The City of Coquitlam has approved a rainbow crosswalk to be located next to City Hall, but the decision has drawn criticism from the very community it’s supposed to represent.
Nicola Spurling, president of the Tri-Cities Pride Society said the seven colour rainbow proposed by the city is not symbolic of the LGBTQ community.
“Various community members have suggested that we have a seven colour rainbow instead of a six or an eight colour which was the traditional symbol designed by artist Gilbert Baker,” Spurling said.
According to Spurling, the flag was initially created by Gilbert with eight colours that represented sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic and arts, serenity and spirit.
“Due to a shortage of the colour pink back in 1979, that number was then reduced to six and that’s where the current pride flag comes from.”
Spurling was one of the delegates who brought forward the idea of the rainbow-coloured crosswalk, but said the proposal garnered critics.
“I’ve seen a lot of backlash from the community who originally didn’t want the crosswalk,” she said.
“Once the crosswalk got approved, they pivoted to saying, ‘well, we want it to be seven colours because we don’t want it to be representative of the pride community,'” she said.
Spurling said these community members misunderstand what the rainbow flag represents, pointing out that the pride crosswalk is inclusive of everyone.
“We’re trying to make sure that these people’s complaints, who are opposed to a symbol of pride, aren’t dictating how the city chooses to show how they are welcoming and accepting and diverse,” she said.
WATCH: Rainbow crosswalk
Asked repeatedly whether it was planning to deviate from the traditional pride design, the city would not confirm its plans.
But Spurling said she’s had correspondence with the city’s transportation department signalling plans to use the seven coloured rainbow.
“We want to honour this history, honour the original artist, and honour the meaning of the six or eight colour flag that represents everyone, whether you are part of the queer community or not,” she said.
The City of Coquitlam was not available for further comment.