We Painted the Pride Crosswalk in New York City This Year
Hello, I am Joe Camerota, and this is a true story.
Please note, I had bilateral inguinal hernia surgery on June 14th, 2021, which will be of note to this story.
I spend a lot of time in Greenwich Village in New York City.
And I noticed that this year, that even though there were planned Pride events, New York City did not paint the Pride Crosswalk that they usually paint at the intersection of Christopher Street and 7th Avenue, adjacent to Christopher Park/The Gay Liberation Monument.
New York City usually paints this crosswalk for Pride the Friday at the start of Pride Week, which would have been June 18th, 2021. New York City usually paints it on this Friday, so that the LGBTQIA+ community and tourists can enjoy a freshly painted Pride Crosswalk for all of Pride Week leading up to the Pride March and major Pride events, on the following Sunday, June 27th, 2021, this year.
Starting on June 18th, 2021, I came back every day during Pride Week to the Pride Crosswalk. I was hoping to see that it had been painted for Pride by the New York City DOT. No one ever showed up from New York City to paint it. Also, it had not been painted since World Pride 2019 in New York City, because of the pandemic, so at this point, in 2021, the black, brown, purple, and blue had almost completely faded to the same dark color of generic asphalt, and the brighter colors were still vaguely there.
And again, I came back every day, hoping to see it get freshly painted, and no one ever came.
So after showing up in the late afternoon on Saturday, June 26th, 2021, to find the crosswalk still unpainted anew, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I called up a close friend, Luke Gralia, and asked him if he would help me paint the Pride Crosswalk. He excitedly agreed. And Luke told me that he gets off work at 8 pm and could meet me at 8:30 or a little after.
I then called another close friend, Haleyna Kociuk-Garza, and asked her if she would like to join in on painting The Pride Crosswalk. And she said that she would love to and that her close friend Buchanan Highhouse would love to help too, as well as his step-sister, Sophia Huitema. But they all also could not meet me until 8:30 to 9 pm at the earliest.
Well, I had a problem. The ACE Hardware in Greenwich Village closes at 8. And because of my bilateral hernia surgery, I couldn’t and still can’t at the time of writing this, lift anything over 10 pounds.
I went to ACE Hardware in Greenwich Village at 7:40 pm and asked the first employee I saw to please assist me in lifting my items because I recently had hernia surgery. He obliged, and soon after, all of the employees were joining in to mix paint and organize the list I had made before coming in. The employees even stayed briefly after closing and double and triple-checked all of the items on my list. Thank you, ACE Hardware employees in Greenwich Village. They are awesome.
After assisting me with my purchases and loading all into the cart that I bought, and wheeling it out onto the street for me. These noted ACE Hardware employees locked up their store.
Shortly after, Haleyna and Buchanan showed up. They helped me push the cart of supplies to meet Luke at the Pride Crosswalk. Sophia met us shortly thereafter.
At first, we started putting down painter’s tape to frame the crosswalk as it was already framed, to make for quick painting.
As Luke, Haleyna, Buchanan, and Sophia were putting down painter’s tape, I was trying to get the crowd to move away from the crosswalk as kindly as I could. A man saw my efforts and came up to me and said, “I know where barricades are, I will get them for you.” I believe the man was named Mark, as I would later learn. But before I could even reply, he was gone and came back with barricades that were nearby. This man barricaded off the area for us, and a crowd grew around the barricade to watch us.
We started painting. Others asked to help. And we picked people out of the crowd to assist in painting. A man from Eastern Europe, here for Pride, asked me if he could paint the yellow which had not been fully claimed yet to paint. We obliged him.
We put a single fresh layer of paint on the Pride Crosswalk. We had enough paint for all the colors but ran out of white paint. Very poetic I feel, as it looked great after.
We then got drinks and let the paint dry as folk took pictures of the freshly painted crosswalk. And after it dried, we went inside the barricades again, took pictures together, myself, Haleyna, Luke, Buchanan, and Sophia. And then we had a Pride party on the Pride Crosswalk at midnight as Saturday, June 26th of the 2021 New York City Pride Weekend turned into Sunday, June 27th, the day of the 2021 Pride March.