New Rainbow Honor Walk Honors Queer Women In Bronze

Sep 8, 2014 by

New Rainbow Honor Walk Honors Queer Women In Bronze

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Changes are underfoot around the Castro neighborhood from new buildings to the newly unveiled Rainbow Honor Walk that was revealed September 2.

It was a warm sunny day in San Francisco when Girls That Roam toured the Castro to check out the new bronze plaques honoring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have made extraordinary contributions to art, culture, history, science and more.

The 20 bronze plaques line Castro Street starting with Jane Addams, the mother of social work and the first woman honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, right after Marcello’s Pizza upon exiting the Castro Street Station leading up the 400 and 500 blocks and on a portion of 19th Street.

Five women – four lesbians and one transgender woman – are included in the initial plaques that make up the walk that has been a vision in the works for two decades.

The first women unveiled include Jane, along with the first transgender woman to publicly undergo gender reassignment surgery Christine Jorgensen, bisexual Mexican artists Frida Kahlo, lesbian activists and longtime San Franciscan Del Martin, American lesbian writer Gertrude Stein, and modernist bisexual author Virginia Woolf.

The mother of Social Work and the first woman to be honored with a Nobel Peace Prize, Jane Addams, who lived with two of her lifelong girlfriends while building and operating Hull House, a place that aided the poor by proving education, food, and shelter in Chicago. (Photo: Heather Cassell)

The mother of Social Work and the first woman to be honored with a Nobel Peace Prize, Jane Addams, who lived with two of her lifelong girlfriends while building and operating Hull House, a place that aided the poor by proving education, food, and shelter in Chicago. (Photo: Heather Cassell)

“How cool is it to start the Rainbow Honor Walk off with the FIRST American woman to get a Nobel Prize?” says Kathy Amendola, owner of Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours, in spite of it being a fluke that the walk starts off with Jane and an ethnically diverse array of members of the LGBT community. Kathy points out that the first plaques were laid out in alphabetical order.

A Vision Long In Coming

The first members of the LGBT community who have made a significant contribution to society are a very diverse selection to demark the pathways throughout the neighborhood, one which has been criticized for its lack of diversity, racism and sexism in the past.

“At last, these wonderful women and men, pioneers of life and members of our LGBTQ community are being honored in this every day, public manner. The walk starts!!!” writes gay Castro business owner Isak Lindenauer, who put the dream of the walk into action, in a Facebook post thanking everyone who participated in the project.

Kathy, who was the first female board member of the RHW committee, agrees.

“There’s a huge significance in including women,” says Kathy, citing the mission of the RHW is to “present multi-sexual, multi-gender and multi-cultural spectrum of human history.”

“The ‘walk,’ projects the progression of the LGBT culture, which can no longer remain, ‘invisible,’” says Kathy.

“To learn [about] how many people in history that were sexually fluid and actually made huge differences in human history is something to be very proud of,” says Kathy.

Hundreds of names of individuals from Sappho to current history have been collected by the walk’s organizers, adds Kathy, who has incorporated the RHW in her walking tour of the Castro throughout the project’s development.

Transgender activists, Christine Jorgensen, the first openly transgender woman to publicly undergo sex reassignment surgery. The plaque shows the typo and style and usage mistake in the bronze plaque honoring Christine outside of For Your Eyes Only, optical shop. (Photo: Heather Cassell)

Transgender activists, Christine Jorgensen, the first openly transgender woman to publicly undergo sex reassignment surgery. The plaque shows the typo and style and usage mistake in the bronze plaque honoring Christine outside of For Your Eyes Only, optical shop. (Photo: Heather Cassell)

This October she is launching Rainbow Honor Walk Tours, a tour that will focus specifically on the plaques and LGBT people throughout history.

The more than $110,000 project supported by corporate sponsors, individual donors, and sales from RHW mugs and pins at the Human Rights Campaign store located in the assassinated first openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk’s former camera shop, was brought to life by Isak, reports the Bay Area Reporter.

Each plaque cost an estimated $5,000 and has a protective coat over them to guard it from dirt and graffiti. The RHW committee is also responsible for maintaining the plaques, reports the newspaper.

Isak proposed the project in 2009. Public relations professional and host of Ten Percent on Comcast Cable David Perry, who also envisioned a similar project jumped on board after years of his vision hadn’t blossomed into fruition.

Girls Take Pride

Girls That Roam weren’t the only women stepping out to see the great women and men of our community who have been emblazoned into the walkway of San Francisco’s gayborhood to honor them for speaking out openly and truthfully about who we are and blazing a path for LGBT rights.

We ran into former San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Prozan, her wife, attorney Julia Adams, and their friend who were also cruising the Castro admiring and criticizing the plaques.

San Francisco lesbian activists Del Martin outside of Spikes on 19th Street off of Castro Street. (Photo: Heather Cassell)

San Francisco lesbian activists Del Martin outside of Spikes on 19th Street off of Castro Street. (Photo: Heather Cassell)

The women say they appreciate and enjoy the plaques, but like many people they are perturbed by the multiple grammatical errors from typos to misplaced or dropped commas and periods in a majority of the plaques. For example, the much mentioned in the media Christine’s typo and improper style usage “trangendered” in the brief description. There should have been an “s” in what was meant to be “transgender.” There is no such word as “transgendered.” Del’s plaque is the only one that is completed with a period, they point out.

The incorrect plaques will be replaced, free of charge, by the manufacturer, Mussi Artworks of Berkeley, California, reports the B.A.R.

The LGBT community will soon be able to vote on the next 20 outstanding queer community members to be memorialized in bronze in the next set of plaques selected by the RHW committee by the end of this year.

Organizers anticipate adding 20 plaques annually. Eventually, the plaques will stretch down Market Street from Castro Street to Octavia Boulevard, ending at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center.

Learn more about the Rainbow Honor Walk at RainbowHonorWalk.org.

To book your Sapphic Adventure to San Francisco, contact Heather Cassell at Girls That Roam Travel at Travel Advisors of Los Gatos at 408-354-6531at or .

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