Lech Walesa Street Renamed Dr. Tom Waddell Place

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to change the name of Lech Walesa Street to Dr. Tom Waddell Place.

Supervisor Jane Kim proposed the name change earlier this year after Lech Walesa, a Polish politician who won the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize after co-founding the Solidarity independent trade movement, said publicly that gay people should not hold prominent political positions.

Tom Waddell was a local gay activist who created the Gay Olympics, later renamed the Gay Games, and worked at a health center on the street that now bears his name. Waddell died of AIDS in 1987 at the age of 49.

The change “in no way takes away from Lech Walesa’s achievements,” Kim said when she introduced the proposal. “However, his recent comments are not representative of the city I’m a part of and its values of inclusiveness.”

The Tom Waddell Health Center includes a transgender clinic and “serves our most vulnerable and low-income residents,” Kim said.

The street is a small alleyway located between Grove and Hayes streets and Van Ness Avenue and Polk Street. The streets signs will continue to read “Lech Walesa Street” in smaller letters under the new name for a five-year transitional period.

Drew Himmelstein, Bay City News

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