On the promenade in R.A. Apffel Park/East Beach on Galveston Island, Texas stands the Pink Dolphin Monument—a statue dedicated to gender and sexual minorities in the southern United States. It’s the first monument of its kind, not only in Texas but also in the south. A poem quietly celebrates diversity along the base of the monument.
It takes the form of an Amazon river dolphin, an animal that is not native to the area but can be seen in the logo of the local LGBTQ+ activist organization Pink Posse, as well as in the name of Galveston’s beloved Pink Dolphin Tavern. Conceived and sculpted by artist Joe Joe Orangias in collaboration with writer Dr. Sarah Sloane and Dr. Frank Pega, the monument was inaugurated in 2014.
Nicknamed “Sandy” by park staff, the monument is supported by a five-foot plinth designed to create an impression of the dolphin jumping overhead above the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It was carved from a red sandstone boulder sourced from the Texas coast, resulting in a total of 243 chips. Each chip was also carved into tiny monuments by Orangias and buried at numerous sites around the island, literally inserting the history and hardships of gender and sexual minorities into the landscape.