Harvey Milk Park will add new LGBTQ activist names to Memorial Wall

Reba Birmingham, left, will be inducted to the Harvey Milk Park’s Equality Plaza Memorial Wall during a public ceremony Thursday. Her wife, Stephanie Loftin, right, was inducted to the memorial wall in 2016. Photo: Q Voice News

LONG BEACH — The names of six local LGBTQ champions will be memorialized this week at Long Beach’s Harvey Milk Promenade Park, the first park in the nation named after California’s first openly gay elected official.

The six people will be added to Equality Plaza Memorial Wall during a public ceremony at the park on Thursday at 11 a.m.

The park has been under construction for several weeks as it’s transformed into an “outdoor office,” retail space, and gathering space. 

Harvey Milk Park, which opened in 2013 in downtown at Third Street and The Promenade, honors and recognizes leaders in the local LGBTQ people who have used their time, talents, and passion to help advance the LGBTQ community in the same spirit as Milk.

Along with plaques commemorating these leaders and activists, the plaza includes a concrete replica of the soapbox Milk stood on and spoke from to inspire crowds, and a 20-foot flagpole flying the LGBTQ pride flag.

LGBTQ activists listed on the wall include activist Lee Glaze, attorney Stephanie Loftin, historian David Hensley, Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride co-founders Judi Doyle, Bob Crow, and Marilyn Barlow, former Signal Hill Councilwoman and activist Ellen Ward, among others.

Here are this year’s inductees:

Raul A. Añorve, chair of the Harvey Milk Park Equality Plaza Selection Committee

Reba Birmingham, an attorney and long-time LGBTQ activist. Birmingham is married to Loftin, who was added to the wall in 2016.

Jewels, local drag queen royalty has been a staunch advocate for HIV prevention and treatment, the Long Beach AIDS Food Store, and the CARE Program at St. Mary Medical Center

John Newell, president and board chair of the AIDS Food Store

Mina Kay Meyer and Sharon Raphael, a powerhouse couple who were together 45 years, they were fierce lesbian activists who also advocated for gay and lesbian seniors. Meyer died in 2016. She was 74.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.