By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – It has become an annual tradition, Pride Month in Davis is celebrated with rainbow crosswalks. A few dozen volunteers with the Davis Phoenix Coalition painted them in place early on Sunday morning.
In a proclamation issued at the May 16 City Council meeting, the council proclaimed that “each June cities and towns throughout the United States, hold Pride celebrations to commemorate the beginning of the Stonewall Riots, affirm the diversity and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community and promote allyship and equal rights for all.”
It is an appropriate comment, because for the first time in Davis, there has been a small amount of pushback. A couple of protesters set up banners and signs as the volunteers painted the crosswalks.
Police Chief Darren Pytel noted, “There is no application process, or any formal process for that matter, for painting City owned/maintained crosswalks by an interested party without City sponsorship and collaboration. The rainbow crosswalks painted each year are a collaborative effort between the Phoenix Coalition and their volunteers, and the City of Davis. The City Council issues a Proclamation affirming the City’s involvement and the Police Department provides assistance and support as part of our regular community outreach efforts.”
In the proclamation, the council declared “the City of Davis shows its support of Pride month by working with the Davis Phoenix Coalition to color select crosswalks in the city for the month of June and by cosponsoring the annual Pride Festival, which will be held in Central Park on Sunday, June 4th.”
In an email to Pytel, Beth Bourne, who was among the protesters on Sunday noted, “We have a large group of concerned Davis parents and grandparents that would like to exercise our freedom of speech and assembly by being present when the crosswalks are being painted. If our public right-of-way is being painted (and traffic disrupted)…”
Only Bourne and another protester, however, showed up on Sunday.
Last week, however, there was an attempt to wash away a rainbow crosswalk painted by students at Birch Lane Elementary School. (The city later removed it altogether).
Members of the LGBTQ+ community told the Vanguard these incidents are having a detrimental effect on the broader community.
A few reactions included: “This honestly makes me feel a little scared. Being in Davis allowed us to be our true selves, and things are becoming more and more polarized. I hope it’s just a small minority of bigoted voices, but I think it’s a good idea for us to stay safe when we participate in pride.”
Another said, “We need to make concrete plans to stay safe.”
And another added, “I’m becoming increasingly concerned about safety at pride this year.”
While the protesters made it a point to note this wasn’t about hate, the impact of attempts to counterprotest and wash away rainbow crosswalks to an already vulnerable community seems to be having an outsized and perhaps unintended consequence.
As the council noted, “Pride month offers the community an opportunity to join in the national reflection of the work left to do to bring true equality to the LGBTQ+ community, while celebrating the work of individuals and organizations who have continuously fought to create equality for all.”
They added that “the City Council invites everyone to reflect on ways we all can live and work together with a commitment to protecting mutual respect and understanding, and to celebrate the diversity of our community during LGBTQ+ Pride Month.”