Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Castro merchant turns window into display for gay youth; gives hint to names for LGBT walk of fame

A Castro antiques dealer has turned his storefront window into a display aimed at keeping LGBT youth from committing suicide by showing they are part of a community that has made countless contributions to society.

It is also providing some hint to the names of famous LGBT people that might someday line the sidewalks of San Francisco’s LGBT district as part of a gay walk of fame.

Isak Lindenauer removed the heirlooms and other items for sale he had in his eponymously named store at 4143 19th Street earlier this month and replaced them with pink colored posters (seen at right) that contain dozens of peoples’ names in black lettering.

They include artists Andy Warhol and Keith Haring; comedian Rosie O’Donnell; tennis star Billie Jean King; writers Virginia Woolf and E.M. Foster; activists Harry Hay and Del Martin; and singer Billie Holiday.

The names are of LGBT people, some famous round-the-world, others forgotten by time. The lists also include the names of local LGBT people who contributed to San Francisco’s LGBT community but are not widely known.

The list of luminaries is compiled from the suggestions Lindenauer has received for a project known as the Rainbow Honor Walk. The concept, a reworking of an idea that local gay publicist David Perry initially came up with in the 1980s, involves placing placards into the sidewalks throughout the Castro with names of famous and not-so-famous LGBT people who have made significant contributions to society.

The city has granted initial approval to the project, and as the Bay Area Reporter noted in an article September 30th, the backers of the project are close to finalizing the first 20 people to be honored. The board has kept the names it is considering a closely guarded secret.

They have disclosed that the first group of honorees will include only those people who are deceased and had publicly acknowledged they were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The board was expected to have finalized its decision this month but it remains unclear when the list will be publicly revealed.

The public did get a sneak peek at some of the names that have been sent in as possible people to be be honored on the street plaques at the honor walk’s booth at this year’s Castro Street Fair. Pink panels (such as the one at left) containing the various names lined the walls of the tent the Rainbow Honor Walk was assigned at the October 3 event.

Following the recent spate of LGBT youth suicides that has gained worldwide news coverage, Lindenauer decided that rather than put the posters into storage, they should remain on public view. He worked with Tom Ryan, the inclusion teacher from Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy who sits on the honor walk board, to turn them into a window display for his shop.

“We came back from the Castro Street Fair and that night I couldn’t stop thinking about all the new kids who had done themselves in and all of a sudden it all sort of crystallized,” Lindenauer wrote in an email to the B.A.R. this week.

He said he plans to keep the display up for at least the next three months but will update it with new themes.

“After Halloween, we’ll change it and feature books by gay authors, also perhaps art-again with the idea of educating and promoting another aspect the walk will deal with,” wrote Lindenauer. “In December we’ll do a third window, again not quite fully formed yet, but perhaps dealing with politics, science, sports-other aspects of ways in which LGBT people have affected the growth of the world through their contributions.”

He cautioned that the names on display should not be seen as a list of the people who will be part of the Rainbow Honor Walk.

“The names are names gathered in the course of trying to develop people we might consider for the walk. None are formal at this point,” wrote Lindenauer. “The idea was simply to spark interest at the fair by showing the diversity of our people.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, October 28, 2010 @ 4:38 pm PST
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