Civic Center Park art highlights history of gay rights movement

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DENVER — Pride festivities are underway in the Mile High City. June marks 50 years since the Stonewall riots in New York City, representing the start of America’s modern-day gay rights movement. That history inspired Denver-area artist Lonnie Hanzon to create a public display that celebrates Gay Pride history.

Hanzon is in his fifth year of working with other artists to create public art for Denver Pride. This year, his installation will focus on where we’ve come as a society.

“It’s fun to see when people really dig it,” he said.

“Stonewall 50: Progress & Reflection” is a walk through history at Civic Center Park. There are 83 panels representing momentous events in the struggle for LGBTQ rights.

“Sort of taking ripped-from-the-headlines moments,” Hanzon explained.

In Hanzon’s exhibit, those moments start in 1863, when cross dressing was illegal in San Francisco. The panels continue chronologically through the decades — showcasing moments of both progress and setbacks in the movement.

The focus, however, is on that 1969 flash point at New York City’s Stonewall Inn. The riots and protests were directed at police for targeting people for their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Amid the panels are 20 mirrors that pull viewers into the history.

The art will be installed in the heart of Denver’s Civic Center Park Friday morning. The display will be in place throughout the weekend.

The artists behind “Stonewall 50: Progress & Reflection” volunteered their time and talents. Supplies were funded through the GLBT Community Center of Colorado and the Hanzon Foundation.

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