Less than two years since 20 historic members of the LGBT were memorialized by bronze plaques in the sidewalks of San Francisco’s Castro District, the all volunteer Rainbow Honor Walk (www.rainbowhonorwalk.org) has announced 24 new honorees.
“LGBT history is world history,” said Rainbow Honor Walk Co-Founder and Board President David Perry. “These 24 individuals represent real battles fought during their lifetimes for equality, equity and justice. They are symbols to hold up to future generations so that we may learn from them and continue their work.”
The Rainbow Honor Walk salutes the groundbreaking achievements of noted LGBT persons throughout history.
Following are the second 24 honorees for inclusion on the Rainbow Honor Walk:
• Alvin Ailey (1931-1989) Gay American ballet dancer and choreographer credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th-century concert dance.
• W.H. Auden (1907-1973) Gay English poet known for love poems such as “Funeral Blues,” poems on political and social themes such as “September 1, 1939,” and poems on cultural and psychological themes such as “The Age of Anxiety.”
• Josephine Baker (1906-1975) Bisexual American-born French dancer, jazz and pop music singer, actress, and world-famous entertainer who refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States. She was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou (1934).
• Gladys Bentley (1907-1960) Lesbian American pianist, singer, and performer during the Harlem Renaissance whose comical, sweet, and risqué performances included songs about her female lovers.
• Glenn Burke (1952-1995) First openly gay major league baseball player who was discriminated against by Major League Baseball and whose raised hand, after a home run, led to the invention of the high five.
• Quentin Crisp (1908-1999) Gay English writer and raconteur whose flamboyance attracted increasing public interest in his views about social manners and the cultivating of style.
• Divine (1945-1988) Gay American singer and actor specializing in female roles made famous by director John Waters.
• Marie Equi (1872-1952) Lesbian American physician and political activist devoted to providing care to working-class and poor patients, providing health care information to women, and fighting for civic and economic reforms, women’s right to vote and an eight-hour workday.
• Fereydoun Farrokhzad (1938-1992) Gay Iranian singer, actor, poet, TV and radio host, writer, and iconic opposition political figure who advocated for an open society that accepted all people.
• Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) Noted American politician and civil rights leader widely considered to be the first open lesbian elected to Congress, representing Texas in the House of Representatives.
• Kiyoshi Kuromiya (1943-2000) Japanese-American civil rights activist, founder of the Critical Path Project, one of the earliest and most comprehensive sources of HIV treatment information.
• Audre Lorde (1934-1992) Lesbian American writer, radical feminist, and political activist whose works expressed anger and outrage at civil and social injustices she observed throughout her life.
• Leonard Matlovich (1943-1988) Decorated American soldier, widely recognized as the first to challenge the U.S. military’s ban on homosexuals serving in the armed forces.
• Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) Bisexual British singer, songwriter, record producer and lead performer with the rock group Queen.
• Sally Ride (1951-2012) Lesbian, physicist and first American female astronaut in space.
• Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002) American transgender activist and founder of the Gay Activist Alliance.
• Vito Russo (1946-1990) Gay American film historian, activist and author of The Celluloid Closet that brought awareness to LGBT characterizations in film.
• José Sarria (1922-2013) Political activist, the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States and founder of the Imperial Court system.
• Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) Gay American illustrator and author of children’s books, best known for Where the Wild Things Are.
• Rikki Streicher (1926-1994) Lesbian American political activist and founder of the Gay Games Federation.
• Gerry Studds (1937-2006) American politician and the first openly gay member of the U.S. Congress.
• Lou Sullivan (1951-1991) American author, activist, and female to male transgender pioneer who is widely credited for the modern understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity as distinct, unrelated concepts.
• Chavela Vargas (1919-2012) Lesbian Costa Rican-born singer known for her rendition of Mexican rancheras and for her contribution to other genres of popular Latin American music.
• We’wha (1849-1896) Zuni Native American Two-Spirit/Mixed Gender Tribal Leader who was male-bodied but performed primarily “feminine” tasks as well as serving as a mediator.
“Our hope as a board is that people from around the world will walk the Rainbow Honor Walk and take away inspiration and education,” said Perry. “Some of these names are well-known. Some are barely known. All deserve to be known.”
