IN THE CITY in which a local TV news anchor who thought he was off-mike once referred to him as a “faggot flier,” Leonard symbolically came home as a bronze memorial plaque now marks where he lived at the legendary corner of 18th & Castro Streets in San Francisco. The plaque was made possible through the gracious support and generosity of building owner Mike Dotterweich. Leonard’s friend, celebrated illustrator Chris Grubbs, also contributed.
AT ITS DEDICATION, San Francisco civil rights attorney Jo Hoenninger, representing the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network [SLDN], recalled that, despite having never met him, Leonard inspired her to tell the truth when asked if she was a lesbian when she, too, was in the Air Force. Thinking the importance of her job for the service might save her, she was, nonetheless, soon discharged. She added that she believed that Don't Ask-Don't Tell would have been overturned by now had Leonard lived. GLBT HISTORICAL SOCIETY Executive Director Paul Boneberg revealed that he was still in the closet when Leonard's famous "I Am A Homosexual" Time magazine cover appeared in 1975, forcing him to hide it behind another magazine while reading it. Twelve years later, as the head of Mobilization Against AIDS, Boneberg would be arrested along with Leonard and several other gay leaders at a protest in front of the White House against the Reagan Administration's failure to adequately address AIDS which, by that time, had already killed 20,000 in the US. Leonard was arrested wearing his US Air Force jacket, his medals, and carrying a small American flag. He donated his uniform and other personal memorabilia to the Society.
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MAYORAL ASSISTANT Alex Randolph was not yet born when Leonard launched his crusade for LGBT equality. Presenting the Mayor's Proclamation, he said he was happy to learn of another gay hero he could look up to.
DURING THE DEDICATION ceremony, chants of a huge San Francisco anti Prop H8TE crowd marching by below rose upward, filling the LGBT Community Center's fourth floor ceremonial room as then-CA State Assemblyman [now State Senator] Mark Leno presented a certificate in Leonard's honor and emphasized how fitting it was that the dedication was happening the same day as nationwide protests against anti gay marriage bigotry. He noted that Leonard was a nationally known gay rights leader before Harvey Milk was elected in 1977.
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LEONARD'S FRIEND, and co-organizer with him of a never-realized plan to erect a Washington DC memorial to Milk, activist Ken McPherson, said he knew that Leonard would be out in the streets himself protesting Prop H8TE if he were alive today.
In the spring of 2015, the building's owner had the wall repainted so that now Leonard's memorial anchors a representation of the rainbow flag.
AT THE 2008 DEDICATION, attendees watched video clips of some of Leonard's numerous appearances on national television and speeches, and members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, under the direction of Conductor Dr. Kathleen McGuire, performed the Star-Spangled Banner, Stouthearted Men, and I Shall Miss Loving You.
HEARTFELT THANKS to them, the speakers, SLDN, and Sen. Leno's staff for making the dedication so memorable.
THANKS, TOO, to Phil Maragoulas of Artsign and Banner Services for creating the plaque, Leonard friends Tad Dunlap, Allen Lopp, Chris Grubbs, and Wayne Friday for their vital assistance, and Robbie Robinson for his kindness.Dona eis requiem.