Harvey Milk: Milk vs. The Machine
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Harvey Milk: Milk vs. The Machine Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Milk The Machine vs. NinaChan
  • 2. Milk vs. The Machine
  • 3. Milk vs.The Machine Nina Chan ncnc publishing company s a n f r a n c i s c o
  • 4. Copyright © 2010 by NC Publishing Company 123 Main Street, San Francisco, California Printed in United States of America All rights reserved. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Chan, Nina Milk vs. The Machine/Nina Chan. The text in this book is composed in: Body Copy: Optima Regular (9/12) Title Page: Rockwell Regular (60pt) Book Design by: Nina Chan ISBN 0-8109-3527-9
  • 5. “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”
  • 6. pg. 11 pg. 39 SUPERVISOR MILK pg. 65 HOPE LIVES ON HARVEY RUNS AGAIN pg. 97 EARLY YEARS
  • 7. Part 1 the early years
  • 8. “All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”
  • 9. growing up Milk was born in Woodmere, New York, on Long Island, to William Milk and Minerva Karns. He was the younger son of Lithuanian Jewish parents and the grandson of Morris Milk, a department store owner who helped to organize the first synagogue in the area. As a child, Harvey was teased for his protruding ears, big nose, and oversized feet, and tended to grab attention as a class clown. He played football in school, and developed a passion for opera; in his teens, he acknowledged his homosexuality, but kept it a guarded secret. Under his name in the high school yearbook, it read, “Glimpy Milk—and they say WOMEN are never at a loss for words”. Milk graduated from Bay Shore High School in Bay Shore, New York, in 1947 and attended New York State College for Teachers in Albany (now the State University of New York at Albany) from 1947 to 1951, majoring in mathematics. He wrote for the college newspaper and earned a reputation as a gregarious, friendly student. None of his friends in high school or college suspected that he was gay. As one classmate remembered, “He was never thought of as a possible queer—that’s what you called them then—he was a man’s man”. Returning to NewYork, he took a job teaching high school. By this time, Milk was living openlywithhislover,JoeCampbell,thoughhestill kept his homosexuality hidden from his family. After a couple of years, Milk left teaching. He tried his hand at a number of other occupations before landing a job with the Wall Street investment firm Bache and Company in 1963. At Bache, Milk discovered that he had a knack for finance and investment, and his rise through the corporate world was swift. Growing Up 13 Childhood in New York
  • 10. 14 Milk vs. The Machine Milk was born in Woodmere, New York, on Long Island, to William Milk and Minerva Karns. He was the younger son of Lithuanian Jewish parents and the grandson of Morris Milk, a department store owner who helped to organize the first synagogue in the area. As a child, Harvey was teased for his protruding ears, big nose, and oversized feet, and tended to grab attention as a class clown. He played football in school, and developed a passion for opera; in his teens, he acknowledged his homosexuality, but kept it a guarded secret. Under his name in the high school yearbook, it read, “Glimpy Milk—and they say WOMEN are never at a loss for words”. Milk graduated from Bay Shore High School in Bay Shore, New York, in 1947 and attended New York State College for Teachers in Albany (now the State University of New York at Albany) from 1947 to 1951, majoring in mathematics. He wrote for the college newspaper and earned a reputation as a gregarious, friendly student. None of his friends in high school or college suspected that he was gay. As one classmate remembered, “He was never thought of as a possible queer—that’s what you called them then—he was a man’s man”. Returning to New York, Milk took a job teaching high school. By this time, Milk was Fig-1: Young Harvey, Coney Island, New York, 1942 Fig-2: Harvey Milk as a young boy in Woodmere, New York living openly with his lover, Joe Campbell, though he still kept his homosexuality hidden from his family. After a couple of years, Milk left teaching. He tried his hand at a number of other occupations before landing a job with the Wall Street investment firm Bache and Company in 1963. At Bache, Milk discovered that he had a knack for finance and investment, and his rise through the corporate world was swift.
  • 11. Growing Up 15 Milk was born in Woodmere, NewYork, on Long Island, to William Milk and Minerva Karns. He was the younger son of Lithuanian Jewish parents and the grandson of Morris Milk, a department store owner who helped to organize the first synagogue in the area. As a child, Harvey was teased for his protruding ears, big nose, and oversized feet, and tended to grab attention as a class clown. He played football in school, and developed a passion for opera; in his teens, he acknowledged his homosexuality, but kept it a guarded secret. Under his name in the high school yearbook, it read, “Glimpy Milk—and they say WOMEN are never at a loss for words”. Milk graduated from Bay Shore High School in Bay Shore, New York, in 1947 and attended New York State College for Teachers in Albany (now the State University of NewYork at Albany) from 1947 to 1951, majoring in mathematics. He wrote for the college newspaper and earned a reputation as a gregarious, friendly student. None of his friends in high school or college suspected that he was gay. As one classmate remembered, “He was never thought of as a possible queer—that’s what you called them then—he was a man’s man”. Returning to New York, Milk took a job teaching high school. By this time, Milk was living openly with his lover, Joe Campbell, Fig-4: Harvey Milk and friends in Los Angeles, California, 1955
  • 12. 16 Milk vs. The Machine Fig-4: Harvey Milk in navy dress whites, circa 1955
  • 13. Growing Up 17 Milk was born in Woodmere, New York, on Long Island, to William Milk and Minerva Karns. He was the younger son of Lithuanian Jewish parents and the grandson of Morris Milk, a department store owner who helped to organize the first synagogue in the area. As a child, Harvey was teased for his protruding ears, big nose, and oversized feet, and tended to grab attention as a class clown. He played football in school, and developed a passion for opera; in his teens, he acknowledged his homosexuality, but kept it a guarded secret. Under his name in the high school yearbook, it read, “Glimpy Milk—and they say WOMEN are never at a loss for words”. Milk graduated from Bay Shore High School in Bay Shore, New York, in 1947 and at- tended New York State College for Teachers in Albany (now the State University of New York at Albany) from 1947 to 1951, majoring in mathe- matics. He wrote for the college newspaper and earned a reputation as a gregarious, friendly stu- dent. None of his friends in high school or col- lege suspected that he was gay. As one classmate remembered, “He was never thought of as a possible queer—that’s what you called them then—he was a man’s man”. Returning to New York, Milk took a job teaching high school. By this time, Milk was living openly with his lover, Joe Campbell, though he still kept his homosex- uality hidden from his family. Fig-5: Harvey Milk in Texas, circa 1957
  • 14. castro camera 18 Milk vs. The Machine Milk was born in Woodmere, New York, on Long Island, to William Milk and Minerva Karns. He was the younger son of Lithuanian Jewish parents and the grandson of Morris Milk, a department store owner who helped to organize the first synagogue in the area. As a child, Harvey was teased for his protruding ears, big nose, and oversized feet, and tended to grab attention as a class clown. He played football in school, and developed a passion for opera; in his teens, he acknowledged his homosexuality, but kept it a guarded secret. Under his name in the high school yearbook, it read, “Glimpy Milk—and they say WOMEN are never at a loss for words”. Milk graduated from Bay Shore High School in Bay Shore, New York, in 1947 and attended New York State College for Teachers in Albany (now the State University of New York) from 1947 to 1951, majoring in mathematics. He wrote for the college newspaper and earned a reputation as a gregarious, friendly student. None of his friends in high school or college suspected that he was gay. As one classmate remembered, “He was never thought of as a possible queer—that’s what you called them then—he was a man’s man”. Returning to New York, Milk took a job teaching high school. By this time, Milk was living openly with his lover, Joe Campbell, though he still kept his homosexuality hidden from his family. After a couple of years, Milk left teaching. He tried his hand at a number of other occupations before landing a job with the Wall Street investment firm Bache and Company in 1963. At Bache, Milk discovered that he had a knack for finance and investment, and his rise through the corporate world was swift. Starting the Business Fig-6: Rich Nichols and Harvey Milk, February 1977
  • 15. Castro Camera 19 Despite the clarity of his populist vision, his piercing assessment of the socio-economic crisis confronting contemporary America, and his eloquent defense of personal liberties, HarveyMilkhasbeenforgottenbythemajorityof Americans.Hisisnotahouseholdname,invoking only blank stares or the faintest glimmer of recognition.Itistragicallyironicthatthenotorious “twinkie defense” of his assassin is better remembered by Americans than the mercurial Milk himself. Those who do remember Milk remember him only as a “minor” footnote in American history--the first openly homosexual man to be popularly elevated into elective office in the United States. To remember Milk solely for his sexual orientation, however, is not only to misunderstand him, but his concept of gay pride as well. Harvey Milk was one of the most charismatic and pragmatic populists of the past half-century, a man of remarkable organizationaltalentwhonevercompromisedhis vision of “a city of neighborhoods” nor sought to hide his homosexuality. Harvey Milk never intended to enter the political arena until he moved to San Francisco in 1972. Prior to Milk’s arrival, San Francisco’s burgeoning homosexual population lacked a sense of community, and consequently its political empowerment had been stunted. note 1 The city’s homosexual intelligentsia--weary of bearing the brutal brunt of police persecution and public vilification--had organized several “educational” societies--designed to enlighten public opinion on the subject of homosexuality in the early seventies. Since the idea of an openly homosexual running for office in a city which still classified homosexuality as “a crime against nature”--punishable by up to ten years in prison--seemed ludicrous to the homosexual intelligentsia, an integral component of these societies were their political action committees. The homosexual PACs quickly succeeded in drawing sympathetic “liberal friends” from the Democratic party to their convocations, who- -in return for their endorsement, promised to shield open homosexuals from officially sanctioned victimization. For the first time in American history, “mainstream” political figures treated their homosexual constituents with dignity and respect, actively courting their support. The success of homosexual PACs was due in no small part to the fact that, “in this city of fewer than 700,000 people, approximately one out of every five adults and perhaps one out of every
