GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – It was a pretty hot day on Friday to be standing on a ladder in the sun, but volunteers at Napalese Lounge in Green Bay said they want the place to look its best for the upcoming Weekend of Pride.
“It’s an opportunity for the LGBTQ+ community to come together and really celebrate our talents and our presence in Green Bay,” explains Justis Tenpenny, Communications Director for the Pride Event.
One of those talents will be revealed with the unveiling of a mural painted on the east side of Napalese’s building.
“I hope that this mural will help empower those who feel the way that I felt,” says UWGB artist Chue Lo. “I felt like they’ve gotten their voices taken away from them.”
Lo identifies as a queer person of color. He says he had no idea the impact his painting would have on the community until he overhead a teen girl talking to her friends as he was working on his depiction of two influential transgender women of color.
“She pointed to it and said ‘Wow, she looks like me!’ and just hearing that really brought me to tears,” Lo shares.
Tears of pride weren’t always the case among the LGBTQ+ community in Green Bay, as those at Napalese know all too well.
“People would walk by (the front door) and they’d throw fireworks and firecrackers, water balloons into the bar to kind of scare patrons for being a gay bar, serving gay patrons,” Tenpenny explains. “So, the front door was then sealed.”
A new front door to Napalese, also to be unveiled over the Weekend of Pride, has a significance of its own. The city of Green Bay opening the door to the lLGBTQ+ community with acceptance and pride.
“We’re super excited to have the mayor joining us to be the person to open that door to welcome in this new era of affirmation and visibility to the queer community,” says Tenpenny.
Lo says his mural features two transgender women of color who made huge contributions to the gay liberation era but were never recognized for it. The mural is scheduled to be unveiled in a ceremony at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 21.