Vietnam War veteran Leonard Matlovich famously said, “They gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

That's part of a new, traveling tribute to the contributions of the world's LGBT people throughout 4,000 years of history. It's a curving wall which may someday command the same sort of attention as, say, the half-sized replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall which goes from town to town.

Creator Victor Salvo says, “We decided we really wanted to concentrate on the state of Illinois. This is our home, and we also sort of wanted to 'work the bugs out' before we go national in 2017.” He says the wall grew from the Halsted Street Legacy Walk.

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October being LGBT History Month, the Legacy Wall is in the first floor atrium of the Illinois State Library before spending November at Chicago State University. Then there's a statewide tour.

You may know George Washington Carver for his peanut research, but now you'll know him for his homosexuality.

“It just lends some credibility the whole notion that 'it gets better,'” says Jenna Cooley, who runs the Phoenix Center in Springfield. She says the message to young people struggling with being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is that they can say, “I can pretty much do and be anything I want. All these folks made it through. So can I.”

Cooley admits it probably never got better for those of earlier times.


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