JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After facing scrutiny for turning off the rainbow lights during Pride Month last year, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority lit up the bridge on Monday night.
JTA will light Jacksonville’s Acosta Bridge in rainbow colors to recognize June as Pride Month until June 10. The city’s Bicentennial colors will be on display June 11 and 12.
The decision last year to display colors for Pride Month prompted the Florida Department of Transportation to tell the city that the rainbow lighting scheme was “out of compliance,” prompting JTA to extinguish the lights.
The News4JAX I-TEAM uncovered records showing that the transportation department made the decision to alert JTA after the office fielded five phone calls from Jacksonville citizens complaining about the lights.
A day later, after intense public outcry from LGBTQ rights activists, the state reversed its decision and the pride lights were turned back on.
News4JAX asked the Florida Department of Transportation on Friday if there would be any compliance issues this year but did not receive an immediate reply.
Activists hosted a pride march across the Acosta Bridge last year to protest the controversial decision by the state.
The march is now an annual tradition, with another one set to happen on Sunday, June 12.
Cindy Nobles leads the Jacksonville chapter of PFLAG, an LGBTQ advocacy organization. She says celebrating Pride Month is a city-wide recognition that’s important for everyone.
“It shows that we are moving toward inclusivity and acceptance for everyone and that’s going to make this a better city,” Nobles said.
Nobles recalls the Florida Department of Transportation’s order on the lights last year as “very disheartening.”
“Of all the months to choose to have an issue with the color scheme. It felt very targeted, and it was upsetting, but they fixed it. They rectified it and we’re trying to move past it this year,” Nobles said.
Although the State of Florida has faced many challenges this year when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues, for Nobles, the bridge lights next week will serve as a signal that progress is still underway.
“For me as a parent, I am a parent of a fantastic LGBTQ+ kid, and I will bring him past here to look at this bridge and let him know that he is being celebrated for who he is,” said Nobles.