  • 16. 20 Milk vs. The Machine most charismatic and pragmatic populists of the past half-century, a man of remarkable organi- zational talent who never compromised his vision of “a city of neighborhoods” nor sought to hide his homosexuality. Harvey Milk never intended to enter the political arena until he moved to San Francisco in 1972. Prior to Milk’s arrival, San Francisco’s burgeoning homosexual population lacked a sense of community, and consequently its political empowerment had been stunted. note 1 The city’s homosexual intelligentsia--weary of bearing the brutal brunt of police persecution and public vilification--had organized several “educational” societies--designed to enlighten public opinion on the subject of homosexuality in the early seventies. Since the idea of an openly homosexual running for office in a city which still classified homosexuality as “a crime against nature”--punishable by up to ten years in prison--seemed ludicrous to the homosexual intelligentsia, an integral component of these societies were their political action committees. The homosexual PACs quickly succeeded in drawing sympathetic “liberal friends” from the Democratic party to their convocations, who in return for their endorsement, promised to shield open homosexuals from officially sanctioned victimization. For the first time in American history, “mainstream” political figures treated their homosexual constituents with dignity and respect, actively courting their support. The success of homosexual PACs was due in no small part to the fact that, “in this city of fewer than 700,000 people, approximately one out of every five adults and perhaps one out of every three or four voters was gay.” note 2 At least half of the total homosexual population--like Milk himself--had moved to San Francisco between 1969 and 1977, bringing with them a bold assertiveness which had been sparked by the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York City. Milk recognized the parallels between the growing gay enclaves and the traditional ethnic neighborhoods that made up the crazy-quilt fabric of San Francisco. Many of these ethnic enclaves--such as the Irish and Italian sections of the city--had long since turned what had initially been a liability--their insularity--into a source of municipal power. It seemed only logical to Milk that the gay neighborhoods follow suit. If the homosexual vote was significant enough for “re- spectable” politicians to run the risk of alienat- ing San Francisco’s conservative on themselves. Fig-7: Voter registration table in front of Castro Camera, 1974
  • 17. The Early Years 21
  • 18. 22 Milk vs. The Machine Fig-8: Scott Smith selling film at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade, 1974
  • 19. The Campaign Team 23 Despite the clarity of his populist vision, his piercing assessment of the socio-economic crisis confronting contemporary America, and his eloquent defense of personal liberties, Harvey Milk has been forgotten by the majority of Americans. His is not a household name, invoking only blank stares or the faintest glimmer of recognition. It is ironic that the notorious “twinkie defense” of his assassin is better remembered by Americans than the mercurial Milk himself. Those who do remember Milk remember him only as a “minor” footnote in American history--the first openly homosexual man to be popularly elevated into elective office in the United States. To remember Milk solely for his sexual orientation, however, is not only to misunderstand him, but his concept of gay pride as well. Harvey Milk was one of the most charismatic and pragmatic populists of the past half-century, a man of remarkable organizationaltalentwhonevercompromisedhis vision of “a city of neighborhoods” nor sought to hide his homosexuality. Harvey Milk never intended to enter the political arena until he moved to San Francisco in 1972. Prior to Milk’s arrival, San Francisco’s burgeoning homosexual population lacked a sense of community, and consequently its political empowerment had been stunted. note 1 The city’s homosexual intelligentsia--weary of bearing the brutal brunt of police persecution and public vilification--had organized several “educational” societies--designed to enlighten public opinion on the subject of homosexuality in the early seventies. Since the idea of an openly homosexual running for office in a city Lover and Friends which still classified homosexuality as “a crime against nature”--punishable by up to ten years in prison--seemed ludicrous to the homosexual intelligentsia, an integral component of these societies were their political action committees. The homosexual PACs quickly succeeded in drawing sympathetic “liberal friends” from the Democratic party to their convocations, who--in return for their endorsement, promised to shield open homosexuals from officially sanctioned victimization. For the first time in American history, “mainstream” political figures treated their homosexual constituents with dignity and respect, actively courting their support. the campaign team
  • 20. 24 Milk vs. The Machine scott smith Campaign Manager Known affectionately to friends as “the widow Milk,” Scott Smith was born in Key West, Florida, to a Navy couple who raised him in Jackson, Mississippi. He moved to New York in 1969, where he met and fell in love with Harvey Milk. Their relationship lasted seven years. In 1972 they moved to San Francisco and opened Castro Camera. After Harvey’s assassination Scott fought for and was awarded $5,500 in survivor’s death benefits by teh San Francisco retirement board. He died of AIDS-related pneumonia at age shortly after attending the premiere of the opera Harvey Milk “For a lot of straight people, Harvey was the first nonstereotypical gay person they had ever met. Harvey was just like everybody else. With his humor and his caring for people, he made people like him.” Fig-9: Scott Smith in New York City subway, 1970s
  • 21. anne kronenberg Campaign Manager Anne Kronenberg began her long career in government service as an aide to Supervisor Milk after having been campaign manager for his historic election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Anne was appointed to the State Board of Podiatric Medicin in 1998, serving as the President of the Board for three year and Vice President fo the Board for three years and Vice President for two. Prior to her tenure with the Department of Public Health, she was Director of the San Francisco Mayor’s Criminal Justice Council from 1991-1994. She co-chared the San Francisco Local Homeless Coordinating Board for three years, and she has chaired the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Single Room Occupancy Task Force since its inception in 1998. The Campaign Team 25 “When I came to San Francisco I became involved in the lesbian movement. Harvey called me his little dykette. I got so much from Harvey it’s hard to think that I offered him anything. Loyalty, dedication, a willing- ness to just soak it all in, I suppose. I was a sponge. Fig-10: Anne Kronenberg, 1977
  • 22. 26 Milk vs. The Machine cleve jones Cleve Jones, founder of The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, was born in West Lafayette, Indiana, in 1954. Cleve’s career as an activist began in San Francisco during the turbulent 1970s, when he was befriended by Harvey Milk. After Milk’s election Cleve worked in the office as a student intern while studying poltical science at San Francisco State University. After Harvey’s death Cleve dropped out of school and worked in Sacramento as a legislative consultant to California State Assembly Speakers Leo T. McCarthy and Willie L. Brown, Jr. in 1982 he returned to San Francsico to work int he district office of State Assemblyman Art Agnos. Cleve was elected to three terms on the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, and served on local and state commissions for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention and the Mission Mental Health Com- munity Advisory Board. Recognizing the threat of AIDS, Cleve co- founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 1983. He conceived the idea of AIDS Memorial Quilt at a candle- light memorial for Harvey Milk in 1985; he created the first quilt panel in honor of his close friend Marvin Feldman in 1987. “The first time I met Harvey was at the corner of Castro and 18th. He was passing out flyers. And he was flirty, like “You look good, I like the way your pants fit.” But not all in a way that was creepy.” Fig-11: Cleve Jones, 1979
  • 23. The Campaign Team 27 michaelwong Michael Wong met Harvey Milk in 1973 at a candidates’ night event. At the time, Michael was active in the SF Young Democrats, United Black Education Caucus, an Chinese American Democratic Club. It was in the Fred Harris for President campaign that Harvey won over many of his “straight” volunteers and friends, including Mr. Wong. As a result, Michael became an advisor for Harvey’s 1975 campaign for Supervisor and the 1976 State Assembly race, where the two became good friends. Milk soon began affectionately referring to Michael as “Lotus Blossom.” Michael retired from politics for a time after Bill Clinton won election in 1996, only to be pulled back into the poltical scene by the Barack Obama campaign in 2008. “I thought he was a nut. At the time Texas had somebody killing a lot of men, it was Texas homosexual murders. Harvey thought that he could get publicity ‘cause he was openly gay and the muderer might shoot him at a candidate night thing.” Milk’s Advisor Fig-12: Supervisor Milk and Michael Wong, 1978
  • 24. 28 Milk vs. The Machine Milk went on to deliver a theatrical hellfire and brimstone populist speech that stole the show from the more seasoned politicos who sought the club’s endorsement. Milk probably could have had the club’s endorsement by accalmation —except that when it came time to vote, Irwin and Wong repeated what Milk had told them before the meeting started. Wong also noted that the established gay leadership was fretting that Milk’s penchant for off-the-wall comments would give the local gay movement a black eye. Harvey lost the endorsement. The night typified Harvey’s first foray into electoral politics in the 1973 elections for the board of supervisors. He was among the most issue-conscious candidtates in the campaign, delighting liberals with his programs to wrest control of the city from real estate developers, tourist barons, and downton coporate interests. He had no intention of just being a gay candidate. His fiery oration rambled at times, but still enraptured audiences. His wit and showmanship gave him all the markings of a true San Francisco character, the kind of Politics as Theatre Fig-13: Harvey Milk as a clown, 1978
