With the Legacy Walk dedication ceremony just a week awayon Oct. 11, National Coming Out Dayconcerns have been raised about the look of the rainbow pylons ahead of the installation of the inductees' bronze plaques. The plaques are scheduled to be installed Oct. 4-7.
Minor damage has been reported on a number of the 14-year-old pylons ranging from missing paint and long multiple scratches to the painted surface, graffiti and an unlit pylon at 3600 N. Halsted St.
According to Bennett Lawson, Ald. Tom Tunney's chief of staff, the Northalsted Business Allianceas the managers of Special Service Area 18 (SSA)is responsible for maintaining and cleaning the rainbow pylons throughout the year.
Jay Lyon, executive director of the Northalsted Business Alliance, said, "We will make an extra effort to check and clean each pylon ahead of the dedication ceremony because we want the pylons to be something that the neighborhood is proud of."
"We are working to resolve the one unlit pylon with the Bureau of Electricity. This spot at 3600 N. Halsted is going to be redeveloped into LGBT-friendly senior housing and the pylon will likely be removed and then re-installed by the contractor (similar to when the Center was built)," said Lawson. Lyon noted that the Northalsted Business Alliance has been in contact with Tunney's office to get this corrected prior to the dedication ceremony next week.
Victor Salvo, executive director of the Legacy Walk, said, "We met with the alliance months ago to discuss the general maintenance of the pylons as well as the long-term plans for the upkeep of the pylons and I am confident that everything will be addressed."
As for the long term rehab of pylons, Lawson said, "The discussion has not come up but it would be a more involved discussion with the SSA, Chicago Department of Transportation and both aldermen, Tunney and [the 46th Ward's] James Cappleman. They were part of the first streetscape in the city in 1998, and are technically still city property."
The dedication ceremony will take place along Halsted Street and at the Boystown bar Sidetrack. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Tunney and singer-songwriter Matt Alber are among the invited guests.
Dignitaries will also be attending on behalf of a number of the inductees including Dr. Wilhelmina Perry, partner of Dr. Antonia Pantoja; Walter Naegle, partner of civil-rights pioneer Bayard Rustin; Michael Bedwell of the Leonard Matlovich estate, who will be escorting the Matlovich family; Nathen Steininger, representing the Two Spirit Nations of North America; Dr. Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Dr. Margaret Chung's biographer; Anne Moore from the University of Massachusetts, representing Barbara Gittings' partner, Kay Lahusen; and Vernard Gilmore, principal dancer of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
"I am pleased to be able to celebrate the induction of my partner, Dr. Antonia Pantoja, into the Legacy Walk. Over her lifetime, she received many distinguished awards for her public work. This recognition is particularly important and special because it truly honors who she was as a person and how she lived her personal life," said Perry.
"Chicago's Legacy Walk is a unique and important milestone in acknowledging the contributions of the LGBTQ community to world history," Naegle said. "The accomplishments of the diverse range of people represented here will be both educational and inspirational to all, but particularly to young people who have been denied LGBTQ role models for so long."
"I am honored and excited to participate in the Legacy Walk dedication. It is such a great project and really special to see Barbara honored in Chicago, since it was her year at Northwestern that energized her to become a gay activist," said Moore.
"Chicago held a special place in Leonard's heart because some of the strongest early supporters of his fight against the Air Force were from there such as Chuck Renslow, Jim Flint, Guy Warner, and Jack David. In fact, I first met him myself there in 1975. Ironically, given the Legacy Walk, walking in the city's 1977 pride parade, he urged spectators to join him 'in the street', and the parade's theme that year was 'Gays in History,'" said Bedwell.
"I am honored to be attending the grand opening of the Legacy Project on behalf of the National Confederacy of Two-Spirit Organizations," said Steininger." The Two-Spirit community is particularly proud of the plaque that has been designed to recognize our community and its contributions, a community that is often times overlooked. It does our hearts good for the Legacy Project to acknowledge and honor our people and our history."
The City Council Transportation Committee unanimously approved the Legacy Walk Sept. 26 and the final sign-off by the city council will take place Oct. 3.
See www.legacyprojectchicago.org/Dedication_Tickets.html to purchase tickets.