Rhinestone-Encrusted Rhino to Mark Birmingham, UK’s Gay Village


You will know you have arrived at Birmingham, England's gay village by the light from the bedazzled rhinoceros.

The Birmingham Post reports:

It has been partly-funded by Birmingham’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group and the leftover cash from previous grants made by the city council as part of the Big City Plan to revitalise the city centre.

The overall cost of the model is £15,000 with Birmingham City Council providing the bulk of the cash through money received from nearby building schemes, with £2,500 from the Southside Business Improvement District. Organisers said a rhino was chosen to represent the area because the beast was “associated with strength and was originally a symbol of the gay rights movement in the United States”.

The use of rhinestones is supposed to reflect Birmingham’s rich jewellery-making history.

It is hoped that the rhino will be enough of a tourist draw to help revitalize the depressed district.

UPDATE: Some commenters noted that they had never heard of the rhino as a symbol of gay rights. I had never heard that before either.

Here's this, from the website Lambda.org:

The purple rhino made its first appearance in December 1974. It was created by  two Boston gay rights activists: one source names Bernie Toal and Tom Morganti, another says it was Bernie Toal and Daniel Thaxton. The entire campaign was intended to bring gay issues further into public view. The rhino started being displayed in subways in Boston, but since the creators didn't qualify for a public service advertising rate, the campaign soon became too expensive for the activists to handle. The ads disappeared, and the rhino never caught on anywhere else.

As Toal put it, "The rhino is a much maligned and misunderstood animal and, in actuality, a gentle creature." But when a rhinoceros is angered, it fights ferociously. At the time, this seemed a fitting symbol for the gay rights movement. Lavender was used because it was a widely recognized gay pride color and the heart was added to represent love and the "common humanity of all people." The purple rhinoceros was never copyrighted and is public domain.


  1. David in NYC says

    WHEN was the rhino a symbol of the gay rights movement?! and whyyyy isn’t it still the symbol today.

  2. says

    it’s a pretty popular symbol in Toronto, actually.

    rhino stuff adorns many a gay bar, particularly “Woody’s”.

    that said, i want me a rhinestone one. that’s hot.

  3. Caliban says

    I’ve never heard of a rhino in association with the US gay community either and I’m fairly well-read about gay history/culture.

    There’s RINO, Republican In Name Only, but that’s not gay-related.

  4. endo says

    I’ve never heard that the rhino was a symbol of gay rights either.

    But they’re about to go extinct. Sort of an ominous symbol to use for gays.

  5. Butch says

    How big is this thing? I don’t get it….and I’m wondering, seriously, how much of a tourist draw it could possibly be.

  6. Notkony says

    Flashy, fake, horny, with a few extra pounds – yeah, I’ve seen those guys out and about.

  7. says

    one person sees “flashy, fake, horny, with a few extra pounds”, another person sees “strong, gentle, misunderstood and willing to fight if pushed”

    the eyes you use to see things speak volumes about you as a human being.


  8. DJ w/o the spin says

    I kind of like it as well – more of a take charge kind of symbol than a pretty multicolored flag & much more interesting than an 800 pound gorilla in the corner. Also seems fitting since rhinos aren’t the only mammals on the African continent that are brutally sacrificed (see TWLRD/NYT story “A Boy to be Sacrificed”)

    now on a lighter note:
    @Caliban – I believe you are somewhat mistaken – RINOs ARE associated with the gay community in the USA, although the PC term generally used by others is GOProud. They may speak, act & even dress the part but will never truly be brought into the fold by the powerful pious puppet masters controlling the talking-head pundits & political candidates.

  9. Alex says

    What I don’t get is why they are using an American symbol. Surely there must be something with a bit more local ties than mimicking the yanks.

  10. jaragon says

    I wish this gay rhino symbol had caught on- rainbow flags are lovely- but an angry tough animal sends a stronger message these days

  11. Chip says

    I’ve heard the term Rhino used in a derogatory way about overly steroidal HIV+ muscle bears.

  12. says

    a gay village, ratbastard, is where there’s a collection of gay-friendly and gay-oriented businesses and homes. it’s that place your dad wouldn’t let you go visit before he did us all a favor and died.

  13. ratbastard says

    it’s that place your dad wouldn’t let you go visit before he did us all a favor and died.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Mar 26, 2012 10:26:33 PM

    You obnoxious little c*ck s*cker. You’re lucky you aren’t physically in front of me when you wrote that, you little pr*ck.

  14. ratbastard says

    littlekiwilovesbauhaus? You like to post feces all over the internet,tough guy. You’ve got a big, loud mouth.

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  16. lewlew says

    In San Francisco, there is a long-existent gay theater (plays, not movies) called Theater Rhino.