Linda Poon is an assistant editor at CityLab covering science and urban technology, including smart cities and climate change. She previously covered global health and development for NPR’s Goats and Soda blog.
The city’s commission on human rights has created a $265,000 ad campaign to urge people to “look past pink and blue.”
In the midst of several states killing anti-discrimination laws and stripping the LGBT community of basic protections, New York has stood out. In March, Mayor Bill de Blasio made headlines when he signed an executive order mandating that people be given the right to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. The NYPD recently made its own statement in support of transgender rights with a post at their headquarters noting that bathrooms in all police stations are now gender-neutral, according to the New York Daily News.
Earlier this week, New York City made another show of support when it kicked off LGBT Pride Month with the nation’s first citywide public ad campaign affirming bathroom access for transgender people. The commission is spending a total of $265,000 to promote bilingual posters and videos telling New Yorkers to “look past pink and blue.”
And in case anyone was still confused, a line at the bottom of the posters notes: “In NYC, It’s the law. No questions asked.”
The ads feature Alisha King, a transgender woman from the Bronx, and a transgender man named Charlie Solidum, from Brooklyn. “We just want to use the restroom safely and be treated with respect,” King said in a press release. Transgender youth, who are at high risk for bullying and suicide, are also represented: One of the video features a transgender teen facing pressure to not use the girl’s bathroom. The ads will appear on bus shelters, phone booths, and subway cars throughout the city, as well as on television and social media.
The press release goes on to state that NYC “continues to lead the nation” in protecting LGBT rights. Indeed, the city has been the scene of many firsts in the history of the gay rights movement. The city’s Stonewall Inn was the scene of the 1969 riots that are said to have catapulted the LGBT movement into action. The site will be designated by President Obama as the first national monument to gay rights.
Those 1969 riots turned into a parade in 1970, recorded as the nation’s first gay pride parade, which now takes place every year in Manhattan. At the height of America’s HIV/AIDS crisis in the ‘90s, the New York-based organization Visual AIDs made famous the red ribbon symbol as a call for awareness and compassion. And though the New York wasn’t the first to allow gay marriage (that was Massachusetts), the passage of the state’s Marriage Equality Act in 2011 made it the largest state at the time to do so.
The current “Look Past the Pink and Blue” campaign, with its bold colors and unapologetic messages, is yet another accomplishment to add to the city’s timeline of LGBT milestones.