To celebrate Harvey Milk’s birthday on May 22, six LGBT supporters and leaders in Long Beach, California were honored with a plaque at the Harvey Milk Park Equality Plaza and a formal recognition with Senator Ricardo Lara and Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal.
Carlos De Avila, known as the Fabulous Faggot of Funky Fourth Street, was first to be recognized for his contributions from being the LGBTQ Center’s first executive director and co-founder and being involved with the Lambda Democratic Club. Though he passed away last year his sister and brother accepted his award.
Donald Snow, an avid HIV/AIDS activist in the ‘80s and Lambda Democratic Club developer was second to be honored. Though he passed away from AIDS in 1993 at age 39, he was a very influential part of the LGBT community.
“They have left this earth but are certainly still part of our lives and a part of every aspect of this community,” Vice Mayor Robert Garcia said.
For his dedication to preserving the historical Wilmore District and LGBT community, Vietnam veteran Ernie Villa was next to be awarded. Villa has been involved in HIV/AIDS activism and helped victims find hospice care. The cancer survivor also served as the Grand Marshal of the Pride Parade in 1998.
Next, Margo Martinez was awarded for her work during the AIDS crisis in the ‘80s. Martinez used her training for hospice care to go to different hospice houses and care for HIV/AIDS victims, never getting caught up in morality questions like many did.
Vanessa Romain was the sixth honoree. The Pride veteran has been involved with Long Beach Pride for 29 years, serving as president for five years.
Currently the plaques are temporary, but the permanent ones are being etched to be a part of Harvey Milk Park, the first park in Long Beach to be dedicated to a member of the LGBT community.