Albert H. Fulcher | Editor
Still in its early stages, The Southern California Equality Business Alliance (SCBEA) is opening its door to a new exhibit on Nov. 10. Funded by the SCBEA, who operates the San Diego LGBT Visitors Center, it has been working for the past three years towards fundraising for an outdoor streetscape project consisting of 30 to 60 bronze plaques.
These plaques would be placed along University Avenue and commemorate and honor the lives of LGBTQs in a permanent way in Hillcrest.
Eddie Reynoso, SCBEA founder, said they also want to educate the community about the impacts and contributions that these individuals have made for the Legacy Wall pop-up exhibit.
“Not just towards our LGBT history, but world history in general,” Reynoso said. “Alan Turing, Margaret Mead, Harvey Milk — there are hundreds of people that we can honor their lives and really educate the community. Especially our allied community. That’s the overall mission of the project.”
Reynoso said it is also developing an app so when people visit, it would be a self-guided tour with narrated stories about the people honored on the plaque.
“It is like creating a Heritage Walk like you would see in Washington D.C. or the Gaslamp and Old Town, where people are able to learn about our culture and our heritage,” Reynoso said. “For the Legacy Walk, we’ve partnered with Chicago’s Legacy Project. They have a series of markers in Chicago that brings in more than 1.2 million people a year. That many people, or even a few hundred thousand people coming into Hillcrest for the Legacy Walk, would have a huge economic impact on our neighborhood. And that is the ultimate goal of tourism.”
The SCBEA and the Chicago Legacy Project are working together to kick off this campaign with an exhibit displaying local, state, national and international LGBT history and the people that paved the way for centuries for the LGBT community. Chicago Legacy Project loaned part of its traveling exhibit to help highlight this new project.
“We’ve partnered with them to bring it to San Diego for a month and it is meant to show local sponsors in the community of what we can do and what opportunities we have here in San Diego in creating something similar to that. It’s a mock up version of what we want to be,” Reynoso said.
RamPac Property Development donated the exhibit space for a month, and the SCBEA might try to extend it another month. Stoli Vodka provided a $10,000 matching grant to bring the Legacy Wall to San Diego and launch this exhibit. SCBEA is just now launching its $10,000 matching fundraiser.
“We’ve been able to invite other organizations like the Impulse Group, Lambda Archives, Imperial Court de San Diego so they can bring items of history that might be interesting for people to see coming into the exhibit,” Reynoso said.
The Legacy Project in Chicago primarily promotes people of national and world history. The goal of the SCBEA in San Diego is to highlight not only international and multicultural contributions of gays and lesbians, but also the contributions of our local city, state, elected officials and other LGBTs that have contributed to our history.
“You think of Dr. A. Brad Truax, he’s someone that should be honored with a plaque, so people know about his life and work,” Reynoso said. “Although, now all of our nominees for plaques are people that have passed, there are people like Al Best who recently passed. He was the first openly gay man to run for public office in San Diego. He paved the way for people like Christine Kehoe, Toni Atkins, Todd Gloria.”
Reynoso said that those are just some of the people that should eventually be honored with plaques.
“That’s what we want,” Reynoso said. “Nicole Murray Ramirez, another individual that has done so much for the community, not just in San Diego but around the nation and other parts of the world. Imperial Court founder Jose Sarria, Nicole’s predecessor, [is another person] that we need to educate people about and know that they existed and honor their contributions. They’ve done amazing things that inspire me on a daily basis.”
The SCBEA has partnered with other organizations to bring in items of local historical significance to add to the exhibit. There are items from the Imperial Court, memorabilia from San Diego corporate allies, the first Pride flags made by Gilbert Baker in 1978, the Marriage Equality flag, and exhibit created by Lambda Archives, and more contributions are being added to the exhibit daily.
The exhibit officially opens on Nov. 10 and Rep. Susan Davis will attend and offer a presentation for Out of the Archives (Lambda Archives) on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” SCBEA invites the community to come out and take a look at the exhibit. It is located at 451 University Ave and the special event of the day begins at noon.
The Legacy Project Facebook: bit.ly/2SWud3N
Southern California Equality Business Alliance: bit.ly/2RHrEBi
—Albert H. Fulcher can be reached at email@example.com.