WHAT IS THE LEGACY PROJECT'S MISSION?
A: THE LEGACY PROJECT works to build an inclusive and equitable future for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) people by celebrating their contributions to world history and culture; by educating and inspiring young people; and by helping the general public understand that LGBTQ people have always been part of humanity’s story.
WHO HAS ENDORSED THE LEGACY PROJECT?
A: THE LEGACY PROJECT has received letters of support from dozens of historians, community activists, business leaders and elected officials. It won an award from the American Historical Association in 2014 and, in 2019, the Legacy Walk was declared a Historic Landmark.
WHAT IS THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN "THE LEGACY PROJECT", "THE LEGACY WALK", "THE LEGACY WALL", AND "THE LEGACY PROJECT EDUCATION INITIATIVE (LPEI)"?
A: THE LEGACY PROJECT is a Chicago-based 501(c)3 non-profit corporation conceived to install memorials to LGBT historic figures which summarize their contributions to world history and culture. THE LEGACY WALK is a half-mile-long interactive outdoor museum walk featuring these memorial markers. THE LEGACY WALL is a traveling interactive installation that features 125 biographical and graphic elements - including everyone on the Legacy Walk. These two installations are digitally linked to a cloud-based information network that can be accessed on both the streetscape and while visiting the indoor exhibit using either a scanned QR Code or NFC technology to open a digital portal to the LEGACY PROJECT EDUCATION INITIATIVE on your smartphone. LPEI combines custom lesson plans, study guides, research links, and multimedia with guided tours of THE LEGACY WALK and day-long symposia on the roles of LGBTQ people in history. Together these elements offer an unprecedented opportunity to learn about a history most people do not realize is missing.
WHY IS THE LEGACY WALK ON HALSTED STREET WHEN THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY HAS EXPANDED BEYOND THAT AREA?
A: The presence of the Pylons on Halsted makes THE LEGACY WALK possible for three reasons: 1) Because the Pylons already exist THE LEGACY PROJECT did not have to pay to have physical stanchions constructed to hold the markers - a cost that would make the exhibit financially untenable for a start-up non-profit. 2) If we had to create and install physical stanchions we would have to have gotten a zoning variance and approval of the surrounding neighborhood businesses and residents - steps that would add considerable cost and many years to the time-line. 3) Since the Pylons are under the purview of the Northalsted Business Alliance, we sought and obtained their permission to install THE LEGACY WALK in 2010. With their approval in hand, THE LEGACY PROJECT was given exclusive authorization by the City of Chicago to use the Pylons for the installation beginning in the fall of 2012.
WILL THE LEGACY WALK EVER BE EXPANDED TO INCLUDE AN INDOOR FACILITY?
A: Plans are being made to open a Visitors Center and Gift Shop. The COVID pandemic has delayed those plans by a few years.
HOW MANY PYLONS ARE THERE AND HOW MANY SPACES FOR COMMEMORATION ARE AVAILABLE?
A: There are twenty (20) pylons with two (2) markers spaces on each - yielding forty (40) physical marker spaces altogether comprising the Legacy Walk over the half-mile of North Halsted Street pylons. All 40 were filled as of 2018. In 2020 we will begin rotating the oldest plaques off to be refinished to make room for new inductions dedicated every October in conjunction with National Coming-Out Day. The retired plaques will be refinished to be installed in the Visitors Center being planned.
WILL THE INSTALLATION BE ACCESSIBLE?
A: As an outdoor installation there are no physical impediments to anyone touring the Legacy Walk, and our guided tours impart all pertinent content to those who are visually impaired. In the Summer of 2015 visitors began accessing digital content for each of the inductees on the Legacy Walk through their smartphones via an NFC (Near Field Communication) magnetic chip and QR Code mounted at each installation. Eventually the digital interface will be accessible via a Legacy Walk Ap that will use GPS, beacon technology, and Artificial Intelligence to have the text of the plaques read to our visitors in the language of their choice. Additional features to enhance the touring experience for everyone, will be phased-in as funding permits. Click HERE to see a brief video of how the digital interface works.
