The transgender flag mural that was painted on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard, between WeHo’s rainbow crosswalks, in solidarity with the All Black Matters Protest, was washed away yesterday, Friday, June 19, one day before the main event of the Trans Pride L.A. weekend hosted virtually this year by the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
It seems the mural vanished the same way it was erected, in the dead of night, without warning, or the approval from some members of the community who figured it would be on display past the All Black Lives Matter march and be part of the Trans Pride L.A. celebration this weekend.
The transgender flag mural was a resounding message that Black Trans Lives Matter in the All Black Lives Matter protest march. The painting of the mural began at around 11pm on Saturday and was completed in the early hours the next morning at around 3am, on Sunday, June 14, ahead of the ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER march that took place later that afternoon. It was painted by organizers of the march with help from West Hollywood community members. West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath was at the scene briefly and there was police presence blocking the street to make sure protesters were safe.
It was only up for less than a week.
The mural was painted without a vote, a permit, or approval from the City Manager or West Hollywood City council, a move that was criticized by some council members and members of the community. It started a debate about the City’s stand on trans rights, whether a trans crosswalk should be erected somewhere in the city and why some felt the mural was a defacement of City property. Mayor Lindsey Horvath was also criticized for making her presence known during the painting of the mural.
Others saw the mural as a show of solidarity with the marginalized trans community and did not care how the mural went up in the City of West Hollywood. They hoped it would remain as a permanent art installation between the rainbow crosswalk.
“It’s about time there be more visible signs of trans inclusion in West Hollywood,” said WEHO TIMES reader Calista. “As a woman of transgender experience, my sisters and I have felt sidelined for years by the dominant white male culture that permeates WeHo. Now the question remains whether this painting is a token gesture or a permanent statement of solidarity.”
One critic of the rogue move to paint the mural without permission was council member John Duran. He posted the following on his Facebook timeline breaking down the problems with the mural:
“Since a few of you have asked about the pink and blue transgender rights symbol painted at ‘Protest Corner’ at Santa Monica Blvd and San Vicente – that was not reviewed or considered or approved by Weho City Hall, City Council or the CIty Manager. It appears that some group came out in the middle of the night and slapped the paint on the asphalt without approval.
2 problems – in previous transportation staff analysis reports – we were told that there could be no marking in the middle of the intersection of 2 major boulevards other than directional signage to assist traffic. That is why we created Rainbow Crosswalks rather than a huge mural across the intersection.
We were also told that the level of automobile traffic across Santa Monica Blvd and San Vicente Blvd was so high – that any painting there would suffer monthly damage and not be sustainable.
Finally – although we may agree with the message of this expression for transgender equality – we would not agree with the placement of a confederate flag, or a Greenpeace symbol or any other random expression in the middle of our public streets without public input, proposal competition and a decision made at a public meeting.
So while I understand that the painting on the street is part of the symbolic protest for Trans Equality – we are left with the choice to either let it fade over time and look horrible for many months or restore the corner to its original form. I know it’s Trans Pride this weekend so it will still be there with tire marks and scuffs for another week. But then the heart of ‘Historic Boystown’ will have to be restored to its original rainbow crosswalks only.
While I appreciate the enthusiasm of the people who rolled out paint cans at 3:30 a.m. to get their message out – if we allow this to stand and possibly continue – we may not like the next painted message another group paints on the asphalt. If we remove one mural yet allow the other to remain – now we, the government, are regulating content in expression. And that’s a big No No.
If we ever decide to do more on those 4 corners at Santa Monica Blvd and San Vicente – it will be in the spirit of commemorating those who demanded that we ‘come out’ during the 70’s, those who fought the deadly HIV virus with chants of ‘ACT UP! FIGHT BACK! FIGHT AIDS’ during the 80’s, those who battled to serve in the military in the 90’s and those who marched for the Freedom to Marry in the new millennium. And YES of course – for Trans Rights. But that’s for a future day – with lots of stakeholders and ideas – before we make something permanent in the heart of Weho.”
The Los Angeles LGBT Center announced this year’s Trans Pride L.A. will be streamed live for the first time in the festivity’s history. The nation’s oldest and largest celebrations of the vibrant Trans/Gender Non-Conforming/Non-Binary (Trans/GNC/ENBY) community will take place on Friday and Saturday, June 19–20. The two-day event will offer virtual workshops, panel discussions, art exhibit, and a highly-anticipated VarieTy Show.
The full schedule of Trans Pride is posted online at www.lalgbtcenter.org/transpride.