The L.A. County Board of Supervisors yesterday voted to preserve indefinitely the art installation originally known as the Venice Pride Flag Lifeguard Tower.
The installation by local artists Patrick Marston and Michael Brunt was unveiled June 1 to celebrate LGBT Pride Month, Venice Pride and the naming of the adjacent beach for the late local Bill Rosendahl, the first openly gay man elected to the City Council.
The installation was scheduled to expire Sept. 8 and return to its normal pale blue, but actor-activist Colin Campbell, citing renewed attacks on the LGBTQ community by the far right and by the Trump administration, started a Change.org petition to maintain the county tower at the foot of Brooks Avenue as a rainbow-colored structure.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who in 1994 became the first openly gay person elected to California’s Legislature, sponsored the measure to maintain the tower's paint scheme and to name it the Bill Rosendahl Memorial Lifeguard Tower. The county has lifeguard jurisdiction over most L.A. beaches.
“At a moment when human rights for many communities in this country are under threat, this dramatic artistic and political statement on Venice Beach offers people in Los Angeles a clear statement of inclusion,” she said in a statement.
Kuehl's motion to permanently maintain the color scheme describes the artwork as a “wrapping” and states that the county will work with the nonprofit Venice Pride to “allow” the rainbow look to live on indefinitely.
Campbell argued in his petition that the tower should remain as is because it had become an Instagram fixture used to “broadcast its powerful message of equality and inclusion to millions across the globe.” He said late yesterday that he had sought 10,000 signatures in support of saving the tower. He got nearly 11,000.
“It's a symbol of Venice Pride,” he says. “It's also a symbol of Bill Rosendahl. It's on his beach. It's a great tribute to him.”
He argues that monuments such as this lifeguard tower are needed more than ever, particularly on a far Westside that's not as gay-friendly, perhaps, as it once was. (Locals have been lamenting last year's closing of the 37-year-old Roosterfish gay bar on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.)
“I really do think that, with this current administration, LGBTQ rights are coming to the forefront again,” Campbell says. “It's very disturbing. It's time for us to raise our visibility. The struggle is really not over for us.”