Shiny Thing

For Birmingham UK, Nothing Says “Welcome to the Gay Village” Like a Big Rhinestone-Encrusted Rhino

The UK’s second biggest city, Birmingham, is prepping a brand new symbol to welcome visitors to its Gay Village: a four-foot-high rhinoceros, studded in hundreds of rhinestones.

The statue, being built by artists Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges, is meant both to be a nod to the “Bullring Bull” that graces Birmingham’s financial district, and to be a symbol of LGBT strength, as used by the Gay Liberation Front in the U.S. in the 1970s (news to us, but see the purple rhinoceros info at the LGBT symbols wiki).

“The Rhino is a proud and stubborn creature, and symbolizes the gay community’s refusal to tolerate homophobia and its fight against injustice,” says the project’s official site.

When complete, the rhino (which already has its own Facebook page) will go on top of the Wynner House at the corner of Bromsgrove Street and Hurst Street, home to the city’s LGBT pride organization.

“The gay village is such a vibrant part of [Birmingham’s] Southside,” said Julia Chance, manager of the area’s business improvement district. “We were keen to mark out this gateway to the village with a landmark that would properly celebrate the area’s diversity and importance to the city.”

Chance said funds for the project, estimated at £15,000 (about $24,000), are coming from a combination of private, public, and charitable organizations.

A local news report, critical of the public funding aspect, has labeled the Rhino a “diamante-studded bling beast.”

It’s hoped that the shiny odd-toed ungulate will be finished in time for Birmingham Pride on June 2 and 3.

Image via Facebook