HOW IS THE LEGACY WALK BEING PAID FOR?
A: THE LEGACY WALK is funded entirely through private donor sponsorships, community-based fundraising, corporate underwriting, and philanthropic foundations. No public funds are used.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE NORTHALSTED BUSINESS ALLIANCE AND THE LEGACY WALK?
A: The Northalsted Business Alliance is the "host" of THE LEGACY WALK. THE LEGACY PROJECT, as the exclusive licensee to use the Pylons, is responsible for all the costs associated with the markers including fabrication, installation, permitting, maintenance and insurance in perpetuity. Beyond these basic concerns, the NBA and LEGACY work closely on tourism and joint initiatives to improve the quality of life on Halsted Street. The North Halsted pylons and the Legacy Walk plaques were declared a Historic Landmark in 2019.
IS EVERYONE TO BE INCLUDED FROM CHICAGO?
A: No! Only 2% of our nominees have any connection to Chicago, and over 45% are from outside the United States entirely. We are determined to make THE LEGACY WALK a true celebration of the contributions of LGBT people wherever they came from, lived or did their work.
HOW IS THE LEGACY WALK DIFFERENT FROM THE CHICAGO LGBTQ HALL OF FAME?
A: The Chicago LGBTQ Hall of Fame is devoted only to people who have a relationship to Chicago. THE LEGACY WALK is an international LGBTQ History exhibit. But we credit Chicago's unprecedented recognition of its LGBTQ citizens through the Hall of Fame as being one of the main reasons why this multi-cultural city - an international travel destination - is the natural location for THE LEGACY WALK.
WHAT IS THE CITY OF CHICAGO'S ROLE IN THE LEGACY PROJECT AND THE LEGACY WALK?
A: The City of Chicago is a non-funding Co-Sponsor of THE LEGACY WALK and has extended its umbrella of "city-protected speech" over the installation to ensure the exhibit is insulated from outside challenges to the Legacy Project's exclusive use of the pylons. The City does not participate in the selection process but is given the opportunity to confirm that the ownership of the intellectual content has been certified, that the selections have been independently vetted, that the photo-rights have been secured, and that a demographic balance suitable to a City-Co-Sponsored private installation has been achieved. This assures that THE LEGACY WALK meets the basic legal requirements of any City-Owned installation.
ARE THERE ANY PLANS TO INCLUDE THE LEGACY WALK IN ANNUAL TOURISM PROMOTION?
A: Yes. We are working with the Northalsted Business Alliance, the Illinois Department of Tourism (a.k.a. "Enjoy Illinois!"), the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau (a.k.a. "Choose Chicago!"), and the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association to develop travel and promotional packages. We have been featured in over 50 international travel publications and blogs.
DOES THE LEGACY WALK CELEBRATE ONLY "ACTIVISTS"?
A: THE LEGACY WALK was not conceived to be a National LGBTQ Activist Hall of Fame (though we certainly think such a thing would be wonderful)... it is a celebration of all the various types of contributions LGBTQ people have made throughout history; the truth of the matter is, most people would not regard themselves as activists even if the nature of their work had an activist-type of effect or inspired activism in others. That is why we recognize a broad range of contributions and accomplishments, from a number of fields, that go well beyond what we might contemporarily deem as "activism."
WHY WAS IT DECIDED THAT ALL OF THE NOMINEES MUST BE DECEASED?
A: As contemporary political issues - and the explosion of activism they rightly inspire - continue to come to the fore in our consciousness, there is a growing danger that those who existed before the era of "activism" will recede into obscurity soon to be forgotten altogether. THE LEGACY WALK was conceived to give these people their due by righting some of the misconceptions that selective historic revisionism has allowed to go unchallenged. Those who are alive are still writing what will become their legacies and will each have their champions to advocate for honoring them in future exhibits that we hope THE LEGACY WALK will inspire.
SHOULDN'T EVERYONE INCLUDED BE OPENLY LGBTQ+ IDENTIFIED AND "OUT"?
