Athens-Clarke County officials dedicated four rainbow crosswalks painted at the intersection of College Avenue and Clayton Street, calling them a symbol of inclusion for the LGBTQ community.
“I’m so grateful that in Athens we have room for everyone on the public square,” said Mayor Kelly Girtz.
The Athens-Clarke County Commission approved the crosswalks in 2020 as part of a project to remake College Square into a pedestrian plaza. Commissioner Allison Wright spearheaded that effort at the urging of Cameron Harrelson, who is now the president of the Athens Pride and Queer Collective. A tearful Wright called Harrelson her “third son.”
Harrelson said he came out as gay 10 years ago because Athens was the first place he ever felt comfortable doing so. The rainbow crosswalks will make others in his position feel more secure as well, he said. “These crosswalks are now a sign to every child, every youth, every adult in Athens that your lives are valued,” he said.
But “art is not enough,” said Harrelson—a potential candidate for the open District 2 commission seat—citing other actions like Athens’ first pride parade earlier this year, raising the pride flag over City Hall, the passage of a local nondiscrimination ordinance and the creation of ACC’s Inclusion Office and Human Rights Commission. Policies for making sure everyone is housed, fed and safe are also needed, he added.
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