GREEN BAY, Wis. – A Green Bay artist is painting his first mural on a business he said made him feel safe enough to be his true self.
Loschue Lo was raised in Oshkosh. He said moving to Green Bay was a big deal because, as a gay man, he wasn’t sure he would be as accepted by the community as he felt he was in Oshkosh.
“Being a queer person of color coming to a town like Green Bay, it was very very intimidating,” Lo said.
Lo found a safe space in Napalese Lounge and Grille.
Justis Tenpenny said Napalese is Wisconsin’s second-longest-running gay bar, behind Milwaukee's This Is It! that was founded in 1968. Napalese was established in 1982 and has been at its current location on Cedar Street since the early 2000s.
Tenpenny said the bar served as a beacon for the LGBTQ+ community and continues that legacy today despite owners and patrons not always feeling welcomed in the city.
“People would open the front door and they would throw fireworks and bottle rockets and water balloons in to the bar as well as harass the patrons at the time,” Tenpenny said.
Now they get to honor the building and the LBGTQ+ community with a mural Lo is painting of the progressive LGBTQ+ flag. The flag is different from the more widely known six-stripe rainbow design by adding five additional colors that represent other groups within the community like people of color and trans individuals.
Martha is a long-time resident of Green Bay. She only goes by one name when in public as her true self because she said she’s still semi-closeted. Martha is a trans woman. She’s helping Lo paint the mural.
“It feels so good to make this happen,” Martha said.
She said her experience in Green Bay hasn’t always been easy.
“When I first started to come out it was a terror to walk into a store to buy women’s clothing or whatever,” she said. “Now there’s much more openness. This has been a safe place.”
Lo is including two trans women of color in the mural to honor the part of the community he said is most marginalized. He said they were pioneers in the battle for equality and fair treatment. He considers Napalese to be the same.
“Napalese has done a lot for me personally. It’s made me feel safer here in the city of Green Bay and also just building connections with so many people here,” Lo said.
Napalese will celebrate the mural at an unveiling Aug. 21.