Hit the road, Lech Walesa.
A San Francisco supervisor Tuesday proposed renaming a city street whose current namesake, the Polish politician Walesa, caused controversy earlier this month when he made anti-gay remarks.
Lech Walesa Street, a small alleyway located between Grove and Hayes streets and Van Ness Avenue and Polk Street, would be renamed Dr. Tom Waddell Place after a local gay activist under Tuesday’s proposal by Supervisor Jane Kim.
Walesa, who won the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize after co-founding the Solidarity independent trade movement in Poland, said in a TV interview on March 1 that gay people should not be allowed to hold prominent political posts.
The name change “in no way takes away from Lech Walesa’s achievements,” Kim said.
“However, his recent comments are not representative of the city I’m a part of and its values of inclusiveness.”
The street is home to the Tom Waddell Health Center, which includes a transgender clinic, and Kim is proposing changing the name to honor Waddell, who worked at the center and also created the Gay Olympics, later renamed the Gay Games.
Waddell was diagnosed with AIDS and died in 1987 at the age of 49, but the center named after him continues to be “an important resource for our city,” Kim said. “It serves our most vulnerable and low-income residents.”
If approved and implemented, the street signs on the alleyway would still have “Lech Walesa Street” in smaller letters underneath the new name for five years before fully transitioning to the new name.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News