  • 25. The Early Years 29 idiosyncratic enrage that the city had long embraced as among its chief natural resources. That, however did not mean the city was going to elect him to run the government. Harvey became bored o working jigsaw ouzzles as the spring days of 1973 lengthened into summer, and Harvey hated being bored, Dianne Feinstein and four other board members were up for reelection, but Harvey had not thougt much about going into polticis, until a pompus bureaucrat, a dedicated teacher, and an absentminded attorney general all got him so mad that he had to do something. A chubby state bureaucrat appeared at Castro Camera shortly after the business opened to sternly warn Milk that he could not legally run his business until he paid the state a $100 deposit against sales taxes. The pronouncement rekindled all of Milk’s old resentments about govrenment interference in the economy. “You mean to tell me that if I don’t have one hundred dollars, I can’t run a business in free-enterprise America?” Harvey shouted. “You mean I have to be wealthy to operate a business in the State of California?” The ruffled official was not about to be pushed around by some hippie camera shop owner in some run-down neighborhood, so he started shouting right back. Customers who had been waiting for film quietly exited, prompting Milk to rant further, “I’m paying your fucking salary and you’re driving my customers away.” The bullheaded Milk stormed around state offices for weeks, upbraiding officials and finally bargaining the deposit down to thirty dollars. Peace might have returned to Castro Camera
  • 26. 30 Milk vs. The Machine GeneralJohnMitchell’sperformanceattheSenate Watergate hearings. Milk kept the portable television set in the camera store every day to watch the hearings. Customers frequently came in to find the wild-eyed, ponytailed over-aged hippie screaming at John Mitchell: “You lying son of a bitch, you lying son of a bitch.” One friend had to physically restrain Harvey from kicking in the screen when Mitchell started droning through his “I don’t recall” responses to questions about whether he was indeed trying to undermine the democratic processes during the 1972 elections. That was it. The country was going to hell in handbasket. Liars and crooks at its helm. Bureaucrats could run roughshod over small businessmen. Teachers weren’t being allowed to do their jobs. From all over the city, meanwhile, came stories that the 1973 elections had started to engender the traditional pre-election cleanup. Harvey figured he coud win with gay and hippie votes alone. Just before the filing deadline, Harvey decided on his eleventh hour candidacy. During the sixties and seventies, a steadily increasing number of San Francisco’s industries fled the city, opting to build new plants in the suburbs, rather than overhaul their aging and antiquated inner-city facilities. This urban flight eroded the city’s poorer neighborhoods, whose blue collar residents--mostly blacks and hispanics who had relied on the plants for their livelihood--could not afford to follow their jobs to the suburbs. Instead of offering business incentives to remain in San Francisco, the city’s civil administration--whose campaign had been heavily backed by developers, construction unions, and real estate concerns--launched an aggressive “urban renewal” campaign, which led to the razing of large segments of San Fran- cisco’s poorer ethnic neighborhoods to make room for office complexes and a mass transit system designed to lure tourists and corporate headquarters to the city. The fruits of the machine’s short-sighted “urban renewal” policy, was a shimmering skyline which was invaded daily by hordes of suburban-dwelling white-collar workers. At night, the skyline lay cold and vacant in the moonlight--its serene sterility obliterating the memory of the once vibrant neighborhood upon which it stood. The sterility of the sky- line, however, was deceptive. “The scar that’s left isn’t just the empty office building or the now vacant lot,” Milk warned, “it’s the worker who can no longer provide for his family, the teenager who suddenly awakens from the American Dream to find that all the jobs have gone south for the duration.” The city had been mutilatedbythemachine;itswoundslefttofester, astheinnercityneighborhoodscrumbled,andthe crime rate soared. “You see the empty buildings [where businesses used to be], but you don’t see the hopelessness, the loss of pride, the anger,” warned Milk. Milk passionately believed that the “true function of politics is not just to pass laws, but to give hope.” If the problems of the cities are not addressed, he warned, America’s cities will plunge headlong into “the real abyss that lies not too far ahead, when a disappointed people lose their hope forever. When that happens, everything we cherish will be lost.”The machine had betrayed the inner-city, selling it out to “ carpet-baggers who have fled to the suburbs,” leaving behind omnipresent “fire hazards” in every inner city neighboorhood irregardless of ethnicity. Milk viewed American cities as smoldering tinderboxes, which--unless defused, from the inside out--would continue to violently erupt, until the entire urban infrastructure of America was consumed by flames of rage.
  • 27. The Early Years 31Fig-14: Harvey Milk and friends
  • 28. 32 Milk vs. The Machine Fig-15: Harvey Milk, Sheriff Richard Hongisto, and Joyce Garay, 1977
  • 29. The Campaign Team 33 “Come out to your friends if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors, to your fellow workers, to the people who work where you eat and shop…” In his campaign speeches of 1973-1977, Milk outlined his plans to bridge the deepening divide between the haves and the have-nots which “machines” across the country were creating. The core of Milk’s populism was the simple belief that “the American Dream starts with the neighborhoods--if we wish to rebuild our cities, we must first rebuild our neighborhoods.” note 16 The city could only be saved by the industry of its residents, Milk maintained, not “governmental charity.” Rather than “face the problems it’s created,” and taking “responsibility for the problems it’s ignored,” the machine sought to bribe the urban poor with welfare programs. note 17 Instead of empowering the urban poor, these programs had actually trapped them in “concrete jungles,” caged within a vicious cycle of dependence. In order to break this dependence, Milk maintained, the neighborhoods must firmly grasp the reigns of power, in order to lead the city “down the route no major city has ever tried: That is the route that has little room for political payoffs and deals; that is the route that leaves little in the way of power politics; that is the route of making a city an exciting place for all to live: not just an exciting place for a few to live! A place for the individual and individual rights. There is no political gain in this nonmonied route and, thus you do not find people with high political ambitions leading this way. There are no statistics to quote--no miles of highways built to brag about, no statistics of giant buildings built under your administration. What you have instead is a city that breathes, one that is alive, where the people are more important than highways. By reprioritizing government spending, Milk believed, the neighborhoods could begin the process of rebuilding the city from within, by utilizing the resources which the machine had squandered. Simply by mandating that all city employees must be residents of the city, the neighborhoods would have taken a giant step forward, Milk argued. From a fiscal standpoint, it made no sense to do otherwise, since city employees are paid with the tax revenues the city has raised from its residents. If the employee lives in the city, the money
  • 30. 34 Milk vs. The Machine The Teamsters lauchned a boycott in response to Coors’ anti-union stance. There was a lot of racism in the company and, of course, they wouldn’t hire gay people. But the Coors boycott was so important because Harvey met this very straight, older Teamster organizer Allan Baird and Harvey saw this opportunity, which was one of his most significant contributions, to form a gay-labor alliance. Allan and Harvey becamefastfriends.ThiswasHarvey’sgift,hisabil- ity to befriend and create genuine relationships. He was all about connecting, whether it was reaching out to an old Irish widow who didn’t like gay boys smoking pot on her stairs or to a macho truckers’ union. But beyond that, those of us from the left who were more political got to see the gay struggle as being part of a larger struggle for peace and social justice around the world.The trade off was, “I’ll make sure that Coors beer isn’t sold in any gay bars, but I hope you will increase the number of gay truck drivers, gay delivery men.” It worked! The Team- sters supported Harvey. The beer drivers’ local was striking the six major beer distributors who adamantly refused to sign the proposed union contract. “These guys are like me,” explained Baird, who had trucked newspapers before working his way Coors Boycott Fig-16: Coors Boycott poster and button, 1976
  • 31. The Campaign Team 35 intot he Teamsters hierarchy. “They can’t be out of work long.” So far Baird had enlisted a group representing over four hundred Arab grocers and the federation of Chinese grocers who would boycott scab drivers. If gay bars chipped in, they could win it. “I’ll do what I can,” said Harvey, pausing to add one condition. “You’ve got to promise me one thing. You’ve got to help bring gays into the Teamsters union. We buy a lot of beer that your union delivers. It’s only fair that we get a share of the jobs.” Baird liked Milk’s straightforwardness. After years in the give and take of union politics, the beefyTeamsterthoughthecouldspotabullshitter. Harvey Milk was no bullshitter. Baird grew more impressed when he later learned Milk was int he middle of is campaign for supervisor. any other politician would have asked for an endorsement, he thought. Milk just asked for jobs. The project gave Milk a chance to test out his new theories about achieving gay power through economic clout. He enlisted his friend, gay publisher Bob Ross, to help connect him to bar owners and started buttonholing support for the boycott. Baird was amazed at Milk’s ability to get press attention for the effort; Milk enjoyed the symbolism of tying gays to the conservative Teamsters union.
