The Stonewall Inn, on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, became the epicenter of the modern gay rights movement 50 years ago, when riots broke out after years of police raids. Just a block and a half away, the road intersects with Gay Street, a happy coincidence that results in a popular and photogenic street sign.
But the fight for civil rights has expanded beyond just gays and lesbians over the decades, and “Gay Street” might not fully encompass the range of identities involved in the movement. A new initiative from Mastercard attempts to rectify that.
In a partnership with New York City’s Human Rights Commission, the brand and its agency McCann XBC commissioned additional street signs from the same company that builds official signs for the city to transform Gay Street into "Acceptances Street." In descending order below the “Gay St” sign now hangs a fittingly rainbow-colored litany of identities: Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Nonbinary, Pansexual and Two Spirit. Beneath it all, a black “+” sign acknowledges that there are still others not included in the list above.
In addition to a series of signs, Mastercard has undertaken a project to help people whose identities may not match the ones they were assigned at birth use credit cards more easily. The process of a legal name change can be both difficult and expensive, and not everyone has the means or the opportunity to petition the courts. That means presenting a credit card can be an uncomfortable, even potentially dangerous situation for many people.
Mastercard’s “True Name” project aims to find a secure, non-invasive way to let people choose names other than their legal ones to appear on credit and debit cards, and it is currently working with the city’s Human Rights Commission to figure out the details.