Youth Led Community Mural

This year's "Change Makers Mural" was created and painted by 25 Middle and High School students from across Rye, Rye Brook, Rye Neck, Port Chester, Pelhan and Westport.  It features 11 LGBTQ+ leaders and allies in strong bold silhouette surrounded by the winds of change.

More about the featured figures: 

Leonard Matlovich

Born on July 6, 1943, Leonard Matlovich grew up in Savannah, Georgia, where he went to Catholic Bishop England High School. Afterwards, he followed in his fathers footsteps by joining the army. Matlovich served in the Vietnam War, was a race relations instructor, and a recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Then, in 1974, with the help of Time Magazine, he purposely outed himself to the military to fight their ban on gays. Nationally, the gay community rallied around him in his fight to stay in the United States Air Force. However, Matlovich was dishchared, and unable to continue his career in the military, so he became an advocate for gay rights. He ran for mayor of San Francisco, previously held by Harvey Milk, held interviews, appeared in articles, newspapers, and later in a documentary by NBC. He became a symbol for millions of LGBTQ+ youth around the country, and became a turning point for the movement as he helped legitimize the cause.  For more information visit 



Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde was an American writer, feminist, librarian, and civil rights activist. She was a self-described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," 

Born on February 18, 1934 in New York City, Audre Lorde spent her youth reading, memorizing and then later in teen years writing poetry herself. At just 17, while still attending Hunter High School, she had her first poem published in Seventeen. Lorde then attended Hunter College, where she received her BA, and later earned her MLS from Columbia University. In 1970, after her divorce from Edwin Rollins, she met her lifelong partner, Frances Clayton, who also taught poetry.

Lorde spent the rest of her life using “her creative talent to confront and [address] injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia.”  Stating that “I have a duty, to speak the truth as I see it and to share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigating pain.” These words ring true almost thirty years after her death in 1991. Her poetry serves as an inspiration for current civil rights advocates, and contemporary issues our world faces. For more information 

 

Marsha P. Johnson

born on August 24, 1945, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Marsha P. Johnson was an American gay liberation activist, and self-identified drag queen. She was identified as male at birth, but that did not stop her from expressing herself. She proudly wore women's clothes, and used she/her pronouns. The term transgender was not used back then, but historians and her friends alike all describe her as a trans women.

After high school, Johnson moved to NYC where she quickly became known as an outspoken advocate for gay rights. Johnson stood at the center of New York City's gay liberation movement for nearly 25 years. She is most notably known for participating in the Stonewall Riots, which were famous for serving as a wake up call for the LGBTQ+ community to take action. However, LGBTQ rights weren't her only cause. She was on the front lines of protests against oppressive policing. Then later, with the help of her friend Stormie Delaveri, helped found one of the country's first safe spaces for transgender and homeless youth: Street Transvestite Activist Revolutionaries (STAR). 

Marsha spent the rest of her life fighting and advocating for trans youth until her death On July 6, 1992, at age 46. Her body was found floating in the Hudson river, but the police refused to investigate, and ruled it a suicide. It was not until 2012 that they reopened the case, but even now it remains unsolved.  For more information

 

Harvey Milk

 

Harvey Milk was born May 22, 1930, in Woodmere, Long Island. After receiving his BA from New York State College for Teachers in Albany, Milk served in the Korean War. There he was “other than honorably discharged” for engaging in sexual acts with men. After his time served, he worked in New York, and later settled to San Fransico where he gained popularity as a leader in the gay community. Then in the 1970s, Milk, believing city officials were too conservative, decided to run on the city’s Board of Supervisors.

Milk’s unprecedented loud and unapologetic proclamation of his authenticity as an openly gay candidate for public office, and his subsequent election, gave new hope to LGBTQ+ people everywhere at a time when the community was encountering widespread hostility and discrimination. His remarkable career was tragically cut short in 1977, at age 48, when he was assassinated only a year after taking office.For more information 



Keith Haring 

Haring was an activist as well as an artist, and frequently used his artwork to help draw attention to a variety of issues, including the call to end apartheid, nuclear-disarmament, and the HIV-AIDS epidemic. 

