Orton Park Gay Lib Statue

1986 Madison, WI
George Segal's "Gay Liberation" statue had a short and controversial Madison stay. The white-coated bronze sculpture, consisting of two life-sized male figures standing and two female figures seated on a real park bench, was commissioned and created in 1980 to commemorate the Stonewall riots that took place in New York's Christopher Square in 1968. The rioting was a response by gay New Yorkers to police harassment, but the city originally declined the offer.

It was then that the Madison Art Center seized the chance to obtain the work, and in 1986 the work was placed in Orton Park. Its stay there was extended year by year until 1991, when it was returned to New York.

Madisonians reacted to the sculpture in Orton Park in opposing ways. Some wrapped woolly scarves around the figures' necks in cold weather, as if they were dolls, or sat companionably on the park bench beside the figures. Other people threw paint. Four young men pleaded no contest to reduced misdemeanor charges for vandalizing the statue, and were placed on 24-month probation and sentenced to 100 hours each of community service.