Marblehead Select Board OKs ‘pride sidewalk’

Marblehead is set to join a growing list of Bay State communities that celebrate LGBTQ+ pride through public art.

The Marblehead Cultural Council will paint a rainbow sidewalk on four concrete slabs outside the Marblehead Information Booth in recognition of June as Gay Pride Month. COURTESY PHOTOS / MARBLEHEAD CULTURAL COUNCIL 

The Select Board unanimously gave the green light for the Marblehead Cultural Council to paint the progressive pride flag with an assortment of well-known symbols denoting love, peace and good fortune in the heart of Marblehead. The project should be completed this month and remain year-round.

“It will send a message of acceptance, tolerance and inclusion,” Marblehead-based artist TJ de Blij, commissioned by the MCC for this public art piece, shared with Select Board members. “It’s quite straightforward, sticking to symbols that are commonly used.” 

Named “Four Love & Peace Leaf Clover — Intersex Progress Pride,” the public art will be painted on four concrete slabs outside the Marblehead information booth, facing Memorial Park. The slabs are centrally positioned on a newly constructed triangular island situated between Pleasant and Essex streets.

De Blij’s design features four hearts assembled in a clover-like pattern, signifying love, peace and hope. The background, filled with the emblematic colors of the progressive pride flag, includes the six vibrant rainbow hues symbolizing hope: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for peace or serenity and purple for spirit.

An example of the proposed pride sidewalk painting that the Select Board approved on June 14. 

The design weaves in light blue, pink and white stripes symbolizing the trans community, and black and brown stripes recognizing people of color. Additionally, the intersex-inclusive progress pride flag is represented through a yellow triangle enclosing a purple circle, illustrating unity and completeness for the intersex community.

The four concrete slabs the town will paint with a pride-themed public artwork. 

“It’s really been a fantastic experience for the Marblehead Cultural Council to take on this project. From the very beginning, we knew that we wanted to do something that reflected our mandate from the state, which is to promote diversity and acceptance,” said Anthony Silva, former chairman of the MCC. “So we came up with the idea of creating a pride sidewalk, which we thought would be a strong visual statement of our community’s commitment to those values.”

The approval of this public art aligns with June’s Gay Pride Month and comes a fortnight after the town’s pride flag ceremony. 

“We aimed to create a lasting symbol of pride in Marblehead,” Silva added, “This will mark the first permanent installation celebrating pride in our town.”

The pride sidewalk’s approval arrived as news broke that the Marblehead Pride Committee and community members rallied in support of the Pleasant Street Preschool. Members of the Grace Community Church removed gay pride flags installed by the preschool’s owner, Michael Richmond, who rents classroom space within the church. 

“We need to make more assertive statements of acceptance and love,” Silva stressed. “We must ensure that love triumphs over hate.” 

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