GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Loschue Lo wanted to send a message to young queer people through the first mural he's ever painted.
“It’s really important to have that representation in this community," he said. "For the intersectionality of being queer as well as being a person of color. They walk by here every day and seeing that might hopefully inspire them to coming out, or helping them understand who they are and making them feel visible.“
Founded in 1982, the Napalese Lounge and Grille in Green Bay is the second-oldest gay bar in the state of Wisconsin. This week, Lo, the UWGB art student whose concept was selected by a mural project committee, began tracing, putting down tape and painting. His mural will depict the progressive pride flag, with transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera and the words ‘We will be seen.'
“I believe that this mural is very important to the community of Green Bay because there hasn’t been anything like this," said Lo. "I remember when I was introduced to this project, I was driving around getting some inspiration, and I realized that there was no mural in the city of Green Bay that was diversified or made any sort of statement.“
The Napalese Lounge has been the only place queer people in the community could go to have fun without fear, said Martha, mural project coordinator.
“Historically, gay bars were tucked away in corners because they didn’t want to draw negative attention that’s often followed them," she said. "There were not places where they could go, and here they always found a home, a welcome, and affirmation of who they are, authentically are. Initially, there was a front door, which has since been sealed, and it was sealed because vandals would come by to harass the gay community and throw junk inside the bar. That day is gone."
Since announcing the project, organizations from The Canary Fund to Dave and Buster's have stepped up to sponsor it.
“Everybody just responded so positively that it really became a lightning rod for our community," said Justis Tenpenny, mural project community organizer. "Having an ally that has your back and stands up with you is a huge deal and means so much to all of us.“
This pride month, the local LGBTQ+ community is reflecting on progress, he said.
“Pride began as a fight for our rights when we really decided that enough was enough and we were going to stand up," said Tenpenny.
Although people recognize that there is still work to be done.
“Pride month is an opportunity for us to tell our stories," said Martha. "And it’s our stories that make us real, and not just a figment of people’s imagination or an object of ridicule or humor.“
The official unveiling will be during the Weekend of Pride on August 21st. There will be a block party with live entertainment, drag performances, food and more. Thanks to a facade grant from the city, the lounge will also unveil a new front door.