Long before the Village Committee existed, Wilde’s owner Rob Giacobbi flew five rainbow flags atop the mixed commercial space that hosts his Bank and Frank streets shop.
But in the next few months, the Village Committee plans to add an additional set of Oscar Wilde-theme banners, six in tota.
In the meantime, Wilde’s and the Village have already freshened up the flags.
“We replaced five flags that were faded and torn on the top of Wilde’s roof. We just wanted them to be visible and bright again, and look fresh and clean,” says Glenn Crawford, Village Initiative chair. “The flags were something we offered as a first step in beautification of that building.”
Wilde’s and the Village decided on six Oscar Wilde banners is so that each flag accentuates the six rainbow colours.
“We’re hoping to have those installed within the next couple of months. We’ve chosen six, one for each predominant colour of the rainbow. It’s been an ongoing project for a year. We’re finally getting this happening,” says Crawford.
Currently, the Village has 21 flags. Crawford says since Wilde’s flags replaced pre-existing flags, the area’s number hasn’t changed. But over the past three years, the Village tripled the area’s flag count, from seven flags in the area (five at Wilde’s, one at the Inn on Somerset and another at Abiwin Co-op.) Also, another five locations recently installed wide rainbow-striped decals across their storefront windows.
“We are the centre of the Village. The project we’re working on will add more than that,” says Giacobbi. “We want the banners over the sidewalks rather than being flat on the building.”
As for waiting for Bank St BIA approval to brand the street, Giacobbi says it’s better to just do it. He says the businesses along the street are doing a good enough job letting the public know their flavour anyway.
“I’ve always been in a frame of mind to not wait for people’s approval,” says Giacobbi.
Around the corner, the Village is hatching another plan: a gay history mural located on the Gilmour side of Wilde’s building.
Crawford says the public art project should be unveiled sometime this summer, featuring historical photographs, inspirational quotes and a painted mural. Crawford says the mural project will mark the 40th anniversary of the 1971 We Demand gay and lesbian protest on Parliament Hill.
“The [We Demand] protest was a landmark and historic protest. We were fighting for basic human rights. In 1969, homosexuality was decriminalized, but there were still persecutions, people being fired. It’s been a very important process going through archival photos,” says Crawford.
“This mural will celebrate our culture and educate people on how far we’ve come and how much we have to fight for in terms of human rights. Trans rights are still an ongoing issue in that list of demands we’re continuing to fight for.”
“We’re trying to nurture and grow this area,” he adds. “We want to honour and showcase our area.”
Giacobbi says his customers and neighbours have been very supportive of the Village initiatives around the building. Wilde’s has the same landlord as One in Ten, where three rainbow flags now shoot out into the street.
“The mural will add vibrancy and enhance Pride. It will give a story behind the flags. When you look back 40 years, you realize you forgot something. It’ll make a statement,” says Giacobbi.