COVINGTON, Ky. — With music blasting from the front of nearby Bar 32, LGBTQ rights activists stepped back to admire the work of a hot Friday afternoon: Two crosswalks painted in rainbow colors to celebrate Pride Month.
“We were thinking about how we could commemorate and leave a visible mark” for the 10th anniversary of NKY Pride, festival organizer Bonnie Meyer said. “Rainbow crosswalks were the way to do that.”
The crosswalks, which sit at the intersection of Bakewell and West Seventh Streets, will remain as a permanent tribute to what Meyer described as a vibrant, inclusive community that outpaces the rest of Kentucky in ensuring lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are welcomed.
“We know that we are very lucky to live in the city of Covington, where we are so supported by our city government,” she said.
In 2003, Covington became one of the first cities in the state to pass a fairness ordinance mandating equal civil rights protections for LGBTQ residents. Similar legislation has stumbled on a larger scale this year both in the Kentucky legislature, where Senate Bill 166 died in committee, and in the United States Congress, where the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to reject the Equality Act passed by the Democrat-majority House.
Covington’s small-community atmosphere has always been its strength, according to Meyer. She hopes Covingtonians will see NKY Pride as a welcoming event for people of all ages and orientations.
Stan Goodin, who said he has celebrated LGBTQ pride for 46 years, described the first iteration of the Covington event in 2009 as “a ghost town” comprising a handful of booths from supportive businesses.
“It used to be, you had to hide,” he said. “Pride was maybe, like, 100 people when it began.”
Each subsequent year brought more people, however, and developments Goodin said he never anticipated during his lifetime. Seeing rainbow crosswalks in his small Kentucky city Friday drove home the progress he had witnessed over the course of his lifetime, he added.
“You want to cry because you just say, god, we’re somebody,” he said. “We’re not just someone stuck in a corner. You just feel like you’re somebody.”
Covington will celebrate NKY Pride with a parade and party running from 1 - 5 p.m. More information is available at the event's website.