Redmond residents ask for inclusivity beyond Pride Month

At the November 1 city council meeting, residents expressed the need for a rainbow crosswalk.

At the Redmond City Council meeting on November 1, community members took to the public input stand and expressed the need for a rainbow crosswalk to support the LGBTQ+ community.

“After six months of nonstop work, we saw about 700 folks at our inaugural event,” said Axton Burton, a Redmond resident who created the first Redmond Pride event.

Burton expressed how individuals attended Redmond Pride from as north as Mukilteo and as south as Tacoma. They expressed how they have never been to Seattle Pride due to the volume of people and traffic.

“Nobody should have to travel across the bridge to have community,” said Burton.

An issue Burton brought up from Redmond Pride was the police presence. Burton was under the impression that law enforcement would not be present at the event, yet a patrol car parked behind the main stage where BIPOC LGBTQ+ women were preparing to perform for the first time. Burton stated that the city did not follow through with their promise to not have police presence, and that police Chief Darrell Lowe issued an apology.

“I’m calling on Redmond to put money behind their words of inclusion, Pride proclamation and show responsibility for its police accountability, and pay for next year’s venue, allowing me and the volunteers of Redmond Pride 2023 to focus on welcoming more people from Redmond, the Eastside and beyond,” said Burton.

Due to the two minute time constraints for public comment, Redmond voter James Webster continued Burton’s speech from their point of view. Webster mentioned how Seattle currently has 11 rainbow crosswalks at major intersections; Bellevue has 2 that became one year old this month; while the city of Kenmore is working on an asphalt art design.

“I, as those who are here with me online and couldn’t make this meeting, are asking you to please install a rainbow crosswalk to show not only solidarity, but welcoming to the increasing LGBTQ+ community who you serve,” said Webster.

Webster cited Resolution No. 1534, which states “A resolution of the city council of the city of Redmond, Washington, condemning hate by APPWW and affirming Redmond values of inclusion.

Brande Damiana, a former Redmond resident and the mother of a Transgender and Queer son who works in the city also spoke out at the meeting to talk about the importance of inclusion, and the benefits of an inclusive crosswalk.

“I am coming to you as a mom. I am the mom of a Queer, Trans child and his day-to-day difficulties as being someone who is Queer and Trans are staggering and it’s impossible for someone to understand who doesn’t see it everyday,” said Damiana.

She expressed some of her son’s experiences, which included losing college financial aid due to gender marker reassignment; his father disowned him; and he’s received rude comments and looks.

Her son, who was a vendor at Redmond Pride, felt a sense of community at the event. She expressed her desire to see inclusivity upheld with a rainbow crosswalk and with continuing Redmond Pride, because it lets the LGBTQ+ community know they are welcome, which can make a difference in their day-to-day lives, she said.

In addition to in person public comments, there were four written public comments–three of which were focused on creating a rainbow crosswalk in the city. President and Board of Directors at Carnation Farmers Market, Robert Gilliam, wrote in and talked about discrimination, marginalization and targeted hate crimes the LGBTQ+ community faces based on identity. Gilliam wrote that by visibly supporting the LGBTQ+ community, Redmond can take a step forward in helping residents and visitors feel safe.

“As someone who routinely visits and shops in Redmond, and identifies as LGBTQ, I would likely visit and shop in Redmond more frequently if I know that City decision makers care about providing a safe space for anyone who enjoys Redmond’s amenities,” said Gilliam. “The foundation of a strong community is inclusion, and I urge you to consider the positive impact you could make by choosing to support your LGBTQ neighbors and guests in these ways.”

In order to create a rainbow crosswalk in Redmond, a request must be submitted to the Redmond Arts & Cultural Commission for evaluation.

“I have confirmed with our Cultural Arts Administrator that the Commission has not yet received any proposals for a crosswalk,” said Jill Green, Communications Manager for the city of Redmond.

Transgender Day of Remembrance takes place on November 20, and honors the lives of Transgender individuals who were murdered as a result of transphobia. While there have been requests to raise LGBTQ+ flags in the past, the city of Redmond does not yet have a flag raising policy in place, but the city claims to be working on one.

“Until that policy is complete, we are unable to accommodate requests and will not be raising a Transgender flag this month,” said Green.