Boystown “Legacy Project” Honors Contributions of Gays, Lesbians

A project honoring the contributions of gays and lesbians will be officially unveiled Thursday -- National Coming Out Day -- in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.

The Legacy Walk is a collection of brass plaques that will adorn the golden pylons along North Halsted Street. The project is an idea that came to Victor Salvo during the 1987 march in Washington.

"We always wanted to find a place to do an exhibit like this, and it wasn't until 1998 when I actually read the story about Alan Turin that everything clicked for me and I realized we could put them on the pylon," said Salvo, the project's executive director.

Turin is a British mathematician credited with breaking the Nazi Enigma Code during World War II and is regarded as the father of modern computer science, Salvo explained.

Other names range from the well-known, like Harvey Milk and Oscar Wilde, to the more obscure, like Christine Jorgensen and Frida Kahlo.

The installation has been progressing along Halsted for the past few months and is already attracting the attention and appreciation of neighborhood residents.

"I think it's a great, great, great, great concept. I think a lot of young people don't know the history behind the gay movement and this is great for them to see. It gives them a positive role model," said Stacy Bridges.

National Coming Out Day is celebrated each year on October 11 to promote government and public awareness of gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender rights.

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