  • 32. 36 Milk vs. The Machine The boycott worked. Gays provided the coup de grace shot to the already strained distributors. Five of the six beer firms signed the pact. Only Coors reused to settle. Harvey used the refusal as a basis to launch a more highly publicized boycott of Coors beer in gay bars. Baird was surprised not only at Milk’s success, but by the fact that Harvey was as outraged at Coors discrimination against Chicanos as by the fabled Coors antipathy to gays. This guy’s got a national philosophy, Baird thought. AtaColoradomeetingwitharch-conservative William Coors, Baird warned the executive about the success of the gay boycott and about the persuasive gay leader who had just made an impressive showing in the local supervisorial race. These guys are getting more powerful, Baird warned, and they’ll be on the unions’ side. Coors acted astonished by the talk. He didn’t come out and say it, but Baird felt he could tell what Coors was thinking by the sneer on his face: Community. Baird kept his end of the bargain. Gays started driving for Falstalf, Lucky Lager, Budweiser, and soon all the distributors, except, of course, Coors. The biggest recruiting problem came not from biased employers, but from gays who found it hard to believe that there would be companies who were openly not discriminating against Fig-17: Deton Smith and Harvey Milk, 1976
  • 33. The Campaign Team 37 And so it begins… Fig-18: Harvey Milk in Gay Day Parade, 1974
  • 34. Part 2 harvey runs again
  • 35. “My name is Harvey Milk and I want to recruit you.”
  • 36. Milk was born in Woodmere, New York, on Long Island, to William Milk and Minerva Karns. He was the younger son of Lithuanian Jewish parents and the grandson of Morris Milk, a department store owner who helped to organize the first synagogue in the area. As a child, Harvey was teased for his protruding ears, big nose, and oversized feet, and tended to grab attention as a class clown. He played football in school, and developed a passion for opera; in his teens, he acknowledged his homosexuality, but kept it a guarded secret. Under his name in the high school yearbook, it read, “Glimpy Milk—and they say WOMEN are never at a loss for words”. Milk graduated from Bay Shore High School in Bay Shore, New York, in 1947 and attended New York State College for Teachers in Albany (now the State University of New York) from 1947 to 1951, majoring in mathematics. He wrote for the college newspaper and earned a reputation as a gregarious, friendly student. None of his friends in high school or college suspected that he was gay. As one classmate remembered, “He was never thought of as a possible queer—that’s what you called them then—he was a man’s man”. Returning to New York, Milk took a job teaching high school. By this time, Milk was living openly with his lover, Joe Campbell, though he still kept his homosexuality hidden from his family. After a couple of years, Milk left teaching. He tried his hand at a number of other occupations before landing a job with the Wall Street investment firm Bache and Company in 1963. At Bache, Milk discovered that he had a knack for finance and investment, and his rise through the corporate world was swift. The First Time Around 41 the first time around First Run, First Lost
  • 37. 42 Milk vs. The Machine Fig-19: Harvey Milk campaigning, 1973
  • 38. The First Time Around 43 Milk’s reception by the gay political establishment in San Francisco was icy. Jim Foster, who had by then been active in gay politics for ten years, resented the newcomer’s asking for his endorsement for a position as prestigious as city supervisor. Foster told Milk, “There’s an old saying in the Democratic Party. You don’t get to dance unless you put up the chairs. I’ve never seen you put up the chairs.” Milk was furious at the patronizing snub, and the conversation marked the beginning of an antagonistic relationship between the “Alice” Club and Harvey Milk. Some gay bar owners, still battling police harassment and unhappy with what they saw as a timid approach by Alice to established authority in the city, decided to endorse him. Thoughhehaddriftedthroughhislifethusfar,Milkfoundhisvocation, according to journalist Frances FitzGerald, who called him a “born politician”. At first, his inexperience showed. He tried to do without money, support, or staff, and instead relied on his message of sound financial management, promoting individuals over large corporations andgovernment.Hesupportedthereorganizationofsupervisorelections from a city-wide ballot to district ballots, which was intended to reduce the influence of money and give neighborhoods more control over their representatives in city government. He also ran on a socially liberal platform, opposing government interference in private sexual matters and favoring the legalization of marijuana. Milk’s fiery, flamboyant speeches and savvy media skills earned him a significant amount of press during the 1973 election. He earned 16,900 votes—sweeping the Castro District and other liberal neighborhoods and coming in 10th place out of 32 candidates.
  • 39. 44 Milk vs. The Machine
  • 40. The First Time Around 45 At a fundraiser a man approached me and gave me a warm smile. It was Harvey Milk, the long-haired hippie candidate for Supervisor. Only now he had short hair and he was clean shaven. He was also wearing a suit. I was surprised. “Hi Mike, like the new look?” I told him I was floored. “Well, you have to make compromises in order to win elections. I’m running for Supervisor next year and would love to get your support.” When Harvey Milk cut his mustache off he said, “I want no distractions. Fifty people may not like mustaches, and I’m not gonna lose by 50 votes.” He didn’t have a suit but he used to pick up leftover laundry from the dry cleaners up on the corner. You know, the clothing that had been there for months, he went and picked it up. They gave the suit to him. The Transformation “I want no distractions. Fifty people may not like mustaches, and I’m not gonna lose by 50 votes.”
  • 41. 46 Milk vs. The Machine AlthoughhewasanewcomertotheCastroDistrict,Milkhadshownleadershipinthesmallcommunity. He was starting to be taken seriously as a candidate and decided to run again for supervisor in 1975. He reconsidered his approach and cut his long hair, swore off marijuana, and vowed never to visit another gay bathhouse again. Milk’s campaigning earned the support of the teamsters, firefighters, and construction unions. Castro Camera became the center of activity in the neighborhood. Milk would often pull people off the street to work his campaigns for him—many discovered later that they just happened to be the type of men Milk found attractive. Milk favored support for small businesses and the growth of neighborhoods. Since 1968, Mayor Aliotohadbeenluringlargecorporationstothecitydespitewhatcriticslabeled“theManhattanization of San Francisco”. As blue-collar jobs were replaced by the service industry, Alioto’s weakened political base allowed for new leadership to be voted into office in the city. George Moscone was elected mayor. Moscone had been instrumental in repealing the sodomy law earlier that year in the California State Legislature. He acknowledged Milk’s influence in his election by visiting Milk’s electionnightheadquarters,thankingMilkpersonally,andofferinghimapositionasacitycommissioner. Milk came in seventh place in the election, only one position away from earning a supervisor seat. Liberal politicians held the offices of the mayor, district attorney, and sheriff.
