Thanks to some dazzling technical artistry, a striking double rainbow will be shining a light on both the start of PRIDE Month and the continuing need for LGBTQIA+ advocacy at the Crossroads of the World throughout June. 

Times Square Polar Rainbow
Polar Rainbow can be viewed with an app above Times Square during PRIDE month. Photo: Gino Hawley

A collaboration between Times Square Arts, curator Corina L Apostol, and Latvian-British artist Kristaps Ancāns, Polar Rainbow is an augmented reality sculpture that stretches two gigantic projected rainbows down the 74 meridian west line of Times Square through 7th Avenue.

Inspired by the lack of rainbows at both the North and South poles, Ancāns has implanted the prisms of light at the world’s most populous meridian. The project also takes inspiration from the 1989 “Baltic Chain of Freedom”, in which approximately two million people across 430 miles of  Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania linked arms to peacefully protest Soviet Union rule.

“Historically, standing for human rights has emerged from different local contexts; since then, we have developed new technologies, and created tools of inspiration and support that can globally unite communities. The rainbow uniting both poles reminds us of the challenges that persist and, at the same time, that the arc of temporality can bring lasting change,” said Ancāns.

PRIDE Playbills Times Square
Playbills on display in Times Square have taken on PRIDE colors this month. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Added Times Square Arts Director Jean Cooney: “Times Square has long been a space of both protest and celebration for LGBTQIA rights, and Kristaps Ancāns’ Polar Rainbow brings a timely and uplifting reminder that the ongoing pursuit of justice and equity requires global unity.” 

But you’ll have to go searching for the rainbow. Look out for a special lightbox and accompanying QR code to access the augmented reality projection. Once in, you can snap shots and share your own digital postcards with the hashtag #polarrainbow.

The projected prism is not the only PRIDE celebration in Times Square — the Broadway Grand Gallery, currently displaying large standalone Playbills throughout the thoroughfare, will display special PRIDE-themed programs through June 15.

Looking to center yourself during a busy PRIDE month? Check out the 20th Anniversary “Solstice in Times Square: Mind Over Madness Yoga” on June 21. The free celebration features seven yoga classes held from sunrise to sunset for participants to join (and live streaming for those at home!). 

The TSQ Alliance and Playbill have a full program of events from June 24 to June 26, including interactive double decker PRIDE buses and a PRIDE: 365 Live! celebration, featuring panels and singalong performances from the cast and creatives of various Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, the Ali Forney Center, Austin Artists Project,  GLAAD, the  National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. And if you’re inspired to join in, fear not — there’s a Sing For Hope open air piano bar hosted by as-yet unannounced theatrical stars! 

Wrapping up the weekend on Saturday June 25, put on your dancing shoes and head over to the TSQ Big Broadway Disco, a showtunes-meets-seventies free dance party centered around the Playbill PRIDE float. Be sure to keep an eye out for surprise appearances from Main Stem stars and wear your grooviest outfit!

Solstice Yoga Times Square
Solstice in Times Square will have its 20th Anniversary this year. Photo supplied.

Until then, head over to Times Square before the end of the month, when we’ll have to say goodbye, yellow brick road! 

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