Milwaukee Pride, in partnership with local LGBTQ and neighborhood organizations, has advanced a proposal to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's office requesting the installation of rainbow crosswalks in Cathedral Square.
The proposal states, "We ask the city of Milwaukee to honor its incredible LGBTQ legacy with a decorative rainbow crosswalk at the intersection of Jefferson and Wells. This crosswalk, as the first Milwaukee monument to LGBTQ people, will be not just a symbol of local pride, but a testament to historic local triumph."
Thirteen partner groups endorsed the campaign, including:
• Milwaukee LGBT Community Center
• Cream City Foundation
• East Town Association
• Friends of Cathedral Square
• AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin
• Milwaukee Pride Parade
• Milwaukee LGBT Film & Video Festival
• UWM Libraries, Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project
• Fair Wisconsin
• Diverse & Resilient
• City of Milwaukee Equal Rights Commission
• Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
Milwaukee Ald. Bob Bauman of the 4th District also wrote to support the concept.
A statement from Milwaukee Pride noted that since 2010, more than 30 cities established rainbow crosswalks to commemorate their LGBTQ heritage.
In 2016, George Schneider of This Is It submitted a request for crosswalks to the Milwaukee Department of Public Works.
Milwaukee Pride said that without formal review, the request was rejected.
Milwaukee Pride is now emphasizing the historical and cultural reasons for rainbow crosswalks in Cathedral Square.
"Milwaukee Pride has its historic roots in Cathedral Square," Michail Takach, vice president of communications, said in a news release.
"On June 17, 1989, 500 people marched from Walker's Point to Cathedral Square, where another 500 had gathered for a rally. The first Milwaukee Pride March earned regional media attention as well as the first-ever endorsement from a Milwaukee mayor and county executive," Takach said.
"Thirty years later, PrideFest Milwaukee is now the state's largest annual gathering of LGBTQ people. But we wouldn't be here today, if not for that pivotal moment in Cathedral Square."
The rainbow crosswalks would be dedicated to the memory of June Brehm, who in 1968, opened This Is It at 419 E. Wells St. to create a safe, welcoming space for her gay friends.
Fifty years later, This Is It celebrates the historic claim of being the oldest LGBTQ bar in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, as well as one of the top 10 longest continuously operating in the United States.
Schneider stated, "With the Milwaukee Streetcar coming to East Town, a rainbow crosswalk would be a wonderful visual for visitors to see and know they are welcome here. It would carry lasting meaning as a continuous, year-round celebration of our LGBTQ citizens. It would spark conversation about the history of the neighborhood and what it means to LGBTQ people."
"Crosswalks would say we are all-inclusive and supportive of all our citizens. So, let's do it. It's high time," Schneider added.
About Milwaukee Pride
- to educate both the general community and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer (LGBTQ) communities about needs, issues and various aspects of the LGBTQ culture;
- to provide a forum to celebrate the history and accomplishments of LGBTq people;
- to create an environment for networking and outreach for services and community opportunities for LGBTQ people and their families and friends; and
- any other activities exclusively for charitable, educational, and research purposes, including, for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.