Seven names will be added to the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the historic Stonewall Inn.
The 2023 class of honorees: actor Leslie Jordan, playwright Terrence McNally, lesbian activist Achebe Betty Powell, art patron J. Frederic “Fritz” Lohman, drag queens Darcelle XV and Heklina and transgender activist Gloria Allen.
The induction ceremony is June 22 at Stonewall Inn in New York, the first U.S. National Monument dedicated to the LGBT rights movement.
The Wall of Honor is a posthumous celebration of people who played a crucial role in LGBTQ liberation. It also serves as an educational tool for future generations, said its founder, San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez.
“I founded the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor because I believe that a community — indeed a civil rights movement — that doesn’t know where it came from and whose shoulders it stands on doesn’t really know where it’s going,” said Ramirez, who also holds the title of Queen Mother of the Americas of the International Imperial Court System.
Jordan used his Southern styled comedic wit to great success in the breakthrough television show, Will & Grace. McNally, a five-time Tony Award winner, brought sensitive issues to light with works such as Love, Valour & Compassion.
Powell was the first Black lesbian to sit on the board of directors of what is now the National LGBTQ Task Force and was invited to the White House by former President Jimmy Carter. Lohman created space for avant-garde queer art in New York and was instrumental in the formation of the Soho District.
The big-haired and bejeweled Darcelle XV, aka Walter Cole, set the standard for female impersonators in Portland, Oregon, performing into her nineties to claim the crown of oldest working drag queen. Stefan Grygelko’s Heklina was a San Francisco icon, who founded the legendary drag club TrannyShack and coordinated numerous community events throughout the Bay Area.
Allen ran a charm school for trans youth in Chicago, often paying out of her own pocket to help feed teenagers who had been bullied, abused or ostracized by their family.