City of Coquitlam’s approval of rainbow-crosswalk “slap in the face” for queer community

The pride rainbow, seen here in Toronto's pride crosswalk, was created by Gilbert Baker and consists of either six or eight colours. File/ Global News

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.”

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READ MORE: Rainbow-coloured crosswalks proposed in Coquitlam

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.

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In an email to CKNW, the a city spokesperson said “It [the design] has not yet been finalized so we’re not in a position to confirm.”

But Spurling said she’s had correspondence with the city’s transportation department signalling plans to use the seven coloured rainbow.

The meaning of the six coloured rainbow flag created by artist Gilbert Baker. Credit: Nicola Spurling
The meaning of the eight coloured rainbow flag created by artist Gilbert Baker. Credit: Nicola Spurling
“The concern obviously is they [the City] aren’t listening to what the community has been asking for and that they are looking at putting in a symbol that is not actually a symbol, because what they are trying to do is appease everyone,” Spurling said, adding doing so would be a “slap in the face” to the LGBTQ community.
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“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.

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