would serve as a permanent marker or symbol of our commitment to inclusion,” adding, “We wanted it to be something you can encounter every day. We wanted our youth in particular — perhaps those struggling to find their way, those in need of empowerment and affirmation — to proudly cross or walk over their fear and self doubt.”
The stripes, which are next to Maplewood’s Town Hall and at the central entrance to Memorial Park, were officially unveiled and dedicated on Thursday, June 7, with a celebration that featured music, dancing, balloons, and plenty of selfies taken with the brightly painted strips of walkway.
Residents took to Twitter to (mostly) celebrate the new crosswalks. Richard Marks (@zip2rich) posted, “It’s the simple, but profound things. Love my town. Maplewood, NJ … Rainbow Crosswalks speaks to who I am, and want to live up to every day. inclusion is an attitude. Make it yours. #OneHumanRace.”
Rabbi Jesse Olitzki of Congregation Beth El in South Orange tweeted, “Maplewood becomes the first town in NJ to permanently feature rainbow crosswalks to celebrate diversity and inclusion. In case I haven’t told you lately, #ILoveWhereILive #LGBTQ #Pride.”
Some other posters questioned the use of taxpayer dollars for the project or the potential to distract drivers, but they were thoroughly outnumbered by tweets expressing support, love, and even a little envy: “This is amazing. Why can’t we do this in nyc?” asked @missDTM.
Maplewood joins communities in Philadelphia and San Francisco that have put similar permanent markers of LGBTQ Pride in local crosswalks.
What do you think of Maplewood’s Pride stripes? Would you like to see a rainbow crosswalk in Montclair or Bloomfield?
Photos by Brady McNamara