December in Austria is all about light displays. Stars. Trees. Cupids. Snowflakes. Chandeliers. Every city, village, shop window, and hotel lobby glows with the anticipation of Christmas.
But as I’ve added silver and golden images to my phone’s photo gallery, and Instagrammed my way through Vienna, Linz, and Salzburg, another type of light display has caught my eye – the walk/wait lights that recognize it’s not only heterosexual people who cross the street in couples.
The lights were installed first in Vienna in 2015 as a temporary fixture when the city hosted several LGBTQ-related events: pairs of men and women with hands and hearts linked, striding along with their heterosexual counterparts.The Austrian right wing party saw red, and threatened to take criminal action against the female council member responsible for Vienna’s traffic issues.
But you can’t hold a good woman down – or, in this case, pairs of good women and men. The lights eventually became permanent in Vienna, and sauntered into Linz and Salzburg as well.
Long after the Christmas displays have been doused by the gloom of January, Austrian intersections will continue to blaze red and green trails of light and love.