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Leave your mark on Pride Park!

SAN DIEGO -- A community fundraising effort is in full swing to make the LGBT historical monument planned for the base of the Hillcrest Pride Flag a reality.

The effort is aimed at making sure that any community member who wishes to "leave their mark" on the park is able to do so with donation levels starting at $100.

The Hillcrest Pride Flag was installed last July and has swiftly become an important community landmark. Installed and maintained by the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA), plans are in the works for "Phase 2" of the project, which will include the monument to be built around the flagpole's base.

The flagpole and monument will be something that will allow generations of people who visit Hillcrest to reflect upon the vibrant history of the LGBT community that is a part of neighborhood's heritage. The monument will focus on four periods of the LGBT community's history in Hillcrest, starting with the time before the neighborhood was considered an LGBT hub, the area's transformation, the challenging struggles with HIV/AIDS and civil rights in the 1980s and 1990s, and the community as it is today.

Benjamin Nicholls, executive director of the HBA, said that this project is unique because it has been completely community driven from the start.

"One of the best things about this project is that it is a community effort," Nicholls told SDGLN. "The money to pay for the flag, and now for the historical monument, is all being donated by the community. This is a very real way that people who care about their community can demonstrate their pride in a very real way."

Those who support the project with a donation of at least $100 will be able to have their name etched into a tile on the monument, leaving their mark on the park for decades to come. The fundraising effort is set-up in a way so that people of all income levels can easily make a donation, or gather their friends to raise funds together.

"The unique fundraising program that the committee came up with means that folks don't have to be wealthy to be a part of this monument," Nicholls said. "You and you friends can fund raise together and be a part of history."

San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, who represents the district that Hillcrest is in, spoke to the importance of the monument.

“Honoring past achievements with this public monument at the Pride Flag’s base will provide context for how far the LGBT community has come in San Diego," Gloria said. "With this memorial, residents and visitors will understand our community’s struggles and successes as we continue to work for full equality."

Four pre-set donation levels are available, or donors can select their own amount. Donation levels include:

- Life Rainbow: For a $5,000 donation, Life Rainbow level donors will get large, premium placement at the top of the base of the monument.

- Icon: For a $1,000 donation, Icon level donors get placement at the middle of the base of the monument.

- Hero: For a $500 donation, Hero level donors get small placement at the bottom of the base.

- Friend of the Flag: For a $100 donation, Friend of the Flag level donors will have their name etched into the existing tiles around the foundation of the monument in groups.

Johnathan Hale, publisher of San Diego Gay & Lesbian News and one of the lead organizers behind the monument's fundraising efforts, said he hopes that community members will consider being a part of this important marker in LGBT history.

"Everyone has the opportunity to 'make their mark' on this project, and have their name etched into our community's history," Hale said. "For generations to come, people who visit the monument will be able to reflect on the struggles of the local LGBT community from the 1960s through today, and how exciting would it be to have your name included in that history? Please consider making a donation today!"

Donations can be made online HERE. Those who wish to make a donation via check can find mailing information at that link. All donations are tax deductible and will be acknowledged appropriately by the Hillcrest Community Foundation.

Organizers hope to have the monument installed in time for this year's San Diego LGBT Pride celebrations, taking place July 12-14.