The neighbors knew what they had to do: they had to claim ownership of the hateful cross by painting it with love.
On the morning of Good Friday, residents of Gay Street, a small street in Manhattan that was named in 1833, woke up to find a huge cross chained to one of the gates of an apartment building. Every few days, the cross would move to another spot and become chained there for the next few days, according to Micah Latter, who shared the story on Instagram.
Though freedom of speech, public art, and religion are welcome anywhere, it was clear to Gay Street residents that this cross was meant to send a negative message that the neighbors just were not going to accept.
“As a Christian, the cross is a sign of love, peace, and hope and it was clear the mysterious owner of the cross was not sharing those same values,” Latter told POPSUGAR. “It was unsettling that the owner’s intentions were not sincere.”
It was clear from the fact that the cross was locked and immovable that this was a menacing message meant to force its presence on passersby and make many people uncomfortable simply because of its size and permanence.
Latter attempted to have the cross removed by contacting authorities and posting about the whereabouts every time it moved, but these attempts were unsuccessful. After expressing frustration over the cross’ presence, Latter’s friend suggested that her and other residents celebrate the cross and embrace it by turning it into that sign of love, peace, and hope that she imagined for it.
After nine days, Latter texted some of her neighbors to let them know that she had concocted a small plan to redecorate the cross and hoped that they would join her.
“We’re rainbow painting the cross. I’ll bring paint and Champagne for anyone that can make it,” Latter texted her neighbors.
Since the rainbow is a signature part of the LGBTQ movement, it was fitting to put it on the cross to send a message back to the owner of the cross that hate would not be accepted on this street. Despite its name, Gay Street isn’t even associated with the gay community, although its residents are clearly advocates for gay rights when faced with hate.
”Neighbors and strangers came together on Gay St., all approaching the meaning of the cross with different personal views, yet we all shared the same love and support for the community that we bonded over,” Latter told the Huffington Post about the event. “For two hours on a Sunday, it was just random strangers, tourists, straight couples, gay couples, kids and neighbors spreading love, painting rainbows on a cross, getting to know our neighbors, and drinking champagne on Gay St. It was a magical NYC evening!”
The icing on the cake is that the group also added a “love lock” to the chain and superglued the keyholes to their lock and the owner’s lock, making the cross immovable to all, in order to claim ownership of this new message of acceptance and love.