News Briefs: Task force announces Wall of Honor inductees

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday May 17, 2023
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Activist Achebe Betty Powell, left, and actor Leslie Jordan are among several LGBTQs who will be posthumously inducted into the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor. Photos: Courtesy National LGBTQ Task Force
Activist Achebe Betty Powell, left, and actor Leslie Jordan are among several LGBTQs who will be posthumously inducted into the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor. Photos: Courtesy National LGBTQ Task Force

Gay actor Leslie Jordan and Black lesbian Achebe Betty Powell are among this year's posthumous inductees for the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City. The National LGBTQ Task Force and the International Imperial Court System formally announced the inductees May 15.

The honor wall recognizes deceased LGBTQ luminaries. This year's installation will take place Thursday, June 22, at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time, according to a news release.

The Bay Area Reporter previously reported two of this year's inductees, drag icons Heklina and Darcelle XV, would be among the class of 2023. Nicole Murray Ramirez, a Latino drag queen and San Diego community leader who helps oversee the memorial project as a member of the Imperial Court System, revealed that news to the paper in April, shortly after attending the "Drag Up! Fight Back!" march and rally in San Francisco to protest anti-LGBTQ legislation in many states.

Heklina, the drag persona of Stefan Grygelko, died April 3 in London at the age of 55. She was a former San Francisco resident who had relocated to the Palm Springs area. Darcelle XV, the drag persona of Walter Cole, was a well-known fixture in Portland, Oregon and reported to be the world's oldest living drag queen until her death March 23 at age 92.

As for the other inductees, Jordan was an Emmy Award-winning actor best known for his role as Beverley Leslie on "Will & Grace." He died last October at the age of 67.

Powell was the first Black lesbian to serve on the task force's board of directors and attended the historic meeting of gay and lesbian leaders at the Carter White House in 1977. She died in February at the age of 82.

Gay playwright Terrence McNally will also be inducted. His career spanned six decades and he was the recipient of five Tony Awards. He died in 2020 and was 81.

Pioneering gay art patron J. Frederic "Fritz" Lohman will also be inducted. With his partner, Charles Leslie, Lohman launched the first gay art space in New York City in 1969, exhibiting homoerotic art that most galleries deemed too controversial at the time. Lohman died in 2010 and was 87.

Finally, Gloria Allen, an American transgender activist, will be inducted. She ran a charm school for trans youth in Chicago's Center on Halsted. The school only lasted a few years, but it inspired a hit play, "Charm," by Philip Dawkins, and her experiences are chronicled in the documentary film, "Mama Gloria."

Murray Ramirez stated that it's important for LGBTQ people to know their history.

"I founded the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor because I believe that a community, indeed a civil rights movement, that doesn't know where it came from and whose shoulders it stands on really doesn't know where it's going," Murray Ramirez stated.

The event also coincides with the task force's 50th anniversary year.

"As we reflect on 50 years of hard-won progress we hold tight to the fact that we not only fight for rights, we fight for people," stated Kierra Johnson, a bi Black woman who's executive director of the LGBTQ civil rights organization.

SF City Hall gearing up for Pride weddings

San Francisco City Administrator Carmen Chu and the Office of the County Clerk once again invite couples to celebrate their love and tie the knot at a special LGBTQ+ Pride celebration at City Hall. The county clerk has made available extra marriage ceremony appointments on Friday, June 23, the start of Pride weekend in San Francisco.

According to a news release, couples will wed in a festive atmosphere celebrating the city's LGBTQ+ history and culture and receive special Pride souvenir marriage licenses. Wedding parties will be invited to take pictures in a photo booth set up in the North Light Court of City Hall.

The county clerk's office has played a role in the actions city government has taken toward equality for people of all genders and orientations, the release stated. In 2004, of course, the clerk's office issued the first same-sex marriage license to now-deceased lesbian pioneers Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin. While those "Winter of Love" marriages were eventually voided by the state, in 2013, after same-sex marriage in California became legal thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court upholding lower court opinions that Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban, was unconstitutional, the clerks' office stayed open throughout the weekend so that couples could wed.

Reservations for the upcoming marriage ceremonies can be made here. New appointments for Friday, June 23, will become available on Friday, May 26. Appointments are expected to fill up quickly, the release stated. The fee for a marriage ceremony is $98. For more information, including complete requirements for marriage ceremonies, click on the link above or call 311.

Support Meals on Wheels through silent auction

Meals on Wheels San Francisco's annual Star Chefs and Vintners Gala on Sunday, May 21, is sold out but people can still help raise funds by participating in the online silent auction. A news release stated that the event, including live and silent auctions, raises one-third of the nonprofit's budget providing nearly 700,000 meals for seniors in need.

"With the end of pandemic relief funding, including the extra emergency government funds for CalFresh, many seniors are now at a loss on how they'll be able to afford nutritious meals without the extra money they have counted on for the last two years," stated David Linnell, acting CEO of MOWSF.

While the World Health Organization recently announced that COVID is no longer a global emergency, Linnell noted, "the number of older adults in need of food and wellness services coming out of the pandemic continues to grow, and that means events like our gala are crucial in helping us raise the funds needed to keep seniors fed."

In 2022, MOWSF prepared and delivered 2.6 million meals to the homes of more than 5,400 older adults living in San Francisco and northern San Mateo counties and provided more than 284,000 wellness visits, the release stated.

To take part in the online silent auction, go to

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