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'Rhinestone Rhino' Unveiled in Birmingham UK's Gay Village

Rhinestonerhino

I've posted about this project occasionally over the past year. The massive sparkling rhinoceros being approved by the Birmingham, England City Council to revitalize the city center and gay village is now a reality, the Birmingham Mail reports:

Three artists were commissioned to design and create the rhino: Emma Butler, Vikki Litton and Robbie Coleman. Emma said they started making the statue in February. It was made out of a polystyerene mould, carved into a rhino shape and then coated in fibreglass. Its “bling” was created out of 80 pieces of smashed mirror and dozens of fake diamonds.

“We’re immensely proud of it and feel like proud parents but know that it now belongs to the community,” she said.

She said they had also given the rhino - which is neither male or female but gender neutral - a “heart”. This is a memory stick put inside the statue containing music, photos, videos and stories from the city’s lesbian and gay community.

The rhino has been an until-now largely abandoned gay rights symbol.

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.


Bedazzled Rhino Approved for Birmingham, UK's Gay Village

Rhino

A massive sparkling rhinoceros being considered by the Birmingham, England City Council as a monument to mark the city's gay village has been approved, the Birmingham Mail reports:

The City Council has approved the statue, which will stand on Wynner House on the corner of Bromsgove Street and Hurst Street in the city centre.

But concerns that at just 5ft and raised three storeys high it might not be seen were swiftly dismissed. Coun Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood) said: “It is too high or too small from this low vantage point.”

But chief planning officer Richard Goulborn replied: “It is decorated with diamanté mirrors and will be spotlit at night. It can’t fail to have impact.”

See our previous post for information on the rhino's history as a gay rights symbol.


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

Rhino

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.


Alabama's First Mainstream Same-Sex Wedding Announcement?

Brimingham

Our tipster Terry says this announcement from the Birmingham News is the first of its kind in mainstream Alabama media. Can anyone confirm?


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