a photo of Harlan's beach in Toronto

A Toronto street is being transformed into the world’s longest rainbow road

On May 25, Toronto’s Beach Road is being transformed into the world’s longest rainbow road as part of a massive art installation to ensure that the queer community and the 80+ years of queer history at Hanlan’s Point is never forgotten.

Last May, the city unanimously voted to recognize Hanlan’s Point Beach as a historically queer space and to consult Toronto’s queer community during restorations.

“With trans, black, and brown progress chevrons starting [on] each side, the 600 metre (or just under 2,000 feet) rainbow will run along Beach Road behind the beach,” Friends of Hanlan, a community advocacy group working to preserve the queer, ecological, and naturist significance of Hanlan’s Point Beach in Toronto, noted in an Instagram post on Saturday.

The opening celebration will also include some of Canada’s top drag artists to break in the rainbow runway, along with beachy swag, giveaways, plus fun, friends, and twirling.

The project is the creative effort of award-winning artist and advocate Travis Myers, and is being executed with the help of Pride Toronto. It is entirely community-funded, with help from individual donations and donations from supportive businesses.

“Come out on May 25th and take part in a little bit of world history being made at our special little beach,” the post states.

This permanent transformation of Beach Road will break a world record — although reactions to the news are mixed.

“Having participated in the broader consultation process last year, I don’t recall this project come up through the consultation process,” one user wrote under the Instagram announcement. “I fully support the installation of LGBTQ2+ cultural markers, signage, and flag pole, but feel painting the world’s longest rainbow may be a bit excessive in such a natural environment.”

The organizers responded that it’s an artist’s donation to the city, not a public works project, so there are different streams for how those approvals are made.

“Hanlan’s is also…one of the world’s ten oldest surviving queer spaces, so world class makes sense when honouring it imho,” they noted.

The artist, Travis Myers, joined in on the conversation, noting that the project went through a city working group, was on the council docket for a month, and was voted on by city council, in addition to being vetted by parks operations, forestry, business services, and more.

“So happy for the opportunity to create something to give back to the community. As we all know, anti-queer violence and hatred has been on the rise, but through visibility and markers we can better show the world the space that matters to us,” Myers wrote in a comment. “Queer space matters.”

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