Photos by Asia Morris
Six local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ) community leaders were inducted into the Equality Plaza area of Harvey Milk Promenade Park (HMPP) on Wednesday during the third annual induction ceremony. Honorees were commended for taking on leadership roles in advocating for equal rights, AIDS research, historic preservation and homelessness, among other issues
On a yearly basis, the HMPP committee nominates and selects honorees who identify as members of the LGBTQ community, whether living or deceased, and who have made exceptional contributions or service to the Greater Long Beach Area LGBTQ community.
The event also honors Pride Month in Long Beach and commemorates Harvey Milk’s birthday. According to the release, HMPP opened two years ago and is the first park in the nation to be named after the relentless equal rights activist and one of the first openly gay persons to be elected to public office in the U.S.
The 2015 honorees received a plaque and stood proudly next to Mayor Robert Garcia and Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez by the concrete replica of the soapbox on which Milk stood to inspire his audience.
“I want to congratulate all the honorees, and thank them on behalf of the city for their outstanding contributions,” said Mayor Garcia in a statement. “My thanks also to Councilwoman Gonzalez for carrying on this tradition in Harvey Milk Promenade Park.”
The 2015 honorees included David Hensley, who has been volunteering for 25 years at the ONE Archives in an effort to record LGBTQ history as American history. According to his introduction, he was instrumental in creating the Coming Out in Long Beach exhibit at the Historical Society and has been involved with the LGBTQ Caucus of the National Education Association as a former teacher.
Norman B. Reed was honored posthumously for his years of service toward the city. He was a board member of the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, served on the Grand Prix Committee of 300, worked for the Mayor’s Office and Long Beach City College, and was involved with Goodwill of Long Beach and Leadership Long Beach
Dave Newell, a long time Long Beach resident, was honored for being one of the longest-serving presidents of the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club, a contributor to the Coming Out in Long Beach exhibit and for serving on the city’s Human Relations Committee, one time as chair.
Co-founder of Long Beach Pride Judi Doyle was also honored. She helped start AIDS walk and was heavily involved with the Southern California Women for Understanding. Other honorees included Marilyn Barlow, also a co-founder of Long Beach Pride and Rick Ford, who produced the first Coronation Ball of The Royal Court of Long Beach and established the International Imperial Court of Long Beach in 1971.
“We have a large LGBTQ population in Long Beach and it’s so very important for us to honor people that have led the way and have made tremendous movements toward us being almost one of the nation’s capitals for the LGBTQ population […], it’s amazing,” Gonzalez told the Post. “So this is so important for the city, for the nation, really.”
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