The Rainbow Honor Walk Board is comprised of the following individuals:
Kathy Amendola, Peter Goss, Madeline Hancock, Karen Helmuth, Ben Leong, Bill Lipsky, David Perry, Joe Robinson, Charlie Roddy, Charlotte Ruffner, Donna Sachet, Gustavo Serina, Kendall Stulce, Barbara Tannenbaum, Tarita Thomas, Colton Windsor.
Envisioning the Rainbow Honor Walk, a volunteer committee of community members received the unanimous support of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to create the sidewalk monument. Comprised of 3 foot x 3 foot bronze plaques embedded in the sidewalk, the Walk salutes the groundbreaking achievements of noted LGBT individuals throughout history. The first 20 honorees were announced in 2011. In 2012 the Rainbow Honor Walk board solicited design proposals from around the world. An independent jury of artists and cultural leaders selected the winning design by architect Carlos Casuso of Madrid, Spain. The plaques were manufactured by Mussi Artworks of Berkeley, California with creative oversight of the process spearheaded by Lawrence Noble, head of the sculpture department at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. The first 20 plaques were installed in September 2014.
The Rainbow Honor Walk will eventually extend from the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy on 19th Street at Diamond down to Castro Street—the LGBT community’s “Main Street”—and will continue up Market Street with additional extensions on 18th Street. On Market Street, San Francisco’s main thoroughfare, the Walk will continue to the LGBT Center at Octavia Boulevard.
All funds for manufacture of the Rainbow Honor Walk are raised privately, with each plaque costing approximately $5000. A major source of income comes from the San Francisco Human Rights Campaign Action Center and Store (575 Castro Street) through the sale of commemorative mugs, t-shirts and lapel pins, which has generated over $15,000 for the Rainbow Honor Walk.
“We would not be walking the walk today without the donations of hundreds of people from all over the world and the continuing efforts of our friends at HRC,” said Perry, noting that tax deductible donations can be made online at www.rainbowhonor.org. Donors are listed on the website.
The first 20 honorees, whose plaques were installed in September 2014, are:
• Jane Addams (1860-1935), Social worker, first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, 1931.
• James Baldwin (1924-87), American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, civil rights activist.
• George Choy (1960 — 93) : San Francisco activist for Asian and Pacific Islander youth and people with AIDS.
• Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936), Spanish poet, playwright, political activist.
• Allen Ginsberg (1926-97), American poet. San Francisco Beat poet/ Free speech activist.
• Keith Haring (1958-90), American artist and AIDS activist.
• Harry Hay (1912-2002), English born writer, gay rights activist. Founder of The Mattachine Society, 1950.
• Christine Jorgensen (1926-89), Pre-eminent American transgender pioneer and advocate.
• Frida Kahlo (1907-54), Mexican artist whose work has been celebrated as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition.
• Del Martin (1921-2008), American feminist, gay rights activist. Founder Daughters of Bilitis.
• Yukio Mishima (nee Kimitake Hiraoka, 1925-70), Japanese playwright, poet, actor, film director.
• Bayard Rustin (1912-87), American civil rights leader.
• Randy Shilts (1951-94), San Francisco journalist, biographer.
• Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), American novelist, essayist, playwright.
• Sylvester (1947-88), American disco star, soul singer, San Francisco performer.
• Alan Turing (1912-54), British scientist who broke the Nazi’s Enigma Code and father of the modern computer, cryptanalyst, logician, mathematician.
• Tom Waddell (1937-87), American athlete, physician, founder of the Gay Games.
• Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish playwright, poet, novelist, essayist.
• Tennessee Williams (1911-83), American dramatist, poet, novelist.
• Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), English novelist, essayist, publisher.
Individuals interested in contacting the Rainbow Honor Walk may do so by email at [email protected] or by mail to Rainbow Honor Walk, 584 Castro Street, #113
San Francisco, California 94114.
Contact can also be made via Facebook by searching “Rainbow Honor Walk”. Information can also be found online, and donations made, through the Rainbow Honor Walk website at www.rainbowhonorwalk.org.