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Legacy Project LGBT history plaques dedicated
by Matt Simonette

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The second year of Halsted Street's Legacy Project—the only outdoor LGBT museum walk in the world—kicked off Oct. 11 with a dedication to five more individuals who have made a lasting contribution to LGBT history.

Plaques this year were added commemorating poet Walt Whitman; playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry; physician and athlete—and Gay Games founder—Dr. Tom Waddell; businesswoman and activist Ruth Ellis; and civil rights pioneer Frank Kameny.

About 25 people gathered for the dedication, which began at 3342 N. Halsted and featured remarks from community members, some of them close to the honorees, as well as dedications read by LGBT youth.

Dick Uyvari, a prominent figure in the Chicago sports scene who, along with his late partner, Joe La Pat, was instrumental in bring helping bring the Gay Games to Chicago, spoke about Waddell, whom he said he had first learned about when Waddell placed sixth in the decathlon competition in the 1968 Summer Olympics.

"I wish I had known back then that he was going to be the man he turned out to be," Uyvari said.

Uyvari also sponsored the plaque in his partner's name. "He's going to live on forever on this plaque, alongside me, where he should be," Uyvari said of La Pat. He then added that Waddell is the first professional athlete to be honored by the Legacy Project.

Kim Hunt, executive director of Affinity Community Services, spoke when the plaque honoring Ruth Ellis was unveiled. The executive director of the Ruth Ellis Center in Detroit had been planning on being at the dedication along with some of the youth it serves. Unfortunately, they had received word that one of the Center's young clients had been shot and killed that morning.

Hunt spoke highly of the Center's work. "The Ruth Ellis Center is a beautiful space, and I think the largest LGBTQ youth center in the Midwest at least," she said. "They were so happy to know that she was being honored here today."

She further noted the irony that Ellis, who lived to be over 100 years old, had a youth center named after her.

"We should all be so lucky," Hunt said. "She has a youth center named after her so that all, with all the things she was able to do with her life, there will be young people who will be able to do the same things and more."

While speaking at Hansberry's plaque, Legacy Project founder and Executive Director Victor Salvo, who led the ceremony, mentioned a sentimental attachment he had to the plaque and its honoree.

"Lorraine Hansberry was the very first biography that I wrote, almost six years ago, when this project started," he said, adding that Hansberry is the first inductee who was born in Chicago.

"Most people think this whole project is a celebration of Chicago, but it really is a celebration of national and world culture," Salvo said.

The evening concluded with a celebration of the dedication at Center on Halsted. A benefit reception was held Oct. 12 at Sidetrack bar.



Videos by Tracy Baim/Windy City Times

Lorraine Hansberry,

Ruth Ellis,

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