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ROY-G-BIV in the MKE?

Rainbow crosswalks proposed for Cathedral Square

Since 2010, more than 30 cities worldwide implemented rainbow crosswalks to commemorate their local LGBTQ heritage and Milwaukee could soon join the ranks.

Milwaukee Pride, in partnership with local LGBTQ and neighborhood organizations, submitted a proposal to Mayor Tom Barrett's office requesting the installation of rainbow crosswalks in Downtown's Cathedral Square.

"We ask the City of Milwaukee to honor its incredible LGBTQ legacy with a decorative rainbow crosswalk at the intersection of Jefferson and Wells," reads the proposal. "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."

In 2016, George Schneider of This Is It, 419 E. Wells St., submitted a similar request to the Milwaukee Department of Public Works, but it was rejected.

Milwaukee Pride vice president of communications, Michail Takach, hopes to see the proposal approved this time around and he expressed the significance of rainbow crosswalks in that particular part of Downtown Milwaukee.

"Milwaukee Pride has its historic roots in Cathedral Square," said Takach. "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."

The rainbow crosswalks would be dedicated to the memory of June Brehm who opened This Is It to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive space for her gay friends. Fifty years later, This Is It – located just west of Cathedral Square – is the oldest LGBTQ bar in Wisconsin, as well as one of the top 10 longest continuously operating in the United States.

The proposal has the support of 13 partner organizations, including the 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 and the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

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