By Nicole Murray Ramirez
Next week, I will be in New York for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Twenty-five years ago, I was elected as the national co-chair of Stonewall 25, which included a march on the United Nations and a big rally in Central Park with entertainment by Liza Minnelli, Gregory Hines and RuPaul. Now, 25 years later, I return as the founder and national co-chair of the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor, which will be dedicated next Thursday, June 27, at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City. Rea Carey, the executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force in Washington, D.C., is my co-chair.
This wall of honor will remember our community’s pioneers, trailblazers and heroes and is being sponsored by the International Imperial Courts Council and the task force. And yes, it’s like our own San Diego Wall of Honor, located at the San Diego LGBT Community Center, which I also founded to remember those shoulders we stand on. The Wall of Honor at the Stonewall Inn will start with 50 LGBTQ activists and leaders who are no longer with us including such heroes as Harvey Milk, Matthew Shepard, Barbara Gittings, James Baldwin, Leslie Feinberg, Sylvia Rivera, Chuck Renslow, Leonard Matlovich, Marsha P. Johnson, Frank Kameny, Keith Haring, Christine Jorgensen, Henry “Harry” Hay, Gilbert Baker, Bayard Rustin, Patricia Neil Warren, Vito Russo, Edie Windsor, Pedro Zamora, Randy Shilts, and Jose Julio Sarria, among others. As I have said so many times: A community, indeed a civil rights movement, that doesn’t know where it came from doesn’t know where it’s going. This wall at the Stonewall Inn has been a dream of mine for many years as I have had the honor to have known and worked with many of the great, dedicated heroes whose names will be going on it.
I must acknowledge the owner of the Stonewall Inn, Kurt Kelly, who has been outstanding in his support and accommodated this historic project. This could not have happened without Rea’s and my hard-working team: Coco LaChine, Russell Roybal, John Carrillo, Sarah Massey, Nathan Page, Henry Bastos Woods, Billy Bastos Woods, Tree, and especially Stolichnaya Vodka and its wonderful gay ambassador Patrik Gallineaux. Among the special speakers at the unveiling of the wall will be Judy and Dennis Shepard, Stuart Milk, Mandy Carter, California state Senate President Toni Atkins, Karina Samala, Kamryn Whitley, Kierra Johnson and 11-year-old Chase Xavier Matys-Gleason.
I will be in New York for nearly a week and attending many events. Sadly, there has been somewhat of a rift in New York City’s LGBT activist community and thus there are now two, yes two, marches/parades being held, causing some confusion for many people coming to Stonewall 50 (which is expected to see attendance in the millions). I have been coming to New York since the 1970s and have always stopped by the Stonewall Inn which President Barack Obama made a national landmark in 2016. Hopefully one day there will be a national LGBTQ wall of honor in Washington, D.C. … hummmmm.
9 San Diego Legendary Drag Queens
In celebration of Stonewall 50, the San Diego History Center, located in the heart of Balboa Park, will present a historic exhibit of nine of San Diego’s legendary drag queens from June 21 to Sept. 8. The nine queens are Chad Michaels, Tootie, Babette Schwartz, Paris, Franceska, Lala Too, Norma, Glitz Glam and this old queen. The opening ribbon-cutting ceremony is this Friday evening, June 21, and the first lady of San Diego, Katherine Stuart Faulconer, is the honorary chair of this fabulous exhibition.
A big thank you to Dr. Lillian Faderman, Bob Morris, Bill Lawrence, Clarione Gutierrez and the outstanding staff of the History Center as well as the Imperial Court de San Diego.
— Nicole Murray Ramirez has been writing a column since 1973. He has been a Latino/gay activist for almost half a century and has advised and served the last seven mayors of San Diego. Named the “Honorary Mayor of Hillcrest” by a city proclamation, he has received many media awards including from the prestigious San Diego Press Club. Reach Nicole at Nicolemrsd1@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @Nmrsd2.
Editor’s Note: The opinions written in this column are the author’s own and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the staff and/or publisher of Gay San Diego and/or its parent company, San Diego Community News Network (SDCNN). The newspaper and its staff should be held harmless of liability or damages.