Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

Castro resident
proposes Rainbow Honor Walk

NEWS


s.hemmelgarn@ebar.com

Isak Lindenauer, left, and Allan Baird display a mock-up for the proposed Rainbow Honor Walk. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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A man who has been a resident and merchant in the predominantly gay Castro neighborhood for more than 30 years is proposing a Rainbow Honor Walk to memorialize the contributions of LGBT individuals.

Isak Lindenauer, who is gay and owns an antique shop on 19th Street, has presented his idea to the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro and other community members, and said that so far the response has been encouraging.

The way Lindenauer, 63, imagines it, the sidewalk memorial would feature rainbow plaques honoring LGBTs such as Harvey Milk; Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, the pioneering couple who were the first same-sex couple to marry in San Francisco; tennis legend Billie Jean King; writer James Baldwin; and Representative Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts).

Lindenauer thinks the memorial would bring much-needed business to the area, while educating people about LGBT history.

"As people walk through our neighborhood, they will see these names on the sidewalks and while looking will inevitably stop in stores to shop or restaurants to eat," he said in his remarks to the merchants group on Thursday, March 5.

Lindenauer has enlisted the help of his neighbor, Allan Baird, a longtime straight ally of the LGBT community. Baird, a retired Teamsters official, worked with Milk on the Coors boycott and supported Milk's run for supervisor.

The plaques could be located on parts of Castro, Market, 18th and 19th streets. Much of the area's sidewalks are due to be widened as part of the neighborhood beautification and safety plan, and that's seen as a good opportunity to install the plaques.

In his speech to the merchants group, which a slightly nervous Lindenauer read from a printout – "I'm not used to speaking in public," he said – he spoke of coming to the Castro from Berkeley "to be free" and witnessing the history that took place in the neighborhood, from the time when Milk walked the area's streets, through the early years of AIDS, "with people dead and dying in every apartment here." In the last decade, he said, the area has seen new shops and a new generation of people.

Steve Adams, president of the Castro merchant group, said the sidewalk memorial is an "awesome idea" and he'd like "to get it done sooner, rather than later."

The tourist impact would be "incredible," he said.

Andrea Aiello, executive director of the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District, the group overseeing the beautification plan, said in an e-mail that Lindenauer's idea was "enthusiastically received" when he presented it to the board, but there wasn't an official vote on it. Aiello wrote that no research has been done yet to determine how much the Rainbow Honor Walk might cost.

Funding would most likely have to come from a campaign that could possibly include grants, private money, city funding, or a mix of sources, according to Aiello.

She also said in her e-mail that the memorial "will most certainly have to be a very community oriented process, with a very diverse committee overseeing the entire process ... the appropriate city agencies and officials will also have to be involved for this to really become a reality."

Lindenauer has established an e-mail address where people can send input: rainbowhonorwalk@gmail.com.

The full text of his speech to the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro is available at www.castromerchants.com.






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