'Longest' Rainbow Bike Path? Stop symbolism!
It's Pride Month and the ads are storming again. The ING, Politie Nederland, the CDA and commercial companies shine with the Rainbow colours. It is striking this year that Utrecht has made national news, because on the Uithof 'the longest Rainbow Cycle Path in the world will be created', according to the AD.
But what does this actually mean? And (how exactly) does this contribute to the emancipation and safety of the LGBTQIA+ community? The only painful answer to the second question is: in no way. Colored Qollective, co-signatory of the open letter, distances itself from this initiative.
We have no doubt about the intentions of the initiators behind this cycle path. However, we have problems with the development of this initiative, in more specific terms with the symbol. The rainbow cycle path is pure symbolism.
After all, does such a crosswalk really ensure that LGBTQIA+ people can walk the streets more safely and reduce violence against them? In fairness, you can question that, as it is completely unclear how the most marginalised and oppressed LGBTQIA+ groups benefit from this.
It is stated that this initiative is a 'first step' towards concrete policy developments and implementation. For now, the focus is still on media attention, political gain and reputation enhancement, more known as performative activism. Again, how do LGBTQIA+ people benefit from this?
Moreover, this is a huge money investment. While we are still in a pandemic, while the number of homeless LGBTQIA+ people is increasing and while there is hardly any (culture) sensitive care available for trans and non-binary people.
It is said that the cycle path ensures that 'a conversation will be opened'. What good is a conversation for the LGBTQIA+ community if there is still a real chance that we will be intimidated and beaten up on the streets? Apparently, the priority is not to increase the safety and rights of LGBTQIA+ people, but to the longest cycle path. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter for our well-being whether we are beaten upon a regular bike path, or on a rainbow bike path.
In an open letter published, Colored Qollective is a co-signatory to this initiative. We initially pledged with the hope that concrete changes would take place, generating more awareness and attention to this necessary theme. However, as it stands so far, it only looks like a sham of 'tolerant' Rainbow Policy and thus contributes to Pinkwashing and Rainbow Capitalism; which we as an organization fight hard against.
For the above reasons, Colored Qollective distances itself from this initiative, also because it does not align with the mission and vision of our organization. We like to think along with you when we continue to work on concrete actions and actions that actually meet the needs of the group. Not in terms of symbols and advertisements, but on content and necessary themes that concern the group.
On behalf of the board of Colored Qollective