DIY Rainbow and its founder continues to unite and inspire
The DIY Rainbow movement continues to inspire people around the world. Its founder, James Brechney, recently visited Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California, to share the rainbow story. By Cec Busby.
When James ‘Breko’ Brechney started his DIY rainbow campaign in protest of the removal of Oxford Street’s colourful rainbow crossing in 2013, little did he know a year later he would be jetting off to California to chalk a giant rainbow at the very organisation that helped facilitate the movement.
Last week, Brechney travelled to the US as a guest of social media giant Facebook to take part in the company’s gay pride festivities, including marching with Facebook employees at San Francisco Pride.
It was a whirlwind few days for the Sydney local, who rose to fame after chalking a rainbow crossing in his back lane in Surry Hills over a year ago. Soon after posting an image of that chalked crossing on Facebook, hundreds of other chalk rainbows quickly sprung around Sydney and later, the world. The word spread thanks to a page on Facebook, 'DIY Rainbow'.
The DIY Rainbow page has now attracted more than 57,000 likes and has inspired rainbow crossings as far afield as New Zealand, Thailand, France and Germany.
This year, Facebook is marking its tenth anniversary, and to celebrate, the social media behemoth chose ten pages that highlighted how Facebook can mobilise change. Among the ten was Brechney and DIY Rainbow.
“DIY Rainbow was the youngest page, the only gay page and the only Australian page included in the mix,” Brechney tells SX.
Brechney said when Pride month approached, he got the call from Facebook to visit their headquarters. “They thought it would be a fun idea to bring me across to Palo Alto to chalk a rainbow with the Facebook Stories team.”
Brechney was happy to oblige, after all he credits Facebook as being integral to the success of DIY Rainbow. “The way in which DIY Rainbow went viral would not have been possible without the Facebook platform and I'm so chuffed they've requested my chalking expertise to show them how it's done!”
Whilst at Facebook Brechney was given the grand tour, and mingled with many of the company’s creatives. He even spied Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg hard at work, albeit through glass doors. “His office is based in front of the main quadrangle and whilst you're not supposed to take photos of him, you can see him going about his daily routine and chatting to executives and so forth.”
Brechney said what really impressed him most was Facebook’s commitment to equality.
“What blew me away was the way in which Facebook embraced Pride month. Rainbow staircases, rainbow flags and Pride posters were everywhere. Over 1000 Facebook employees marched under Facebook's banner at Pride.”
Now back from his whistlestop tour Brechney’s DIY rainbow quest continues. Later this month he will attend AIDS 2014 to chalk a rainbow and come August he’ll be activating the movement with a rainbow for City to Surf.
He says in a way the removal of the rainbow crossing at Taylor Square was a blessing in disquise. “It was almost a gift in a way as it’s become so much bigger than that. The chalking and the DIY mentality has born a whole movement that anyone can do in the world and DIY Rainbow gives a lot of hope to a lot of people.”
Visit the DIY Rainbow Facebook page at facebook.com/DIYrainbow.
Also check out DIY Rainbow at facebookstories.com/10.
GALLERY: Check out photos from James Brechney's tour of Facebook HQ, as well as San Francisco Pride. Photos: Isabella Hiew. View the full gallery here