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How Crowdsourced Rainbows Are Fighting Back Against Homophobia

How people around the world are transforming sidewalks into rainbows to show solidarity for Sydney's gay community.

Rainbows are popping up on streets and sidewalks all over the world, thanks to the recent demolition of one in Sydney, Australia's historic gay district. In February, a sidewalk crossing was painted in rainbow colors as an homage to 35 years of Sydney's Mardi Gras and a goodwill gesture to the city's gay and lesbian community. It was the same site where lesbians and gay men were beaten in 1978, and homophobic violence was rife for years.

The colorful road became an immediate tourist attraction drawing hundreds, but resulting in safety concerns from the city. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, an audit commissioned by the City of Sydney reported people getting drunk and sprawling out on the crossing. But the audit also said any safety risk could be managed by night police or council warden presence.

Gay activists were outraged and saw the crossing's removal—at the cost of $30,000 in taxpayer dollars—as an attack on their community. To protest, people all across the city and beyond decided to create their own rainbow walkways colored in chalk. Sydney resident James Breko Brechney created the DIY Rainbow Crossings Facebook page where anyone can upload their own images of #DIYrainbows. "Don't get angry, get chalking!" he encourages.

The page has only been up for five days and already has nearly 17,000 likes, with countless photos submitted. People are using the page to mobilize collective "chalk interventions" all over: "Anyone in Sydney up for some Friday night DIY rainbowing in King Street Newtown?????? 6pm at the front of the railway station?" reads one call to action. Perhaps the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is that people who didn't know each other before are now creating colorful installations together to show their pride.

Images via Facebook

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