Doylestown Borough Council unanimously approved a rainbow crosswalk to be painted on Printers Alley near State Street in a 9-0 vote Monday after a hearing in which local residents made their voices heard on this important civic matter.
Doylestown Pride, which hosts the annual Pride Fest in the center of town, proposed the idea.
“The rainbow crosswalk will be a daily reminder that Doylestown is a community that is welcoming and inclusive to its residents and visitors,” said Doylestown Pride Chair Michael Kendrick (pronouns He/Him).
According to Doylestown Pride, “Funds raised as part of the ongoing Doylestown Pride Festival events will be used to pay for the materials, installation, and ongoing maintenance of the crosswalk; taxpayer dollars will not be used. More details about the crosswalk’s location and timing will be shared as soon as it’s available.”
The Pride crosswalk will be unveiled during Pride Week which takes place June 17-25. It will be a symbol that Doylestown is a welcoming place that stands with residents, businesses and visitors who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.
Public comment at the meeting was lively and at times, contentious, with both support and objections (some from people who don’t even live locally) concerning what such an addition to the borough would mean. Those who stood at the microphone and expressed their views were divided into two camps; one who wholeheartedly embraced the idea and one who objected, allegedly on historical, safety or aesthetic grounds.
One speaker who did not hide his intense disapproval, referred to himself as a “marginalized white male.” He made it clear that a pride crosswalk “doesn’t belong where I’m going to take my kids and my grandkids and have to explain to them what it’s all about.”
Brian Land, who described himself as a lifelong Bucks County resident whose shirt bore the words, “I identify as Non-Bidenary, FJB, Let’s Go Brandon,” stated that he loved Doylestown and loved to see “democracy in action here, but I have one word to say because I think most of the issues have been stated.” He then addressed the Council pointedly, “It might be an obscure location, but wait ‘til your first lawsuit when somebody gets hurt.”
The Council members assured those gathered that they had done their due diligence with regard to safety and legality of what was being proposed. Borough Manager John Davis stated that he had consulted the borough’s insurance company. The insurer said that the crosswalk wouldn’t raise the borough’s liability risk.
There is precedent for what Doylestown will be doing. Numerous cities have permanent rainbow crosswalks, including San Francisco, West Hollywood, Seattle, Key West, Miami Beach, and Philadelphia.
Don Berk, who served 12 years on Council and championed Doylestown’s anti-discrimination ordinance, offered that the crosswalk was “meant to show the LGBTQ community that we have their backs.” The adjunct professor at Delaware Valley University added, “I’ll be proud to walk on that crosswalk.”
James Lamb, the co-owner of Evolution Candy, which is located near where the crosswalk will be, is also proud of the decision.
“This small outward gesture that was proposed is not a bad idea and that is why we support it,” said Lamb. “I moved here because of the community being inclusive and supportive.”
The youth in the community made it clear that they wanted their voices to be heard and their position respected.
“I’ve said it before and will say it again, Pride is not political. I’ve said it so many times and it’s not that deep. It’s colors on a crosswalk,” said 14-year-old Rowan Hopwood.
He was followed by Zandi Hall, a student at CB West who showed up in support of the crosswalk.
“With the anti-LGBTQ+ policies being passed by the majority of the school board, many students feel unsupported and pushed into the closet,” said Hall. “These crosswalks will not only add some vibrancy to Doylestown, but also send a message that Doylestown is a place that loves and sees all people, especially their youth.”
Children’s musician and author Larissa Hopwood expressed that this crosswalk is, “Not a fad that comes and goes for one month a year. It is showing that we as a community are really behind everybody. We are behind inclusivity, and we are behind our friends and relatives who are in the queer community.”
“We’re beyond proud to celebrate the many diverse identities within our community and as we enter our fourth year, we hope this will serve as a wonderful year-round reminder that Doylestown embraces and uplifts the LGBTQ+ community from across the region,” said Kris Boger, President of Discover Doylestown and Chair of the Doylestown Pride Festival.
Mayor Noni West joined the official position, “The Borough is pleased to approve a rainbow crosswalk as a symbol of equity and inclusion in the heart of Doylestown. Its location is central to the Pride Festival block and welcomes everyone to our town,”
Marlene Pray, (pronouns She/Her) the Director of The Rainbow Room in Doylestown, was elated:
“Thank you, Doylestown Borough! Borough Council swiftly and boldly voted 9-0 in favor of a small rainbow crosswalk in the main downtown area at last night’ standing room only Council meeting. There were so many powerful, loving, and important speeches by the public and plenty of disturbing and harmful ones. Every hateful or thinly veiled excuse for anti-LGBTQ+ visibility or rights amplified the importance of the symbol of love, inclusion, and support for LGBTQ+ people. The idea has been discussed for many years and led to the start of the Doylestown Pride Festival. They are raising funds for the paint. The crosswalk will be installed next to Evolution Candy, and it may make some bigots unhappy, but it will bring a smile to many a queer youth. And for that, we are deeply grateful and proud. Love wins again in Doylestown!”