A San Francisco supervisor said he’s open to reconsidering the name of Lech Walesa Street following homophobic comments made by the Polish democratic leader and union organizer who toppled his country’s communist regime in the early 1990s.
Lech Walesa Street is a small alleyway near City Hall on which, ironically, sits the Tom Waddell Health Center’s transgender clinic.
Recently, Walesa ignited a firestorm when he stated during a television interview that, “No minority should climb all over the majority.”
Referring to gay officials in the nation’s parliament, the former Polish president continued, “Homosexuals should even sit behind a wall, and not somewhere at the front.”
Supervisor David Campos — who is openly gay and noted that, growing up, Walesa was “one of my heroes” — said that “we’re not foreclosing” on the possibility of changing the name of the thoroughfare formerly known as Ivy Street.
“I have really mixed feelings,” Campos said. “On the one hand, what he said is just horrible. For someone who is a Nobel laureate to make those kinds of hateful statements about entire groups of people is just disappointing; you want to push back and send a message. At the same time, Lech Walesa has been recognized for what he did in Poland.”
An Oct. 5, 1986, ceremony marked the renaming of Ivy Street to Lech Walesa Street. According to an Associated Press report at the time, musician Joan Baez and “100 members of the Polish community” joined “civic, union and human rights figures” to show their solidarity with the Solidarity leader.
Campos is the major proponent of adding the name of slain Supervisor Harvey Milk to San Francisco International Airport to provide a symbol of hope for LGBT individuals worldwide. In that case, travelers departing the potential future Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport and jetting to Gdansk would deplane at Lech Walesa Airport.