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Photo from Pride Train’s Instagram

Rainbow-striped signs and flags have been installed on subways all across New York City as part of a guerilla campaign celebrating Gay Pride Month. The installations are part of a project called “Pride Train,” created by New York City graphic designers Thomas Shim, Ezequiel Consoli and Jack Welles.

At first glance, the signs might not stand out from the MTA’s posters—but a closer look reveals that they have a far more encouraging message. Some of the signs declare, “No bigotry, hatred, or prejudice at this station.” Beneath, the signs read, “How does this affect my trip? Answer: it doesn’t.”

The artists have also installed rainbow flag stickers beneath service signs on the cars themselves. The project was not authorized by the MTA, but so far it has not received any pushback from the organization.

Photo from Pride Train’s Instagram

Thomas Shim stated that his co-creators came up with the idea for the project when The White House failed to acknowledge the beginning of Pride month on June 1st. Pride was first recognized by Bill Clinton in 2000 and was also honored by President Obama, but the current administration has yet to comment on it.

Photo from Pride Train’s Instagram

In addition, the project was created to combat the sometimes oppressive atmosphere of New York City’s underground network of tunnels. “The MTA is the darkest space in the city, and kids and adults need to understand that they can be as open as they are above ground, and they should feel safe. Not just LGBTQ people and women, but also people of color,” Shim told Gothamist.

Photo from Pride Train’s Instagram

Pride Train has continued to spread its message of encouragement and love on Instagram and Twitter, and in the few days the 200 posters have been up across New York City, the group has received a great deal of social media love.

The celebratory, underground nature of the project is right in line with the traditional mediums that shaped Pride. Some LGBTQ+ people have accused companies of commodifying the rainbow flag, and these installations feel like genuine expressions of support for the gay community, with their quietly anonymous presence that spreads a positive message of enthusiasm and hope.

Photo from Pride Train’s Instagram

The medium of graffiti and unauthorized street art itself has a long and storied history, and it remains a method of protesting greater systems that threaten to control and numb the public. These signs will reach a lot of people thanks to their locations on the subways, and the fact that they are disrupting the flow of movement and routine in stations. If one LGBTQ+ person or ally’s spirit is lifted by the sight of a rainbow flag floating past them in the haze of a subway station in the heat of summer, then the installation will have done its job.

Photo from Pride Train’s Instagram

New York City, of course, has long been a central hub of gay pride and activism, and so the Pride Train follows a rich tradition of joyful and powerful art that celebrates queer culture and pays homage to the people and places before that have been instrumental in securing gay rights. New York was the original home of Pride Month, which was created to honor the 1969 Stonewall Riots. This year, New York City will celebrate pride by holding a series of events including a rally on June 16th, an awards ceremony on June 21st, a march on Sunday, June 25th, and much more.

Next, check out Gay Pride in NYC Through the Lens of Fred W. McDarrah and 10 Notable LGBT Landmarks and Sites in NYC

 Gay Pride month, LGBT

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