Born on May 4, 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania, Keith Haring knew at a young age he wanted to pursue art as a career. After graduating from the School of Visual Arts in New York, he gained popularity for using an unconventional yet effective marketing technique for his work; he made public art. Haring used blank advertising panels in the subway as canvases, held teaching workshops, and later opened a retail store for his art. His goal was to use his art to speak out about social and political issues, and he proved to be successful at this. Using the public nature of his art, he painted widely, at hospitals, public works projects, murals; and even on the West Berlin wall three years before its fall. 

Haring, though, is also notable for his activism and contributions to find a cure to the HIV-AIDS epidemic. After being diagnosed himself, Haring created the Keith Haring Foundation, whose goal was to gather fundraising through expanding the reach of his art. While Haring died in 1990 at age 30, his artwork's reach is long lasting, and his inspiration and contributions to the community have not been forgotten. For more information 



Gilbert Baker

Baker was a world-famous political activist, designer and flag-maker. He created the Rainbow Flag in 1978 and it was embraced across the world as the universal symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement.

 Born in Kansas in 1951, a predominantly conservative state, Baker was discouraged from pursuing his hobbies of art, fashion, and design. He turned to the military as a form of escape, but only experienced more homophobia. Luckily, Baker was stationed in San Francisco, where he was able to flourish within the accepting community. After completing his service, Baker pursued his passion for textile design. After creating anti-war and lgbtq+ marches banners, his friend Harvey Milk requested he redesign the LGBTQ+ flag. This proved successful, as Baker’s flag has become one the most famous and recognizable symbols of inclusion around the world. While Baker died in 2017 at age 65, his legacy of the rainbow flag will never be forgotten. For more information

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, in a Jewish family. There, her mother instilled in Ginsburg the importance of education. Ginsburg went on to graduate at the top of her class at Cornell, and later from Harvard Law School. In law school she faced gender-based discrimination, and even after with her job search. This did not stop her though. She worked as a Supreme Court clerk, a professor at Columbia, argued six landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court for women’s rights, worked in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1980, and was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by Bill Clinton.

While working for the court, she was a pioneer for civil rights. Her impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ Americans is incalculable: Legal recognition of queer lives, same-sex marriage equality, the decriminalization of “homosexuality,” and job protections. Her legacy will never be forgotten and continues to be a beacon of hope and inspiration to all. For more information

 

Tammy Baldwin

Tammy Baldin was born in Madison, Wisconsin. There she was raised by her grandparents. At nine years old, she was diagnosed with a childhood illness, and was consistently in hospitals. Her grandparents' health insurance refused to list Tammy as a dependent, and her medical bills had to be paid out of pocket. No insurance would accept Baldwin as she had been classified as having a “pre-existing condition”.

Baldwin used this to fuel her passion for politics, and in 1998 she ran as the first openly gay candidate for Congress. There, she served seven terms and championed the Affordable Care Act, RAISE Family Caregivers Act, and Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Presently, Baldin serves in the U.S. Senate for Wisconsin. She has been a steadfast voice for LGBT and women’s issues, including gay marriage and anti-discrimination policies. For more information

 

Elliot Page

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Page grew up interested in theater and acting. He started in Canadian television before gaining international fame for his roles in: Juno, Hard Candy, X-Men, and more recently Umbrella Academy. Page is known for being a trans actor and producer who is an outspoken LGBTQ+ activist. He regularly raises money for LGBTQ+ charities, and uses his platform to call out, question and challenge queerphobia. For more information 

 

Billy Porter

Born on September 21, 1969, Billy Porter knew he loved the arts at a very young age. With the support of his family, he attended Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama in Pittsburgh, graduating in 1991. Afterwards he was cast in the broadway shows: Miss Saigon, for which he won three Tony Awards, Five Guys Named Moe, Smokey Joe’s Café, the 1994 revival of Grease, and Kinky Boots. Besides his successful career in theatre, Porter is an activist for gay rights. He uses his platform to support nonprofits focused on LGBTQ+ issues, sharing his story about what it is like living with HIV, and in 2020 he was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people. For more information