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Why This Drag Queen Painted a Rainbow Crosswalk in Birmingham

Rainbow crosswalk

Gavina Vagina aka James Cowper tells Out the crosswalk is “just what we needed.”

The LGBTQ+ residents in Birmingham can walk with pride thanks to a new rainbow crosswalk that was unveiled in the town's Gay Quarter this past Friday. The crosswalk's drag queen designer, Gavina Vagina (aka James Cowper) spoke with Out about the significance of the street art for the city during this time of crisis.

"I think the crossing has been long overdue," Cowper, the driving force behind the crosswalk on Hurst Street, tells Out. "It's all been a bit doom and gloom in recent months."

The artist and performer Cowper says the design is based on the Progress flag "to include stripes representing the trans community and POC." The rainbow crosswalk had been commissioned by the Southside Improvement District at the start of the year, but the global shutdown delayed the painting.

The area has been hard hit by closures and social distancing restrictions this year. The street was closed to traffic this past weekend, turning Hurst Street into a large pedestrian gathering area, to help bring back customers. According to Cowper, the street fair and painted crosswalk have been "just what we needed."

Cowper performs as drag queen Gavina Vagina and says she "has been a resident at the Missing Bar for seven to eight years now." Cowper feels perfectly safe and at home in Burmingham, saying the city's LGBTQ+ community "is the best in the UK. It's immensely diverse, but more importantly, so supportive."

While it's only a crosswalk, Cowper feels it's the right thing to do for the community at this time.

"I like the idea of doing something that brings the Birmingham gay scene together. Rather than it being everyone out for themselves."

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