New Paltz village trustees are working on plans to display rainbow flags, and even paint a crosswalk in many colors, both to support the annual pride parade and as a nod to history.
Nicole Cutler told board members last week she hoped they would consider displaying symbols of support during June, which is considered “pride month.” Cutler recounted leaving California in 2004 to come to New Paltz when then-mayor Jason West performed same-sex weddings. She said that displaying symbols like the rainbow flag would be a “step towards welcoming inclusivity,” especially for confused teenagers.
Trustees later discussed the idea of painting a village crosswalk in rainbow colors as a show of support, which arose from an idea posed in the New Paltz Facebook group. “We’re interested in exploring how to do this,” Rogers said. A village-controlled location near Peace Park where the first weddings were performed would be easiest to approve, since no other layers of government would be involved. One option might be Plattekill and Main, which could entirely be on village property. Rogers considers it important to consider this idea for its historic value.
Trustee Don Kerr agreed it was “highly significant,” as the weddings were only happening in San Francisco and New Paltz at the time in 2004, before they were legal anywhere in the country. The appropriate paint would have to be purchased, and there would be a cost to maintain it. Kerr said a rainbow crosswalk might help continue the interest in the pride parade; in her comments, Cutler observed that attendance appeared to be flagging in recent years.
Some trustees then starting volunteering to buy colors: Kerr said his family would be willing to donate red and purple paint, and then Dennis Young pledged to help with blue and yellow. Rogers said that there were questions about how to paint and repaint it. In the interesting of “setting ourselves up for success,” he suggested looking into creating or purchasing a stencil for that purpose; Kerr will investigate how it’s done in other municipalities.
Young returned the conversation to obtaining a rainbow flag, not just for history but to ensure the parade stays in New Paltz. Another Facebook thread in June focused discussion around the dearth of rainbow displays during the pride parade. Trustees approved purchasing a rainbow flag for display in June and whenever else it’s considered appropriate. That flag could be raised on the flagpole in front of the firehouse, below the United States flag. Rogers stressed that this cause stands out because of the historic significance.
“It’s really part of our identity,” said KT Tobin, who also thought it would be worth looking into adding to the copious number of American flags displayed along Main Street.