  • 42. The First Time Around 47 Despite the new leadership in the city, there were still conservative strongholds. One of Moscone’s first acts as mayor was appointing a police chief to the embattled San Francisco Police Department (SFPD). He chose Charles Gain, against the wishes of the SFPD. Most of the force disliked Gain for criticizing the police in the press for racial insensitivity and alcohol abuse on the job, instead of working within the command structure to change attitudes. By request of the mayor, Gain made it clear that gay police officers would be welcomed in the department; this became national news. Police under Gain expressed their hatred of him, and of the mayor for betraying them. Keeping his promise to Milk, newly elected Mayor George Moscone appointed him to the Board of PermitAppeals in 1976, making him the first openly gay city commissioner in the United States. Milk, however, considered seeking a position in the California State Assembly. The district was weighted heavily in his favor, as much of it was based in neighborhoods surrounding Castro Street, where Milk’s sympa- thizers voted. In the previous race for supervisor, Milk received more votes than the currently seated assemblyman. However, Moscone had made a deal with the assembly speaker that another candidate should run—Art Agnos. Furthermore, by order of the mayor, neither appointed nor elected officials were allowed to run a campaign while performing their duties. Fig-20: Harvey Milk campaigning, 1973
  • 43. 48 Milk vs. The Machine Milk spent five weeks on the Board of Permit Appeals before Moscone was forced to fire him when he announced he would run for the California State Assembly. Rick Stokes replaced him. Milk’s firing, and the backroom deal made between Moscone, the assembly speaker, and Agnos, fueled his campaign as he took on the identity of a political underdog. He railed that high officers in the city and state governments were against him. He enthusiastically embraced a local independent weekly magazine’s headline: “Harvey Milk vs. The Machine”. Milk’s role as a representative of San Francisco’s gay community expanded during this period. On September 22, 1975, President Gerald Ford, while visiting San Francisco, walked from his hotel to his car. In the crowd, Sara Jane Moore raised a gun to shoot him. A former Marine who had been walking by grabbed her arm as the gun discharged toward the pavement. The bystander was Oliver “Bill” Sipple, who had left Milk’s ex-lover Joe Campbell years before, prompting Campbell’s suicide attempt. The national spotlight was on him immediately. On psychiatric disability leave from the military, Sipple refused to call himself a hero and did not want his sexuality disclosed. Milk, however, took advantage of the opportunity to illustrate his cause that public perception of gay people would be improved if they came out of the closet. He told a friend: “It’s too good an opportunity. For once we can show that gays do heroic things, not just all that ca-ca about molesting children and hanging out in bathrooms.” Milk contacted a newspaper. The Second Time Around the second time around Fig-21: Harvey Milk campaigning, 1973
  • 44. The Second Time Around 49
  • 45. 50 Milk vs. The Machine Fig-22: Harvey Milk protesting, 1977
  • 46. The Second Time Around 51 Harvey Milk, at last, was a serious candidate. He was taking on six incumbent supervisors who were all seeking reelection. His real opponents, however, were downtown business interests. “As a small business man, I intend to fight for the needs of small businesses rather than solely for the interests of downtown,” he said when he announced his campaign in March 1975. He accused the incumbents of having “distorted priorities” and promised that his “priorities would be reoriented to the people and not to the downtown interests.” Milk outlined a four-point program to revitalize city neighborhoods. He wanted the 300,000 commuters who daily came from suburbia to work in corporate high rises and used expensive city services – to start paying a “fair share” tax to finance the fire and safety services that so drained city coffers. He sharply criticized City Hall’s assessment policies, which drastically underassessed the hotels and skyscrapers of powerful campaign contributors, leaving small homeowners to pick up the tax bill. Harvey’s strongest tactical allies came from unions. Mayoral hopeful Supervisor John Barbagelata had thrust labor against the wall by putting a number of anti-union initiatives on the city ballot, rolling back municipal employee pensions and pay scales. The propositions horrified the once-powerful unions, but they were convenient vehicles for dozens of hellfire and brimstone speeches by incumbents who were fanning public outrage over a recent police strike. Harvey was one of the only two supervisorial candidates in the entire city to back labor 100 percent. Allan Baird introduced him to labor leaders, adveritisng the fact that Milk was committing virtual political suicide by backing the union cause. Milk had discarded the bohemian flavor of his first campaign for three-piee suits he bought secondhand from a Castro district dry cleaner. Milk’s no-nonsense straightforward-ness impressed the union men. As his early months in office wore on, Harvey gained greater confidence and poise. He reigned his once galloping pace of speech to a reasonable center. “He accused incumbents of having distorted priorities and promised that his priorities would be reoriented to the people and not to downtown interests.”
  • 47. 52 Milk vs. The Machine Harvey relished the symbolism of gaining the endorsements from the city’s three most macho unions – teamsters, firemen, and hard hats. When the city’s Union Labor Party held its endorsement night, Harvey walked away with the highest tally of any supervisorial candidate. Publicly, Milk waxed on about how he was bringing diverse peoples together; privately, he enjoyed seeing the shock on his gay volunteers’ faceswhengroupsofbeefyfiremenandteamsters trooped into the camera shop to fold fliers and stamp envelopes. Harvey’s labor supporters pleaded with the old-line labor leaders who ran the Labor Council togivehimthebackingofallthecouncilmembers. A mammoth hook and ladder truck appeared in front of Castro Camera after Milk lost the council endorsement. Harvey’s new friends were going to cheer him up. The 1975 municipal electionsprovedawatershedyearforSanFrancisco city politics. The social conflicts that had been Third Time’s the Charm the third time around
  • 48. The Third Time Around 53 building during the Alioto administration erupted into the mayoral race. San Francisco faced a profound turning point. Blacks yearned for change. Their Filmore neighborhood had once been one of the most thriving black cultural centers west of New Orleans. Leveled by urban renewal, its people sank into despair. By 1975, the most influential man in the area was a charismatic minister who preached is own mixture of populist Christian theology and Marxist politics out of a converted synagogue he called the PeoplesTemple.The blacks who flocked there had lost their neighborhood; they were not needed in the sparkling glass and steel skyscrapers in downtown; their hopes lay in the sermons of the Reverend Jim Jones. He, in turn, could order hundreds of volunteers to work tirelessly for the candidates of his choosing. The Latino Mission district’s businesses had never recovered from the digging up of the central shopping strip for the Bay Area Rapid Transit. Younger Chinese-Americans wanted better condition for the tens of thousands crowded into Chinatown, one of the nation’s most appalling ghettos. The city’s more conservative voters in the sprawling west side residential neighborhoods also wanted change they already had had to suffer though the tide of hippies in the late 1960s; now they were seeing the Castro neighborhood being swiftly taken over by gays. Property taxes spiraled, though the homeowners saw few additional services for the added money. The revenues, they complained, were going to support minorities in the east side of the city. The police strike had left them madder; the pushy city unions seemed to be getting out of hand. Supervisor Dianne Feinstein hoped the studied moderation she’d followed in her six years in city politics would give her the broadest base of any candidate. Most pundits gave her a strong
  • 49. 54 Milk vs. The Machine Harvey relished the symbolism of gaining the endorsements from the city’s three most macho unions – teamsters, firemen, and hard hats. When the city’s Union Labor Party held its endorsement night, Harvey walked away with the highest tally of any supervisorial candidate. Publicly, Milk waxed on about how he was bringing diverse peoples together; privately, he enjoyed seeing the shock on his gay volunteers’ faces when groups of beefy firemen and teamsters trooped into the camera shop to fold fliers and stamp envelopes. Harvey’s labor supporters pleaded with the old-line labor leaders who ran the Labor Council togivehimthebackingofallthecouncilmembers. A mammoth hook and ladder truck appeared in front of Castro Camera after Milk lost the council endorsement. Harvey’s new friends were going to cheer him up. The 1975 municipal electionsprovedawatershedyearforSanFrancisco city politics. The social conflicts that had been buildingduringtheAliotoadministrationerupted into the mayoral race. San Francisco faced a profound turning point. Blacks yearned for change. Their Filmore neighborhood had once been one of the most thriving black cultural centers west of New Orleans. Leveled by urban renewal, its people sank into despair. By 1975, the most influential man in the area was a charismatic minister who preached is own mixture of populist Christian theology and Marxist politics out of a converted synagogue he called the Peoples Temple. The blacks who flocked there had lost their neighborhood; they were not needed in the sparkling glass and steel skyscrapers in downtown; their hopes lay in the sermons of the Reverend Jim Jones. He, in turn, could order hundreds of volunteers to work tirelessly for the candidates of his choosing. The Latino Mission district’s businesses had neverrecoveredfromthediggingupofthecentral shopping strip for the Bay Area Rapid Transit. Younger Chinese-Americans wanted better condition for the tens of thousands crowded into Chinatown, one of the nation’s most appalling ghettos.The city’s more conservative voters in the sprawling west side residential neighborhoods alsowantedchangetheyalreadyhadhadtosuffer though the tide of hippies in the late 1960s; now they were seeing the Castro neighborhood being swiftly taken over by gays. Property taxes spiraled, though the homeowners saw few additional services for the added money. The revenues, they complained, were going to support minorities in the east side of the city.The police strike had left them madder; the pushy city unions seemed to be getting out of hand. Supervisor Dianne Feinstein hoped the stud- ied moderation she’d followed in her six years in city politics would give her the broadest base of any candidate. Most pundits gave her a strong chance of grabbing a first place showing
  • 50. The Third Time Around 55 in the election. Liberal neighborhood activists had long ago soured on Feinstein, accusing her of indecisiveness at best or at worst of being a puppet of the downtown business interests that so generously filled her campaign chests She retained some of her gay support from wealthy upper-crust gays and managed to simultaneously assuage fears of middle-class voters by nothing her strong support for tough law enforcement. Another major asset came from the Hearst Corporation, owner of the afternoon Examiner, which regarded Feinstein with a reverence reserved for virgin mothers. Any story that might have possible tangential relationship to city government usually carried a Feinstein quote. George Moscone emerged as a clear liberal choice. Moscocone was part of a new breed of ethnic politicians who had been emerging in San Francisco since the late 1960s, more concerned with abortion and marijuana reform than with getting a crdinal’s cap. They eschewed the Catholic conservatism of old-line ethnic politicos like Joe Alioto and were among the first figures to reach effectively to black, Chinese, Latino,andgayvoters.Onceconsideredsomething of a radical, Moscone had worked his way from the Board of Supervisors to the California senate where he became senate majority leader, post to run for San Francisco Mayor. Moscone entered the campaign as the strident proponent of neighborhood power, decrying the “Manhattanization”developershadwroughtwith their skyscrapers and corporate headquarters. He turned his back on well0heeled campaign contributors by refusing to accept any campaign gift over $100. Michael Wong looked around the camera shop, stunned. In all the papers, he had read so much about the scores of volunteers Harvey Milk had working in his low-budget campaign. Harvey’s campaign now had a near-legendary quality, derived from Milk’s list of unexpected endorsements. Commuters on various mornings would frequently encounter his block-long stretches of human billboards, lines of smiling faces holding up “Harvey Milk for Supervisor” signs. The human billboards were good theater, Harvey decided. Wong had gotten to know Milk fromworkingonSenatorFredHarris’presidential campaign. He surrenders his earlier misgivings and come down to Castro Camera headquarters to join the cadre of volunteers he’d heard so much about. The camera shop, however, was empty. Wong leaned over the counter to Scott Smith. “I knew then,” Wong wrote in his diary, “that Harvey was a great media manipulator.” Milk did indeed keep the media happy with his flamboyant campaigning, always ready to give reporters an outrageous joke or a quotable jab. Harvey seemed ubiquitous in the campaign, especially considering he had less money than any major supervisorial candidate in the race.
