Congratulations 2015 PrideFest Medal honorees

PrideFest-MedalPrideFest Milwaukee proudly recognizes this year’s PrideFest Medal honorees:

  • Washington Heights Rainbow Association
  • Genderqueer MKE
  • Don Schwamb

The PrideFest Medal recognizes significant service, achievement and contribution towards LGBT+ equality by individuals, organizations and businesses.  Nominees are received and approved by the Milwaukee Pride, Inc. Board of Directors.  All recipients are awarded at the annual Opening Ceremonies celebration.

washingtonheightsSince 1995, the Washington Heights Rainbow Association has made a tremendous positive impact on not only the Washington Heights neighborhood, but also the Milwaukee LGBT community.

The group formed to create a warm and welcoming for gay and lesbian residents of the Washington Heights neighborhood.  They are now the longest-lasting LGBT neighborhood association in the city of Milwaukee.   Through relentless volunteer support, the Association has also contributed to the long-term success of PrideFest Milwaukee.


Congratulations to the Association on their platinum anniversary — and for being one of our 2015 honorees!

GQMKEPrideFest Milwaukee has been honored to make the acquaintance of Genderqueer Milwaukee, an organization devoted to education, visibility and conversation around gender variant issues.  By bringing people together to think and talk about gender in new ways, Genderqueer Milwaukee confronts stereotypes, social bias and other obstacles that prevent people from being their best selves.

This year, Genderqueer Milwaukee provided valuable feedback about the transgender visitor experience that led to real world action. Through this collaboration, Genderqueer Milwaukee and PrideFest Milwaukee could ensure that ALL visitors felt welcome to enjoy a safe, meaningful and memorable experience at PrideFest 2015.   Thank you for your partnership!

Both archivist and activist, Don Schwamb has been bringing the Milwaukee LGBT community’s past into its present for years as director of the PrideFest History Exhibit.  He is also the creator and operator of the extensive and informative Milwaukee GLBT History Project website.

volunteer-2015“Don’s passion for education is both commendable and critical,” said Scott Gunkel, president of Milwaukee Pride, Inc.  “He has documented an era of Milwaukee history that you’ll never read about in history books.  Without his tireless preservation of our shared local history, much of this knowledge would be forgotten within one to two generations.  It would be very easy to forget how we came from then to now, and all of the challenges and triumphs we shared as a community since then.”

Don’s long-standing contributions will continue to educate and inspire LGBT pride for decades to come.  Congratulations Don!

Would you like to nominate a person, organization or business for the 2016 PrideFest Medal?  Contact us at


About the PrideFest Medal

In honor of PrideFest’s 20th Anniversary, the PrideFest board of directors voted to institute a special award, the PrideFest Medal, in 2007.

The PrideFest Medal is presented by consent of the board of directors in recognition of individuals, organizations, and corporations for significant achievement towards the advance of the LGBT struggle for equality. It may be awarded to individuals for philanthropy, outstanding leadership, and volunteerism; to organizations for their contributions to the betterment of LGBT life; and to corporations for their long term financial or social support of the LGBT community.

Executed in sterling silver and enamel, the medal depicts three symbolic elements: the pink triangle supported by hands and six pillars. Each pillar has an enamel center representing the LGBT rainbow colors. It is worn suspended from a red neck ribbon.

The lower pillars buttress the triangle. They symbolize diversity to be joined as the foundation of our strength, resolve and commitment. The upper pillars are joined as a wall. Together, they represent our diversity as a unified force joined through the common cause of our struggle for equality.

In the center, the pink triangle represents our persecution. It is held aloft as both a warning and as a sign of courage by the hands of past victims and present activists. The red neck ribbon symbolizes our martyrs. They are the countless known and unknown victims of hatred throughout our past history as well as those, like Matthew Shepard, who, in more recent times, have perished or been victimized by oppression. Their memory calls on us to the continue struggle against intolerance to achieve justice and equality.

The ribbon suspension is decorated with triangles in relief.