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Legacy Project Establishes Equality House in Kansas

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Friday May 23, 2014

Last month, the Grand Opening of "Equality House Presents The Legacy Project" drew hundreds of people to the groundbreaking, rainbow-colored home directly across from the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church compound in Topeka, Kans.

Visitors to the new permanent exhibit at Equality House were able to learn more about the many contributions LGBT people have made to world history and culture. The event brought people from as far away as Texas, Oklahoma and Florida to the first of its kind satellite installation in America's heartland.

"Our entire point for this installation, and all of the work that we do, is to give LGBT kids something to hold onto in a world that doesn't value their existence and is constantly sending them negative messages," said Victor Salvo, Legacy Project co-founder and Executive Director, who officiated at the unveiling. "We want to give them positive role models and inspiration for their future."

The Legacy Project at Equality House exhibition features 18 plaques, framed in bronze and under glass, representing people from throughout history giving visitors an overview of LGBT contributions throughout the centuries.

The exhibition also features a multi-media component, with an iPad kiosk that enables visitors access to all the inspirational stories found on The Legacy Project's website.

"What is in Topeka is significant, but it is only the tip of the iceberg, " noted Salvo. "We currently have over 225 people in our database... and growing!"

As part of a weekend of festivities, the evening prior to the open house included a NOH8 campaign photo-shoot -- which introduced an additional 500 people to the Legacy Project by giving them a chance to study the plaque mock-ups in detail, while waiting to be photographed for the online awareness initiative.

"The exposure Legacy Project and LGBT achievements received from these combined events was astonishing and tremendously uplifting," said Salvo.

Recounting the story of two women who had traveled four hours just to see the installation, Salvo said, "They were both so moved and appreciative that the installation existed, telling me ’I never thought in my lifetime I would live to see something like this. I am just overwhelmed at what y’all have done... we’ll be coming back, with our kids.’"

The Legacy Project is the 501(c)3 Cultural and Educational non-profit that manages "The Legacy Walk" -- a memorial streetscape spanning 1/2 mile of the North Halsted corridor in Chicago that highlights some of the contributions LGBT people have made to world history and culture.

Additionally, the award-winning Legacy Project Education Initiative (LPEI) features online resources and multi-media, customized lesson plans and study guides, as well as special projects and activities for educators and members of Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs in Illinois and throughout the Midwest. Dozens of high school and college groups have traveled hours for a guided tour of the Legacy Walk -- the only installation of its kind in the world.

The Equality House/Legacy Project installation is open to the public. Drop-ins are welcomed, but larger groups are urged to call 850-585-7903 to schedule a visit before making the trip to Topeka.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Legacy-Project/124794807576962

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


  • Wayne M., 2014-05-23 21:18:18

    Great news! This is a wonderful response to bigotry and gives hope to many people.

  • GAG'EM, 2014-05-27 23:15:01

    It IS very colorful.

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