Bay Lights team to illuminate Twin Peaks' Pink Triangle

A rendering of the planned Illuminated Pink Triangle. | Image: Courtesy of Illuminate the Pink Triangle
By Steven Bracco - Published on May 19, 2020.

While the 50th-anniversary celebration of San Francisco Pride is canceled, one bright spot has emerged — the Twin Peaks Pink Triangle will transform into a light display for its 25th anniversary.

This morning, Pink Triangle co-founder Patrick Carney announced a partnership with Illuminate — the organization behind the Bay Lights, the Conservatory of Flowers'  projection mapping display, and other projects — to install 2,700 LED nodes of pink lights on the triangle.

The effort will allow the triangle, which is usually installed by hundreds of volunteers, to be erected at a social distance for what would have been Pride weekend.

Twin Peaks' Pink Triangle. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

Every Pride weekend since 1996, the Pink Triangle, 200 feet across and visible from over 20 miles away, has adorned the eastern side of Twin Peaks.

The symbol was used to label homosexual prisoners under Nazi Germany before becoming a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride.

“It is a highly visible, yet silent reminder of inhumanity," said Carney. "It recalls one of the darkest chapters of human history, yet it has been reclaimed, to become a powerful symbol of hope, inclusion, love and resiliency."

Patrick Carney and his husband Hossein (center) with volunteers. | Photo: courtesy of Patrick Carney

The annual installation was founded by Carney and collaborators Thomas Tremblay and Michael Brown. However, since 1998, Carney's main assistants have been his husband, Hossein Carney, and sister, Colleen Hodgkins.

Carney explained the history of the project in a 2015 Hoodline interview for the 20th anniversary of the Pink Triangle:

"My friends and I were sitting in a restaurant on Market Street, wondering how we could spread the weekend's festivities to other parts of the city," he said. "We noticed a huge blank canvas right outside the window: Twin Peaks. Just a few weeks later the Pink Triangle of Twin Peaks was born."

Outline of the Pink Triangle art installation. | Photo: courtesy of Patrick Carney

The Pink Triangle consists of 175 bright pink tarps and two pieces of 200-foot by four-foot pink sail cloth. During a typical year, 300 volunteers help install the bright pink tarps, but Carney said this year's team will be far smaller, due to social distancing and shelter-in-place restrictions.

That group, including his husband and sister, will install the triangle's outline. A small team from Illuminate will then install 43 rows of metal stakes with LEDs attached.

According to Carney, the light installation will be capable of displaying animations, similar to the lights on the Bay Bridge. The partners are still in discussion about how to best use this feature.

Illuminate's 'Harvey's Halo' (2017). | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

Castro residents will recall this isn't Illuminate's first project in the neighborhood.

In 2017, Illuminate and Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza brought two art installations to the neighborhood: "Harvey's Halo," a temporary display on the roof of the SoulCycle building, and "Hope Will Never Be Silent," a permanent neon light display on the facade of the building.

“Lighting the Pink Triangle is an opportunity to honor history, inform the present, and shape a brighter, more equitable future,” said Ben Davis, founder and CEO of Illuminate.

Carney said this is the eighth time the Pink Triangle has included a lighting element. Most recently, in 2017, Obscura Digital planned to project brightly hued rainbows onto the triangle. However, due to thick fog, the equipment was turned around and instead the rainbows were projected over the Castro.

Obscura Digital's "Kisses from San Francisco" installation (2017). | Photo: courtesy of Patrick Carney

The illuminated Pink Triangle is scheduled to light up on Saturday, June 27 at 8 p.m. The triangle will stay lit for three weeks.

To help fund the work, the project's partners have created a GoFundMe page to raise $85,000. As of publication, the effort has raised over $21,000.

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