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Louis Escobar, a Toledo trailblazer who paved the way for others, is honored with a street in his name

Louis Escobar was elected to Toledo City Council in 1997 and was the city's first openly gay councilman. The Latino man served his community in many different ways.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo honored a trailblazer in the LGBTQ and Latino communities on Wednesday by renaming a portion of a downtown street Wednesday.

Toledo voters elected Louis Escobar to Toledo City Council In 1997, and he paved the way for other gay and Latino politicians, as he was the first openly gay man and the first Latino to serve on council. Escobar died on Aug. 29, 2020.

"I don't think he saw it as being a roadblock, and that too many of us saw it as a roadblock where we can't, I won't, I won't be good, I won't be able to be that," said Escobar's longtime friend, Jim Seaman.

Now, the pavement adjacent to Toledo's Love Wall is a bridge of rainbows in his honor and bears the name "Louis Escobar Way."

Seaman, Escobar's friend since high school, said it's an honor to witness the recognition for his friend as Toledo heads into Pride weekend.

"It takes a phenomenal city, a phenomenal city to recognize differences, and not only to recognize it but to honor it," Seaman said.

Escobar was a priest before being called to serve in the public sector.

That's when his council career came about. Afterward, he worked with public housing and numerous service organizations.

His partner of 32 years, Kelly Altenberger, said the painted street is the perfect refection of Escobar's lasting impact, reminding everyone of the true reason for Pride.

"It was more than challenging once or twice, but if there was anyone up to the challenge, it was Louis. One of the things was when he decided to do things, he worked his hardest," Altenberger said.

Where there was a challenge, Escobar made a pathway. Now, there's one right downtown with his name on it.

"For those who know Louis, he really did want his way. This is a very fitting designation," Altenberger said. 

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