  • 51. 56 Milk vs. The Machine Fig-23: Harvey Milk at victory party, 1977
  • 52. The Third Time Around 57 Harvey relished the symbolism of gaining the endorsements from the city’s three most macho unions – teamsters, firemen, and hard hats. When the city’s Union Labor Party held its endorsement night, Harvey walked away with the highest tally of any supervisorial candidate. Publicly, Milk waxed on about how he was bringing diverse peoples together; privately, he enjoyed seeing the shock on his gay volunteers’ faceswhengroupsofbeefyfiremenandteamsters trooped into the camera shop to fold fliers and stamp envelopes. Harvey’s labor supporters pleaded with the old-line labor leaders who ran the Labor Council togivehimthebackingofallthecouncilmembers. A mammoth hook and ladder truck appeared in front of Castro Camera after Milk lost the council endorsement. Harvey’s new friends were going to cheer him up. The 1975 municipal elections proved a watershed year for San Francisco city politics.The social conflicts that had been build- ing during the Alioto administration erupted into the mayoral race. San Francisco faced a profound turning point. Blacks yearned for change. Their Filmore neighborhood had once been one of the most thriving black cultural centers west of New Orleans. Leveled by urban renewal, its people sank into despair. By 1975, the most influential man in the area was a charismatic minister who preached is own mixture of populist Christian theology and Marxist politics out of a converted synagogue he called the Peoples Temple. The blacks who flocked there had lost their neighborhood; they were not needed in the spar- kling glass and steel skyscrapers in downtown; their hopes lay in the sermons of the Reverend Jim Jones. He, in turn, could order hundreds of volunteers to work tirelessly for the candidates of his choosing. The Latino Mission district’s businesses had neverrecoveredfromthediggingupofthecentral shopping strip for the Bay Area Rapid Transit. Younger Chinese-Americans wanted better condition for the tens of thousands crowded into Chinatown, one of the nation’s most appalling ghettos.The city’s more conservative voters in the sprawling west side residential neighborhoods alsowantedchangetheyalreadyhadhadtosuffer though the tide of hippies in the late 1960s; now they were seeing the Castro neighborhood being swiftly taken over by gays. Property taxes spiraled, though the homeowners saw few additional services for the added money. The revenues, they complained, were going to support minorities in the east side of the city.The police strike had left them madder; the pushy city unions seemed to be getting out of hand.
  • 53. 58 Milk vs. The Machine Harvey relished the symbolism of gaining the endorsements from the city’s three most macho unions – teamsters, firemen, and hard hats. When the city’s Union Labor Party held its endorsement night, Harvey walked away with the highest tally of any supervisorial candidate. Publicly, Milk waxed on about how he was bringing diverse peoples together; privately, he enjoyed seeing the shock on his gay volunteers’ faceswhengroupsofbeefyfiremenandteamsters trooped into the camera shop to fold fliers and stamp envelopes. Harvey’s labor supporters pleaded with the old-line labor leaders who ran the Labor Council togivehimthebackingofallthecouncilmembers. A mammoth hook and ladder truck appeared in front of Castro Camera after Milk lost the council endorsement. Harvey’s new friends were going to cheer him up. The 1975 municipal elections proved a watershed year for San Franciscocitypolitics.Thesocialconflictsthathad been building during the Alioto administration erupted into the mayoral race. San Francisco faced a profound turning point. Blacks yearned for change. Their Filmore neighborhood had once been one of the most thriving black cultural centers west of New Orleans. Leveled by urban renewal, its people sank into despair. By 1975, the most influential man in the area was a charismatic minister who preached is own mixture of populist Christian theology and Marxist politics out of a convert- ed synagogue he called the Peoples Temple. The blacks who flocked there had lost their neighborhood; they were not needed in the glass and steel skyscrapers in downtown; their hopes lay in the sermons of the Reverend Jim Jones. He, in turn, could order hundreds of volunteers to work tirelessly for the candidates of his choosing. The Latino Mission district’s businesses had never recovered from the digging up of the central shopping strip for the Bay Area Rapid Transit. Younger Chinese-Americans wanted better condition for the tens of thousands crowded into Chinatown, one of the nation’s most appalling ghettos.The city’s more conservative voters in the sprawling west side residential neighborhoods alsowantedchangetheyalreadyhadhadtosuffer though the tide of hippies in the late 1960s; now they were seeing the Castro neighborhood being swiftly taken over by gays. Property taxes spiraled, though the homeowners saw few additional services for the added money. The revenues, they complained, were going to support minorities in the east side of the city.The police strike had left them madder; the pushy city unions seemed to be getting out of hand. SupervisorDianneFeinsteinhopedthestudied moderation she’d followed in her six years in city politics would give her the broadest base of any candidate. Most pundits gave her a strong chance of grabbing a first place showing in the
  • 54. The Third Time Around 59 election. Liberal neighborhood activists had long ago soured on Feinstein, accusing her of indecisivenessatbestoratworstofbeingapuppet of the downtown business interests that so generously filled her campaign chests She retained some of her gay support from wealthy upper-crust gays and managed to simultaneously assuage fears of middle-class voters by nothing her strong support for tough law enforcement. Another major asset came from the Hearst Corporation, owner of the afternoon Examiner, which regarded Feinstein with a reverence generallyreservedforvirginmothers.Anystorythat might have any possible tangential relationship to city government carried a Feinstein quote. George Moscone emerged as a clear liberal choice. Moscocone was part of a new breed of ethnic politicians who had been emerging in San Francisco since the late 1960s, more concerned withabortionandmarijuanareformthanwithget- ting a cardinal’s cap.They eschewed the Catholic conservatism of old-line ethnic politicos like Joe Alioto and were among the first figures to reach effectively to black, Chinese, Latino, and gay voters. Once considered something of a radical, Moscone had worked his way from the Board of Supervisors to the California senate where he became senate majority leader, post to run for San Francisco Mayor. Moscone entered the cam- paign as the strident proponent of neighborhood power, decrying the “Manhattanization” developers had wrought with their skyscrapers and corporate headquarters. He turned his back on well0heeled campaign contributors by refusing to accept any campaign gift over $100. Michael Wong looked around the camera shop, stunned. In all the papers, he had read so much about the scores of volunteers Harvey Milk had working in his low-budget campaign. Harvey’s campaign now had a near-legendary quality, derived from Milk’s list of unexpected endorsements. Commuters on various mornings would frequently encounter his block-long stretches of human billboards, lines of smiling faces holding up “Harvey Milk for Supervisor” signs. The human billboards were good theater, Harvey decided. Wong had gotten to know Milk fromworkingonSenatorFredHarris’presidential campaign. He surrenders his earlier misgivings and come down to Castro Camera headquarters to join the cadre of volunteers he’d heard so much about. The camera shop, however, was empty. Wong leaned over the counter to Scott Smith. “I knew then,” Wong wrote in his diary, “that Harvey was a great media manipulator.” Milk did indeed keep the media happy with his flamboyant campaigning, always ready to give reporters an outrageous joke or a quotable jab. Harvey seemed ubiquitous in the campaign. especially considering he had less money than any major supervisorial candidate in the race. Necks like teamsters and hard hats was in itself proof of Milk’s naivete, if not outright insanity.
