ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Just two weeks ago, Florida’s transportation officials initially said no to lighting the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in rainbow colors to honor Pride Month. But on Tuesday, bridge drivers noticed that wasn’t the case.
Overnight, the iconic bridge shined in the Pride color scheme. In a statement to FOX 13, FDOT officials said from now on, they will consider lighting requests if local governments can show "broad public support" for them. They recently received letters from commissioners in Manatee, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties saying there was community support for the Skyway to light up in support of Pride Month.
"We have a ‘test mode’ that can group some colors together and we used that to provide a rainbow effect," they said in the statement. "It started [Tuesday] night and will run for seven nights."
Last year, St. Pete Pride organizers asked the Florida Department of Transportation to have the LED lights on the Skyway bridge to match the color scheme of a rainbow, but officials denied the request because it wasn't one of the eight approved color schemes. This year, they were initially denied again because FDOT said the bridge can only display three colors at once.
At the time, FDOT said, they denied requests from other organizations, such as the American Heart Association, and a request to represent World Autism Awareness Day.
This month, St. Pete Pride organizers said FDOT was trying to find some color schemes to create the visual of a rainbow. Now, it appears they found the right combination.
The Bradenton Herald reports the change in policy also applied to the Ringling Causeway Bridge. FDOT also previously denied a request to display Pride colors for the Sarasota bridge but on Monday, city commissioners in Sarasota passed a unanimous resolution to support the Pride lights for the bridge.
Earlier this month, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority announced the city's Acosta Bridge will display rainbow colors for Pride Month, but FDOT stepped in, saying the color scheme was "out of compliance" with an existing permit, reports WJXT. FDOT reversed course the following day.
June marks the beginning of Pride Month, a celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community since the Stonewall Riots, an uprising by young gays, lesbians and transgender people in New York City which began on June 27, 1969.
Then, protesters clashed with police near a bar called the Stonewall Inn. The riots would go on to become a vital catalyst in expanding LGBT activism nationwide and abroad.
In early June, St. Petersburg kicked off a month-long Pride celebration, which comes to an end this weekend with a fireworks show along the downtown St. Pete waterfront.