LGBTQ San Diego County News
The first rainbow city crosswalk was actually done in Tel-Aviv, Israel. In 2012, when West Hollywood got its rainbow crosswalk, it drew the attention of San Diego LGBTQ activist Eddie Reynoso and the late Michael Calles aka Giggles, “Miss Tantrum and Tiaras.” In 2012, then-Councilman Todd Gloria was already working with the San Diego County GLBT Historic Task Force to establish Harvey Milk Street, the first in the nation. Gloria was also working with Stefan Chicote, Jonathan Hale and the Hillcrest Business Association to establish the rainbow flag and LGBT history monument at University Avenue and Normal Street. From 2013 on, Reynoso never stopped lobbying city officials and San Diego LGBTQ leaders and businesspeople about Hillcrest joining other major cities and establishing a rainbow crosswalk, even attending City Council and their subcommittee meetings.
As City Councilman Chris Ward said, “Eddie Reynoso was constantly pushing this project.” In 2016, Reynoso established the Hillcrest Arts Committee and soon established a solid working relationship with Brittany Bailey (a top aide to Councilman Ward), who then became a major backer of the street project as well as Ward and top council aides Molly Chase and Tyler Renner. Soon, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and his staff also became supporters of the rainbow crosswalk project, and as they say, the rest is history. This past Saturday, after more than a decade of lobbying, in Hillcrest, the rainbow crosswalk was finally dedicated with a huge celebration that drew nearly 1,000 people.
Speakers included state Senate President Toni Atkins, state Assemblyman Majority Whip Todd Gloria, Mayor Faulconer, Councilman Ward who also emceed the event, and the “Honorary Mayor of Hillcrest” City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez.
Both the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus and the San Diego Women’s Chorus performed as well as special drag queen performances led by the infamous “Tootie” of Lips Nightclub. Mayor Faulconer and “Honorary Mayor” Murray Ramirez were given the honor to walk across the rainbow after the official ribbon-cutting ceremony that was also attended by Congresswoman Susan Davis, state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, City Council President Georgette Gomez, City Council member Dr. Jen Campbell and LGBTQ leaders Cara Dessert, Fernando Lopez, Susan Jester, Big Mike Phillips, Nick Serrano and many others.
The next major project that Councilman Ward and his staff, as well as Hillcrest civic leaders, are working on is “Pride Plaza,” which will acknowledge the Italian community, education community, labor unions, the LGBTQ community veterans who all have history in Hillcrest, as well as the San Diego Trolley.
“After nearly a decade of community advocacy, I am proud that we have made this symbol of LGBTQ pride a reality. Our community has gathered to stand with people of color, with people of all religions, with people of all gender identities and sexual orientations to visibly demonstrate that San Diego is a place of acceptance and love,” said Ward.