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October 15, 2018 | by  | in News |
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New Zealand’s First Rainbow Crossing is Here (and Queer)

Wellington’s new rainbow pedestrian crossing, at the intersection of Cuba and Dixon street, was unveiled in a ceremony last Wednesday. Hundreds of Wellingtonians came out for the launch event, which featured drag performances, rainbow popcorn, and an abundance of glitter.
Prompted by a petition with nearly 3000 signatures in February, planning for the crossing started earlier this year.
The Wellington City Council urban design team consulted with local LGBTQIA+ leaders in August to plan the crossing, along with future queer-focused projects. The council hopes the crossing will make Cuba Street “a more visibly rainbow-friendly precinct”.
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester cut the rainbow ribbon to officially open the crossing. He was confident that it would become a “permanent symbol” of Wellington’s commitment to inclusivity. “We’re inclusive, we’re diverse, we celebrate diversity, and we’re a very tolerant place.”
The opening ceremony also marked the birthday of transgender icon Carmen Rupe, who would have been 82. Carmen’s International Coffee Lounge and the Balcony strip club were pioneering queer spaces in Wellington, and InsideOut national coordinator Tabby Besley hoped that the crossing would inspire a variety of queer venues.

“The community said loud and clear that we want a physical space, a community centre, we wanna bring back the times when Carmen and her friends had a cafe and those kinds of things, a space where we can meet that isn’t just fuelled around alcohol.”
The opening of the crossing comes ahead of the 40th International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) World Conference, which will be held in Wellington in March next year.

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