Project Summary

Fund a beautiful plaque in the sidewalk of the Castro District in SF to honor W.H. Auden, a gay English poet known for love poems such as “Funeral Blues,” “September 1, 1939” and "The Age of Anxiety."

Project Description

What is the Rainbow Honor Walk?   The Rainbow Honor Walk is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that honors Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender heroes and heroines with 3'x3' bronze plaques in the sidewalks of the Castro District in San Francisco.  It is similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, except the Rainbow Honor Walk recognizes LGBTQ members from the worldwide community who have made outstanding contributions to their field.  The idea behind the plaques is not only to educate all who walk down the streets to know the depth of the talent in the LGBT community, but for young LGBT members to know they are not alone and they can seek inspiration from the pioneers who came before them.  

 

Who Has Already Been Honored?   Twenty gorgeous plaques have already been installed on Castro and 19th Streets.  They include: Alan Turing, Allen Ginsberg, Bayard Rustin, Christine Jorgensen, Del Martin, Federico Garcia Lorca, Frida Kahlo, George Choy, Gertrude Stein, Harry Hay, James Baldwin, Jane Addams, Oscar Wilde, Randy Shilts, Sylvester, Tennessee Williams, Tom Waddell, Virginia Woolf and Yukio Mishima.  The criteria for all those who have been recognized with a plaque are as follows:  Self-expressed LGBTQ individuals, now deceased who have made significant contributions to their field.  Auden will join fellow RHW Honorees from the United Kingdom: Alan Turing, Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf.

                     

 

                                                             

 

Why Add W.H. Auden?  W.H. Auden (1907-1973) was an English-American poet.  Auden's poetry was noted for its stylistic and technical achievement, its engagement with politics, morals, love, and religion, and its variety in tone, form and content.  He is best known for love poems such as "Funeral Blues" and "September 1, 1939."  Auden was born in York, England and was raised near Birmingham.  He studied English at Christ Church, Oxford.  He spent five years in Berlin (1930-35) writing, collaborating and teaching English.  He later travelled to Iceland and China in order to write books about his journeys.  In 1939 he moved to the United States and became a U.S. citizen in 1946. He taught from 1941 to 1945 in American universities, followed by occasional visiting professorships in the 1950s.

                       

Auden came to wide public attention at the age of twenty-three, in 1930, with his first book, Poems, followed by The Orators.  He co-authored three plays with Christopher Isherwood.  In 1947, Auden won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his long poem, The Age of Anxiety.  From around 1927 to 1939, Auden and Isherwood maintained a lasting but intermittent sexual friendship while both had briefer but more intense relations with other men.  In 1939, Auden fell in love with Chester Kallman and regarded their relation as a marriage; this ended in 1941 when Kallman refused to accept the faithful relation that Auden demanded, but the two maintained their friendship, and from 1947 until Auden's death they lived in the same house or apartment in a non-sexual relation, often collaborating on opera libretti.  After his death, Auden's poems became known to a much wider public than during his lifetime through films, broadcasts, and popular media.  Funeral Blues was recited in Three Weddings and a Funeral.  Watch the video below for a very moving reading of Funeral Blues from Three Weddings and a Funeral.  

 

                                                 

 

Why We Need Your Support?  The cost to design, fabricate, install and maintain a 3'x3' bronze plaque is $7,000.  The Rainbow Honor Walk is a 501(c)3 charity with an all volunteer board and no paid staff.  We meet in donated office space and volunteer many hours to select the honorees and to fundraise to make this project a reality.  From time to time we receive large donations from foundations and corporations, but the bulk of our fundraising comes from the generosity of individuals, like you, who are committed to helping us honor LGBTQ heroes and heroines.

 

When and Where Will the Auden Plaque be Installed in the Sidewalk? The plaque will be installed by the San Francisco Department of Public Works in a sidewalk in the Castro District.  We are not certain where its exact location will be, but it will be prominent and we will let all LikeMinded donors know when we plan an unveiling ceremony for this plaque.  Here is the rendering of the plaque!     

                                         

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