A: Though this is an understandable desire, the reality is that being "out" is a relatively modern concept that would not apply to most people who existed and did brilliant work in their respective fields several decades ago or longer. And it goes without saying that the entire construct of "LGBTQ" - so infused with contemporary political connotations - would have been meaningless to most people from past eras and different cultures. This does not mean these individuals do not deserve to be remembered. They experienced many of the same challenges that we still face today - some much, much more so - and did so without the benefit of a supportive community around them. To ignore people with non-hetero-normative sexuality or gender identity simply for not being out and openly identified in the past (a blessing many of us take for granted today) would rob us of the opportunity to learn about what they accomplished in their lifetimes - often at incredible personal cost - and would be a disservice to them and to ourselves. This is especially critical to educating LGBTQ youth, many of whom struggle with being closeted and question their own self-identification and self-worth. Everyone deserves an opportunity to learn about the important contributions of individuals whom traditional history texts have obscured or disregarded. In order to do that we must accept that the closet has been - and continues to be for many of us - an extremely influential part of our collective experience. Rather than make a value judgment about those who were closeted - because everyone has their reasons - we use all of these examples to explore the power of the closet over our perception of history so that all people can better understand why being out is so important to changing social attitudes.
AREN'T THERE A NUMBER OF PEOPLE MISSING?
A: All the names presently included in the nominee biography samples are just that - nominees - this is not the list of people who will necessarily be inducted. We expect hundreds of additional nominations over time and strongly encourage anyone who is interested to click the "NOMINATE SOMEONE" link on every page. Because our collective history has been intentionally obscured or redacted, it is largely through nominations submitted by people like you that we have come to learn of so many of the contributions you can read here now.
HOW DO I NOMINATE SOMEONE?
A: You need to submit a basic Nomination Form describing in general your nominee's contributions. Each nomination must include verifiable references for the purposes of academic vetting. It is strongly recommended that you also submit a 100-word mini-biography that explains the life and background of your nominee and what specifically you consider to be the historic significance of their contributions. This could be the impact of their work on future generations, or the sacrifices that were required to achieve their goals, or the risks they had to take to overcome their situation - anything that articulates their particular triumph and legacy and why they should be a source of inspiration for other LGBTQ people. Once your nomination sources have been confirmed, your nominee will be extensively processed and added to the database.
WHO WILL MAKE THE SELECTIONS?
A: The Selection Committee is presently made up of twenty-eight (28) Ph.D./Ed.D. LGBTQ historians, biographers, archivists, librarians - in addition to a national panel of experienced and diverse LGBTQ community leaders, each with a long track record of excellence and commitment.
WILL THE CANDIDATES SELECTED BE DIVERSE AND REPRESENTATIVE OF THE LGBTQ COMMUNITIES?
A: Our selection protocol ensures there is a balanced demographic representation of inductees that takes into account race, gender, orientation, self-identification, nation of origin and field of contribution. After each round of balloting is completed the final list is approved by the Legacy Project Board of Directors (which is responsible for the ultimate integrity of the exhibit) and forwarded to the City of Chicago for certification.
ARE THERE ANY PLANS TO INCORPORATE EDUCATION INTO THE LEGACY WALK?
A: In the spring of 2013 the Legacy Project Education Initiative (LPEI) was launched in cooperation with our associates at Illinois Safe Schools Alliance. LPEI uses customized lesson plans, study guides, discussion questions, special projects, multi-media, and on-line resources to fashion after school activities for members of Gay-Straight Alliance clubs. For those who live close enough, these are paired with organized field trips to explore the LEGACY WALK in person. All LPEI resources are age-appropriate for middle-school and high school students and are available online. These tools are now the foundation of the full LGBTQ-Inclusive K-12 Curriculum for Illinois public schools, which the Legacy Project has been maintaining for the Illinois State Board of Education since the LGBTQ education mandate legislation was signed into law in 2019.
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER QUESTIONS? PLEASE CONTACT US AT: INFO@LEGACYPROJECTCHICAGO.ORG