  • 55. 60 Milk vs. The Machine George Moscone emerged as a clear liberal choice. Moscocone was part of a new breed of ethnic politicians who had been emerging in San Francisco since the late 1960s, more concerned with abortion and marijuana reform than with getting a crdinal’s cap.They eschewed the Catholic conservatism of old-line ethnic politicos like Joe Alioto and were among the first figures to reach effectively to black, Chinese, Latino, and gay voters. Once considered some- thing of a radical, Moscone had worked his way from the Board of Supervisors to the California senate where he became senate majority leader, post to run for San Francisco Mayor. Moscone entered the campaign as the strident proponent of neighborhood power, decrying the “Manhattanization”developershadwroughtwith their skyscrapers and corporate headquarters. He turned his back on well0heeled campaign contributors by refusing to accept any campaign gift over $100. Michael Wong looked around the camera shop, stunned. In all the papers, he had read so much about the scores of volunteers Harvey Milk had working in his low-budget campaign. Harvey’s campaign now had a near-legendary quality, derived from Milk’s list of unexpected endorsements. Commuters on various mornings would frequently encounter his block- long stretches of human billboards, lines of smiling faces holding up “Harvey Milk for Supervisor” signs. The human billboards were good theater, Harvey decided. Wong had gotten to know Milk from working on Senator Fred Harris’ presidential campaign. He surren- ders his earlier misgivings and come down to Castro Camera headquarters to join the cadre of volunteers he’d heard so much about. The camera shop, however, was empty. Wong leaned over the counter to Scott Smith. “I knew then,” Wong wrote in his diary, “that Harvey was a great media manipulator.” Milk did indeed keep the media happy with his flamboyant campaigning, always ready to give reporters an outrageous joke or a quotable jab. Harvey seemed ubiquitous in the campaign, especially considering he had less money than any major supervisorial candidate in the race. The campaign’s strength lay not in the mythical legion of volunteers, but with a small cadre of supporters who worked protracted hours. A group of politicos from more disparate origins would be hard to find, even in San Francisco. Harvey quickly named Won “my little yellow lotus blossom” Wong, not familiar with the homosexual penchant for campy nicknames, took to telling Milk that he was a credit to your productivity. Wong recruited other volunteers from the Fred Harris campaign. Deputy Attorney GeneralArloSmith,thehighestcivilserviceofficer in the San Francisco branch of the attorney general’s office, often spent evenings stuffing envelopes he sometimes ran into another Milk
  • 56. The Third Time Around 61 volunteer who had an intimate knowledge of the criminal justice system. Harvey recruited more volunteers from the many disaffected who were moving to Castro Street. A pensive Harvard graduate, Jim Rivaldo, wandered into Castro Camera one day and mentioned his handing out fliers. A mild-mannered thirty- nine-year old Frank Robinson. Scott Smith had his hands full as Harvey’s campaign manager. Somebody had to take care of the store, so Harvey and Scott almost casually turned over the shop to a youthful art student who had drifted to San Francisco from upstate New York. Danny Nicoletta had the right combination of hippie idealism and naiveté to guarantee trust – and the slight build Harvey found so attractive in young men. That Harvey often turned over major responsibilities so casually worried some friends. His campaigns could train a new corps of activists. A committed novice from the streets was worth a dozen old-timers, he said. Fig-24: Harvey Milk in front of Castro Camera, 1977
  • 57. 62 Milk vs. The Machine Fig-25: Harvey Milk and Jimmy Carter, 1976
  • 58. The Third Time Around 63 Harvey’s 10 Rules on Winning an Election 1. Interviews with all major papers 4. Visit non-gay bars during the daytime and any singles bar at night 2. Knock on all doors 3. Ride buses 8. As few meetings as pos- sible. Just meet the people 5. Coffee shops and restaurants. Stop off early in morning and late at night 10. Don’t stop. 6. Shake hands 7. Shake hands 9. Door to door of registered Demo’s is very best thing you can do outside of media cover- age
  • 59. Part 3 supervisor milk
  • 60. 66 Milk vs. The Machine “All over the country, they are reading about me, and the story doesn’t center on me being gay. It’s just about a gay person who is doing his job.”
  • 61. No on Prop 6 67 no on prop 6 “What do you think of my new theater?” Supervisor Harvey Milk enjoyed posing that question to his friends as he would guide them up the grand marble staircase of San Francisco City Hall, and he pointed out the dramatic proportions the building seemed to lend to whatever history passé beneath its dome. “My stage,” he would say, looking down at the expansive lobby from the balcony. From his first day in office, Harvey left little doubt that his term would be marked more by his unique brand of political theater than by the substantive tasks of the board. He managed to turn his ceremonial swearing-in into a major media event when he and Jack Lira led a procession of 150 supporters from Castro Camera down the fifteen blocks to the wide front steps of City Hall. “This is a walk of reconciliation with a nation of people,” he hectored reporters. “This is a walk that will give to many people hope.” Mayor Moscone and a gaggle of other politicians greeted the cadre of outsiders who were about to take their seat of power at last. Milk insisted on an outdoor inauguration, saying all his supporters could not fit indoors. Besides, the pictures of Milk in front of the proud rotunda made much better television. As Harvey began to repeat the words of his oath, a gentle rain began falling. “Anita Bryant said gay people brought the drought to California,” he joked, looking up at the sky. “Looks to me like it’s finally started raining.” Milkusedhisfirstboardmeetingthatafternoon to strike an independent path. His first legislative proposal called for the enactment of a comprehensivebanonallformsofdiscrimination against gays in the city. During the board’s first order of business—the election of its president – Milk tenaciously held out against the cer- Briggs Initiative
  • 62. 68 Milk vs. The Machine tain election of Supervisor Dianne Feinstein, maintaing the board should have its first minority president, the new Chinese-American supervisor Gordon Lau. After Feinstein won her 6-5 vote the first of many 605 wins in the coming year. Milk refused to go along with Lau’s courtesy motion to make Feinstein’s election unanimous. The lack of tact horrified the newspapers. The Examiner ran an editorial saying Milk was off to a disappointing start. But the anti-Feinstein swipe delighted both liberals, who viewed Feinstein as an ally of downtown business in- terests, and gays, who had grown uneasy with Feinstein’s prudery. He privately noted that the Examiner editorial had served its most important purpose, spelling his name right. An no mat- ter what the editorial page said, the afternoon paper’s front page was dominated by one picture Harvey with his arm around Jack, leading the march up Castro Street. “You can act right now to help protect your family from vicious killers and defend your children from homosexual teachers.” With a picture of a bludgeoned teenage youth lying in a pool of his own blood, the brochure read like a grisly clearance sale, advertised with a political motif. Though it was Proposition 6 that gained the nickname the Briggs Initiative, the ambitious Fullerton senator had sponsored two ballot initiatives for the election – Prop 6 and proposition 7, enacting a tougher death penalty statute. Briggs earnestly insisted that the two issues were inexorably tied together. The fundraising letter for both Propositions 6 and 7 drew the parallels =, over the picture of a vic- tim of the odious trash bag murderer. “The ruth- “If you let one homosexual teacher stay, soon there’ll be two, then four, then eight, then twenty five – and before long, the entire school will be taught by homosexuals”
  • 63. No on Prop 6 69 less killer who shot this poor young man in the face can be SET FREE TO KILL AGAIN because California does not have an effective death penalty law.” A feel paragraphs later, Briggs explained that homosexual teachers represented an equally horrendous threat, what with the proliferation of gay teacher-recruiters in the classrooms. The brochure lacked subtlety, but the skillful use of direct mail techniques initially brought hundreds of thousands of dollars into the coffers of Brigg’s campaign. Moreover, the gruesome brochure for the two initiatives was not particulary wild rhetoric compared to other fliers Briggs circulated for Prop 6. The major leaflet of his campaign fea- tured fifteen different newspaper clippings with headlines like: “Teacher Accused of Sex Acts with Boy Students,” “Senate Shown Movie of Child Porn,” “Police Find Sexually Abused Children,” “ Former Scoutmaster Convicted of Homosexual Acts with Boys,” “Why a 13-year- old Is Selling His Body,” “Ex-Teachers Indicted for Lewd Acts with Boys,” “R.I. Sex Club Lured Juveniles with Gifts.” One full-color newspaper advertising supplement featured pictures from the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on its cover with the words ‘Moral Decay” emblazonedacrossthem.“PoliticiansDoNothing – Decent Citizens Must Act. You Can Help! Start by Signing Up to Save Our Children from Homosexual Teachers.” Pictures of Brigg and Anita Bryant adorned inside pages.” In September, Briggs further startled gay activists when he said he was about to publish a book entitled Everything You’ve Always Wanted toKnowAboutHomosexualityButWereAfraidto Ask. The planned 150-page opus would include picturesofvictimsofthetrashbagmurdersandthe Houston sex-torture ring, he said. San Francisco would dominate the booklet with lengthy discussions of the seedier sides of gay life,
  • 64. 70 Milk vs. The Machine Fig-26: San Francisco City Hall Protest, 1978
  • 65. No on Prop 6 71 including fist-loving sadomasochists cults and sexual activity in parks, benches, bathhouses, back rooms, and private male clubs. Briggs’ speeches were similarly peppered. “If you let one homosexual teacher stay, soon there’ll be two, then four, then eight, then twenty five – and before long, the entire school will be taught by homosexuals,” the senator said in a speech in Healdsburg, a tiny Sonoma County hamlet that gained national attention during the Prop 6 Campaign when a local second grade teacher publicly acknowledged his homosexuality. In the course of that forty-five minute speech Briggs managed to equate homosexuals with adulterers, burglars, communists, murders, rapists, Richard Nixon, child pornographers, and effeminate courtiers who undermine the Greek and Roman civilizations. The rhetoric was less startling than the fact that Briggs’s law just might have passed if it were not for the brief definition of one three-word phrase in its language: Public Homosexual Conduct. The phrase may sound like a description of a round of fellatio on Main Street, but the initiative sweepingly defined “public homosexual conduct” as “advocating, imposing, encouraging or promoting of private or public homosexual activity directed at, or likely to come to the attention of, school children and/or other [school] employees.” Walking in a gay pride parade “encourages” homosexual activity,soanyteacher,gayorstraight,couldhavebeenfiredforwalkinginagaymarch.Havingadrink in a gay bar, assigning books written by a gay author, attending a meeting where gay rights was dis- cussed, all constituted activity that might advocate or promote homosexuality, and all were therefore punishable by termination, be the teacher gay or straight. The reason that Briggs picked Healdsburg as a showcase city was because the second grade teacher had said he was gay in statement opposing the Briggs initiative. Opposing the Briggs Initiative might be grounds for termination.
