Local residents across Sydney have created their own rainbow crossings in chalk after the New South Wales (NSW) State Government dismissed public pressure and had a rainbow pride crossing installed for the Sydney Mardi Gras torn up in the dead of night on Wednesday.
Not even Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore had been told that road workers would be blocking off Sydney’s iconic Oxford Street to tear up the rainbow section of the road and replace it with black bitumen.
The following day a group of residents in Commonwealth Lane, Surry Hills, used colored chalk to make their own rainbow crossing and posted a photo online and the story went viral.
A grassed section of Sydney’s Taylor Square was also planted with dozens of rainbow flags to protest the removal.
By Saturday there were dozens of copycat chalk rainbow crossings across Sydney– with shelves cleared of chalk in many inner city stores.
Photos of rainbow chalk crossings were sent by copycats to a Facebook page created by the makers of the original crossing, brother and sister James and Kelly Brechney.
Chalk rainbow crossings have appeared as far a field as Kenya and Phoenix, Arizona, in New South Wales rural centers and across state lines in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.
One brave group of protesters even turned the footpath outside the building where NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay works into a rainbow chalk crossing.
Minister Gay is the man who had the ultimate say on whether the Oxford Street crossing would stay but he refused to relent in his plans for its removal – saying it posed a potential hazard as people had stopped to photograph themselves on the crossing when traffic was stopped at the lights.
New chalk crossings have continued to appear today and many sympathetic businesses have marked the pavement outside their shops, bars and restaurants to show support for the return of the original crossing.
Many people turned to social media to write how neighbours they had never met before who had spontaneously chipped in to help were now their friends.
‘We met more of our neighbours in an hour while making this than we have over the past six months living here,’ wrote Camperdown resident Munir Kotadia.
The Oxford Street crossing cost $75,000 to install and $30,000 to tear up. The chalk ones will just wash away with the rain.