I hope you’re all having a fabulous Pride month, though it’s likely a virtual celebration for most of you. Earlier this month, I was able to “get my inner Pride on” and venture out to attend a very special celebration for our LGBTQ community and its allies.

Key West rainbow crosswalks

A man walks a dog as Paul Cassidy, right, a Key West Public Works foreman, uses a propane torch to embed thermoplastic strips representing the rainbow flag into asphalt in Key West. (Photo by Rob O’Neal, Florida Keys News Bureau)

On Monday, June 15, Key West city workers installed four permanent rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of Duval and Petronia streets in the heart of the island’s LGBTQ entertainment district (affectionately nicknamed the Pink Triangle).

Rainbow crosswalks were originally installed on Duval Street in 2015, and quickly become a city landmark and popular selfie stop. Their replacement was necessitated by a repaving project for Duval — and also allowed for a brilliant redesign that makes the rainbow colors stand out WAY more vividly against the asphalt than the previous version.

The new and improved rainbow sidewalks span all four corners of the intersection and proudly feature long bands of all six colors of the rainbow flag.

Spearheaded by the city and the Key West Business Guild, the crosswalks are composed of pre-formed thermoplastic color stripes. After the stripes were laid on the street by city workers, they were heat-treated with propane torches to affix the colors on the pavement permanently.

Following the crosswalks’ ribbon-cutting ceremony, I met with our mayor, Teri Johnston, and got the 411 on Key West’s colorful addition to our city streets. BTW, not only is Mayor Johnston the first openly gay woman elected mayor of a major Florida city, but she has been doing an incredible job.

Keys Voices: What is the significance of the rainbow crosswalks being installed in Key West?

Mayor Johnston: This is the first time we’ve paved Duval in 44 years, so to reinstall our rainbow crosswalks is very monumental. They’re an important architectural feature of our street, and important to our community and our philosophy, so it was really important to us to get them back up as quickly as possible.

Key West Mayor Teri Johnston

Key West Mayor Teri Johnston presided over the ribbon cutting for the rainbow crosswalks and is passionate about their importance to the city.

KV: What do the rainbow crosswalks say about the vibe of the street?

MJ: Duval Street is such a loving, welcoming, inclusive street. This is the message here of the street: that we are all-welcoming, we are all-inclusive, and we really do abide by our “One Human Family” spirit.

KV: What do you hope people realize or understand after seeing the crosswalks on Key West’s leading visitor street?

MJ: The rainbow crosswalks, to us in the city of Key West, mean that everybody is welcome, everybody is equal, everybody is recognized and — once again — that we do really abide by the “One Human Family” spirit. We are all part of this city of Key West, which is so inclusive.

KV: Can you tell our readers a little bit about Key West’s overall embrace of diversity that the rainbow crosswalks symbolize?

MJ: As far as diversity is concerned, it’s one of the major issues that drew my partner and me to Key West over 20 years ago. We had traveled to a number of different areas. We got to Key West, and there was just a different vibe. And that vibe is that everyone’s important, everyone matters, and everyone is part of our community — and that’s how we welcome people into our community also. So that’s why the rainbow crosswalks are so important to all of us in the city of Key West. And hopefully, they will be as important to every visitor that we welcome into Key West in the future.

In Key West, we don’t just celebrate Pride in June, but all year long. I hope our permanent rainbow sidewalks will be a beautiful reminder of that. And I hope you, too, can gayly stroll over our street-side rainbows on your next visit to our all-welcoming island city.

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