Orange County

Rainbow crosswalk in downtown Carrboro celebrates LGBTQ pride

A crosswalk in Carrboro was recently painted in rainbow colors.
A crosswalk in Carrboro was recently painted in rainbow colors.

A small but colorful change was made to a crosswalk in Carrboro last week.

The town added the colors of the rainbow to the crosswalk on Weaver Street near the Weaver Street Market natural foods coop.

Carrboro joined the ranks of communities across the country recognizing LGBTQ residents, becoming what is thought to be the first town in North Carolina with a rainbow crosswalk.

Some people crossing Weaver Street Tuesday afternoon noticed. Others did not.

Carrboro resident Bobby Mercadante said he recognized the change last week shortly after it was repainted.

"I think it's great," Mercadante said. "I like living in a community that is so supportive and welcoming to everybody."

Courtney Broxton, another Carrboro resident, said she noticed the bright colors after getting off the bus on the way to pick her child at daycare. She didn't realize the colors represented anything.

"I just thought it was colorful," Broxton said. "It brightens up Carrboro."

Eight months ago, Carrboro's Board of Aldermen decided the town needed a rainbow crosswalk.

The rainbow design supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, continuing the town’s history of advocacy for LGBT people. Carrboro elected the state’s first openly gay and lesbian mayors in 1995 and 2013 respectively, and in 1994 was the first municipality to create a registry for domestic partners.

Alderman Damon Seils said it took time for the town's transportation department to research and find the best paint for the job. He liked that it was completed in June, which is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. Carrboro's crosswalk also has brown and black stripes to include people of color, mimicking the design recently adopted by the city of Philadelphia.

Damon Seils

"It came on the heels of Pride Month," Seils said. "I'm proud of the board for selecting the Philadelphia flag style for us to use."

West Hollywood, California, was the first city to have rainbow crosswalks when one was painted in 2012. Since then, numerous cities have followed suit, including Key West, Florida, and Seattle, Washington. Philadelphia and San Francisco also were among the early adopters. Atlanta and Washington D.C. joined after petitions drew enough support for the cities to act. In North Carolina, a petition in Asheville drew more than 11,000 signatures but has yet to yield a rainbow crosswalk.

Chapel Hill began a colorful crosswalk program last year, featuring designs created by local artists. So far, no rainbows.

Crosswalks most likely to receive the custom paint treatments are on town-maintained roads. Carrboro Town Planner Tina Moon told the board last October the N.C. Department of Transportation would not likely accept alternative crosswalk designs on state roads without additional review and approval.

The Board of Aldermen then voted unanimously to approve the repainting of a mid-block crossing on East Main Street in the heart of the downtown business district.