The LGBTQ Commission of Kansas City announced recently that a new rainbow crosswalk will be installed in Midtown later this month.
The rainbow, which will feature the colors of the Progress Pride flag, will flank the intersection of 39th and Summit outside of the iconic Missie B’s.
The project is slated to be completed in time for the Kansas City Pride Festival and Parade on the weekend of the 21st-22nd.
Justice Horn, a local activist who currently serves on the LGBTQ Commission of Kansas City, spearheaded the project, which was pitched to him by local entertainer, Kiki Uchawi.
Initially, Horn had his doubts, but believed that the project was worth a shot.
“I thought it was a pie in the sky,” said Horn. “But I think there are a lot of pies in the sky that we can go for.”
Despite his initial skepticism about the project when he and Uchawi began work on it last year, he found there to be considerable support for the new crosswalk.
“I just think everything happened for a reason,” explained Horn. “From a progressive city council that has really embraced LGBTQ issues, to a commission having thirteen members, all the way to the city manager really getting behind this. So, I think the city was ready, the administration was ready, as well as the community was ready for this.”
Uchawi, who currently serves as entertainment director and consultant at Missie B’s, got the idea for this project after seeing similar crosswalks in other cities.
“I travel a lot for work, and I’ve seen it. I’ve walked across many of them while I’m going to different gigs in different places,” said Uchawi. “You can kind of notice a shift where you can see Queer people holding hands and gathering and being free and doing whatever they want to do.”
Uchawi further explained that in these other cities, LGBTQ people are not safe in other parts of the city, so spaces like this provide a sort of oasis.
“I’ve seen that happen many times,” recalled Uchawi. “So it was my notion that we should have something like that in Kansas City. And even though we are a more liberal city, there are still areas and places where you’re just not sure you’re comfortable.”
Horn also offered his thoughts on the value that this crosswalk will add to the city.
When it came to choosing a location, the intersection in front of Missie B’s was the obvious choice for Horn and Uchawi.
“We chose that location because it’s a very historic LGBTQ symbol. A big portion of the community visits that area. We wanted this to be shared by everyone,” said Horn.
Uchawi echoed this sentiment and elaborated on Missie B’s significance with Kansas City’s LGBTQ community and how it will benefit from the new crosswalk.
“Missie B’s is a hotspot for a lot of people to come and do things,” explained Uchawi. “And a lot of times people don’t know if they’re fully safe in the area, even though they are.”
Missie B’s will be hosting events this weekend to celebrate, commemorate and raise money and awareness for the new crosswalk. In addition to a number of drag and music performances throughout the weekend, there will be a ceremony at Missie B’s this Friday at 2 p.m. and an all-day festival starting at noon on Saturday.
While this project is one of the very first major statements of public LGBTQ Pride and visibility, Uchawi hopes it will not be the last.
“Hopefully it will inspire a few other businesses to maybe put some more down in a few other places. I don’t think that this should by any means be the only crosswalk. It’ll be the first one, but there can be more.”