Why Not Build An LGBT Monument In San Francisco?
by Belinda Dronkers-Laureta on May 11th, 2016

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

January 11, 2013

Why Not Build An LGBT Monument In San Francisco?


Let’s built an LGBT monument in San Francisco. It would honor the contributions to American life made by LGBTs and all that was done by LGBTs and their allies to force America on its promise: liberty and justice for all, and, yes, equality. It would memorialize those who suffered a lifetime of harassment, those who were unjustly persecuted, and, sadly, those for whom the strain and despair became too much to bear.

Why not a monument? Barcelona has one, so does Amsterdam, so do a number of other cities. The one in Barcelona is a triangular, gray granite slab etched in pink. Seemingly embedded in rectangular bricks, the triangle is located in Ciutadella Park. That was a compromise with the Catholic Church who objected to its original, planned location, the square in front of Gaudi’s fabulous Sagrada Familia basillica. The triangular slab is slightly tilted toward the viewer and has an inscription in Catalan that, in English, reads: “In memory of gay men, lesbians, and transsexual people who have suffered persecution and repression throughout history, Barcelona 2011.”

Amsterdam’s monument consists of three pink, equilateral triangles which themselves form the corners of one larger triangle. Each side of the three triangles measures 30 feet; the large one they form is about 120 feet on each side. One triangle is at street level, one triangle is about two feet above street level and to reach the third a visitor takes a few steps down from the quay because that one seems to float on the waters of the Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal).

When it comes to symbolism, the “homomonument” in Amsterdam has it all over the others we have seen and read about. The triangles are pink, because during the Nazi occupation, LGBTs had to wear pink triangles in the concentration camps. A badge of shame, turned into a badge of honor. The street level triangle has the inscription: “Such an immense longing for friendship,” a line from a poem by a gay Dutch writer. That triangle points toward Anne Frank’s home. The triangle on the water points towards the National War Museum and the podium triangle points toward the Dutch COC headquarters. COC is the oldest LGBT organization in the world. Started in 1946, its acronym is for its Dutch name: Center for Sports and Leisure, a “cover” name to hide its true purpose.

The startling characteristic of the monument, however, is that, unlike other monuments, it does not stand by itself; rather, it both adds to its surroundings and at the same time is part of its surroundings. If it weren’t for the triangle that seems to float on the water, it is possible to not notice it (we didn’t at first). To us it symbolizes that LGBTs are part of our world while at the same time confronting us with the reality of “not yet, not totally.” The monument is unique, simple, and profound.

So, why not a monument in San Francisco? What better way to pay homage to all that work, over so many years, upon which we now are confidently building a future of equality, but know we yet have some ways to go.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org

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