Maplewood, N.J. became the first town in that state to install permanent rainbow crosswalks indicating the community's dedication to LGBT inclusivity when it unveiled the giant rainbow stripes at the intersection of Valley Street (a county road) and Oakview Road during Pride month on Thursday, according to New Jersey.com.
"We want to do something that would serve as a permanent marker or symbol of our commitment to inclusion," Dean Dafis, the first out member of the Maplewood Township Committee, said. "I wanted it to be something you can encounter every day. We want our youth in particular -- perhaps those struggling to find their way, those in need of empowerment and affirmation -- to proudly cross or walk over their fear and self-doubt."
Maplewood's flag hearkens to LGBT history more than most modern depictions of the rainbow flag as it uses the colors of rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker's original 1978 design and not the stripes that are typically used today.
"The most important thing about Maplewood is that we all know each other so well. It's really tightknit. And I think when you have that it's hard not to be inclusive and want everyone to feel safe and happy here," Maplewood resident Jennifer Bass told New Jersey. Com. "It may be that a few people in town aren't happy with it but I think this town is more than open to this kind of thing."
"While many towns have striped their crosswalks in the colors of the rainbow before for Pride, no town in NJ has ever done so on a County Rd (Valley) and very few towns in the world have done so in permanent fashion as we are doing," Dafis said. "This is a historic achievement and one which once again marks Maplewood as a leader and crusader in diversity, inclusion, and equal treatment. When we commit to something here, we do it BIG!"