Gay Crossing Ahead

Vienna-1The city of Vienna wants to increase pedestrian awareness and safety, so they’ve installed “Walk” and “Wait” signals that feature images of same-sex couples. This comes at a time when Germany is racing to install more “female” signals to address criticism that manly shapes have predominated for too long. So, if Walk and Wait signals can send a political message, why not send a message of GLBT inclusiveness?

But why now, and why Vienna? Some people couldn’t help but notice that Vienna would be hosting the titanically popular Eurovision contest this year, and this could be a great way to show Germany how it’s done. Or maybe the country they had in mind was Russia, that perennial Eurovision powerhouse, the country that everyone loves to hate (and laugh at). One source of contempt is Russia’s recent crackdown on GLBT rights and its suppression of gay-related words and images (“homosexual propaganda”). So what better way to express this contempt than by placing same-sex couples right where people can’t look away? Make them ubiquitous enough, and Russian visitors taking selfies won’t be able to avoid carrying these images back home!

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