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

Honor Walk to seek funds at Castro fair

NEWS


m.bajko@ebar.com

Barnaby's World of Wonderment is a popular attraction at the Castro Street Fair, where in 2008 the Ladies of Charlie Horse did an Alice in Wonderland fantasy. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Print this Page
Send to a Friend
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on MySpace!
ADVERTISMENT

A project to create an LGBT walk of fame in the Castro is now raising donations as its organizers prepare to select the first 20 names to be displayed in sidewalk plaques in the city's gayborhood.

Known as the Rainbow Honor Walk, the project is meant to recognize the contributions of LGBT people who are often neglected in history books. It is also seen as a way to boost tourism to the city's LGBT district with the increased foot traffic benefiting local merchants.

A volunteer board has been established to oversee the project and select the first group of honorees from the more than 100 people nominated by the public. And timed to this weekend's Castro Street Fair, the project will begin accepting donations to help cover the costs for each plaque, estimated to cost upwards of $5,000, at its booth at the annual outdoor event.

The Board of Supervisors gave its initial approval to the project in March. In recent weeks the Castro's Community Benefit District agreed to be its fiscal agent while the group seeks official nonprofit status and draws up its bylaws.

About 20 local community leaders have formed a steering committee to oversee the selection of the first group of honorees and elected as co-chairs gay public relations professional David Perry and Castro business owner Isak Lindenauer. Members include Christina Velasco, principal of the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy; LGBT Community Center Executive Director Rebecca Rolfe; Steve Adams, president of the Castro merchant group; and Allan Baird, a straight ally of the LGBT community and retired Teamsters official.

The committee has narrowed down its list of potential honorees to 40 people and will be asking the public to nominate up to three people at its booth at the Castro Street Fair this Sunday, October 3.

"The Castro Street Fair is really our first opportunity for us to have input from the larger community," said Lindenauer, who has been promoting the history walk concept to community groups and leaders since early 2009.

At its meeting next month the group hopes to finalize the names of the first 20 people who will be honored with plaques in the sidewalk. The plan, as of now, is to recognize five people each along both sides of the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street.

For now, the committee is keeping the list of honorees private.

But in a recent interview with the Bay Area Reporter, Perry and Lindenauer did discuss the parameters the group has established in order to help it select the initial LGBT luminaries.

They said it was determined that only people who had declared themselves to be LGBT during their lifetimes and are now deceased would be considered. The names will not be limited only to local people.

The group is looking to draw up a list that reflects the diversity of the entire LGBT community.

"This is about the first 20 names. We want to get this process going," said Perry, who proposed a similar project during the early 1990s that failed to get off the ground. "We feel the public process has been robust and open and we are going to do more."

Lindenauer added, "The first 20 we have decided amongst ourselves it is important for us to deal with in order to make sure it starts. The challenge for us is to pick a diverse group of 20."

Also, while a mock-up of what the plaques might look like shows the name of Harvey Milk, the city's first openly gay elected official, with a rainbow-colored background, the men said the actual look of the sidewalk installations has yet to be determined.

The committee won't turn its attention to the plaque design until November, and hopes to present a concept to the city's arts commission as early as this December.

Nor is it guaranteed that Milk will be included among the first 20 names.

With Milk already memorialized with two plaques that bear his name in front of his former camera shop on Castro Street, some on the committee have questioned if it is necessary to honor him with a third plaque when it may make more sense to honor another LGBT historical figure who is less well-known, said Perry.

The same questions have come up around Leonard Matlovich, a former Castro resident and one of the first gay service members to publicly oppose the military's anti-gay policies. A plaque honoring him was installed on the building at the corner of 18th and Castro where he once lived.

"We want to take advantage of putting up names that haven't come forward already.  But it may be that Harvey and Leonard are in the top 20 when we vote," said Perry.

The men acknowledge that the committee's decision is likely to be controversial. But they stress that it is only the first phase of what they hope will be a long-lasting process to recognize numerous LGBT people.

"Certainly, we are not going to please everybody but we will do our best to get it right," said Lindenauer. "These are the first but not the last."

There will be opportunities for the public to weigh in on the committee's decisions. The arts commission meetings are open to the public, and the committee is working with Supervisor Bevan Dufty to have a public meeting about the project.

According to the resolution adopted by the supervisors, the project sponsors will need to get final approval from the board before the first plaques can be installed.

"We want as much input and assistance to make this the proudest expression of the LGBT community we can. That is our job," said Perry.

Anyone interested in joining the committee, making a donation, or nominating possible honorees should e-mail mailto:rainbowhonorwalk@gmail.com.

The Castro Street Fair takes place Sunday, October 3 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A $5 donation supporting various local nonprofits will be collected at the entrance gates.

For more information about this year's entertainment and booths, visit www.castrostreetfair.org.






Follow The Bay Area Reporter
facebook logo
facebook logo
Newsletter logo
Newsletter logo
ISSUU logo