  • 66. 72 Milk vs. The Machine Milk used his first board meeting that afternoon to strike an independent path. His first legislative proposal called for the enactment of a comprehensive ban on all forms of discrimination against gays in the city. During the board’s first order of business—the election of its president – Milk tenaciously held out against the certain election of Supervisor Dianne Feinstein, maintaing the board should have its first minority president, the new Chinese-American supervisor Gordon Lau. After Feinstein won her 6-5 vote – the first of many 605 wins in the coming year—Milk refused to go along with Lau’s courtesy motion to make Feinstein’s election unanimous. The lack of tact horrified the newspapers. The Examiner ran an editorial saying Milk was off to a disappointing start. But the anti-Feinstein swipe delighted both liberals, who viewed Feinstein as an ally of downtown business interests, and gays, who had grown uneasy with Feinstein’s prudery. He privately noted that the Examiner editorial had served its most important purpose, spelling his name right. An no matter what the editorial page said, the afternoon paper’s front page was dominated by one picture – Harvey with his arm around Jack, leading the march up Castro Street. The formal inauguration in the elaborately carved oak-paneled board chambers was marred only when Harvey turned to introduce Jack Lira. Dan White had used his introduction time to pay tribute to his grandmother, an Irish immigrant; Harvey relisted the juxtaposition of introducing his male lover, but Lira had slipped out of the room even before the meeting started, afraid of the cameras and bright lights being trained on him. “It’s well known that I’m a gay person. I have a part of the machine Harvey Milk: Supervisor
  • 67. Part of the Machine 73 Fig-27: Harvey Milk, 1974
  • 68. 74 Milk vs. The Machine loved one but he was too nervous to stay here and he left,” said Harvey. Milk had waited so many years for the day of his inauguration when he could stand as a homosexual to introduce the man he loved and the moment had fled him. Harvey instead used most of his introductory remarks to speak on his favorite theme. “A true function of politics is not just to pass laws, but to give hope,” he said. “There have been too many disappointments lately. The real abyss that lies not too far ahead is that day when he disappointed people lost their hope forever. When that happens, everything we cherish will be lost.” Even the crustiest reporters, however, did not fail to note the symbolism Milk underscored in this, the first district-elected board in the city’s modern history. Taking oaths were the city’s first elected Chinese supervisor, the first black woman, the only Latino supervisor, the first gay city official in the nation, and, from another alternative life-styles category, even the first unwed mother supervisor, Harvey’s friend and ally, Carol Ruth Silver. The inauguration also signaled what looked like the beginning of a new stability in city government after the turbulence caused first by Moscone’s election, then the passage of district elections, later the whirlwind efforts to not only repeal district elections but recall the city’s top officials, and finally the ouster of the citywide board in November. Feinstein called it “a new day in San Francisco politics”; the transition in power from downtown to the neighborhoods looked like juggernaut now, a palace coup that could not be undone. The best media event inauguration day came not from Milk, but from his old nemesis David Goodstein, who sponsored a series of inaugural night parties at the city’s three most popular gay discos. Publicly, Goodstin culled jargon from his est courses to insist he wanted to provide a supportive context for Milk and publicly, Harvey said, “If Begin and Saat can get together to talk, so can we.” Privately, Goodstein quoted Machiavelli’s Pricne, not Werner Erhard, as the reason for the parties. The round of inaugural partying did not end until the next night when Milk threw a formal dinner to help pay off his campaign debt. The new supervisor used the occasion to wax eloquent again about his dreams for new cities and for hope: The American Dream starts with neighbor- hoods. If we wish to rebuild our cities, we must first rebuild our neighborhoods. To sit on the front steps – whether it’s a veranda in a small town or a concrete stoop in a big city – is infinitely more important than to huddle on the living room longer and watch a make-believe world in not quite living color. The new supervisor from District 5 was out to be more than the gay legislator and he used his first months on the board to build his populist image, inveighing against the interests he considered the bane of a healthy San Francisco downtown corporations and real estate developers. He pushed for a commuter tax,
  • 69. Part of the Machine 75 so the 300,00-plus corporate employees who came downtown each day from suburbia would ay their share for the city services they used. The news that a parking garage for a new performing arts center near City Hall would replace housing units sent Harvey on a rampage. “It’s a scandal of human nature to rip down sixty-seven housing units in this day so that the wealthy can have a place to park their cars,” he lectured. ‘A place for an auto to ret is not as important as the need for a place for people to rest. There is a shifting of tides taking place toward the needs of people versus the needs of the auto.” Real estate developers tried to persuade Milk to support a massive downtown development project with the argument that once built, it would provide thousands of jobs for minorities.“Jobs as what?” Harvey sneered. “Janitors, waitresses, and busboys. Big fucking deal. What kinds of opportunities are those?” The centerpiece of Milk’s legislative agenda remained his ordinance to discourage the real Fig-28: Harvey Milk’s Inauguration, 1978
  • 70. 76 Milk vs. The Machine Fig-29: Harvey Milk’s Inauguration walk, 1978
  • 71. Part of the Machine 77 estate speculation that was running rampant throughout San Francisco, especially in the Castro. Harvey worried that the spiraling housing prices would force the poor and minorities out of the city. Milk went right to the belly of the beast and delivered the announcement of his anti-speculation tax to the San Francisco Board of Realtors. The group wasted no time in singling Milk out as the most formidable political foe. Still, conceded one Milk critic, “With Harvey, you never had to worry about a knife in the back. He gave you a front assault.” As his early months in office wore on, Harvey gained greater confidence and poise. He reigned his once galloping pace of speech to a reasonable center. The formerly frenzied waving of arms gave way to a calmer, more confident gesture of one arm, index finger extended, which photographed better. He did his board homework meticulously. When a friend went to rouse him for a 2 A.M. emergency one morning, he found Harvey wide awake in his pajamas, reading the complicated city charter. Veteran Supervisor John Molinari though Milk was acting driven at times in his effort to keep up on all the issues before the board, as if he had to prove that he was more than just a gay supervisor. Harvey’s good humor started outshining his natural abrasiveness, so that even while hew as often in the minority of board votes, a few colleagues disliked the politician with a penchant for puns and one-liners. Michael Wong found a thoroughly ecstatic Milk when he visited City Hall in March. Harvey recounted his excitement at a recent fundraising dinner. “The formerly frenzied waving of arms gave way to a calmer, more confident gesture of one arm, index finger extended, which photographed better.”
  • 72. 78 Milk vs. The Machine Harvey’s labor supporters pleaded with the old-line labor leaders who ran the Labor Council to give him the backing of all the council mem- bers. A mammoth hook and ladder truck ap- peared in front of Castro Camera after Milk lost the council endorsement. Harvey’s new friends were going to cheer him up. The 1975 municipal elections proved a watershed year for San Francisco city politics. The social conflicts that had been building during the Alioto administration erupted into the mayoral race. San Francisco faced a profound turning point. Blacks yearned for change. Their Filmore neighborhood had once been one of the most thriving black cultural centers west of New Orleans. Leveled by urban renewal, its people sank into despair. By 1975, the most influential man in the area was a charismatic minister who preached is own mixture of populist Christian theology and Marxist politics out of a converted synagogue he called the Peoples Temple. The blacks Fig-30: Harvey Milk’s at San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade, 1974
  • 73. Part of the Machine 79 who flocked there had lost their neighborhood; they were not needed in the sparkling glass and steel skyscrapers in downtown; their hopes lay in the sermons of the Reverend Jim Jones. He, in turn, could order hundreds of volunteers to work tirelessly for the candidates of his choosing. TheLatinoMissiondistrict’sbusinesseshadneverrecovered from the digging up of the central shopping strip for the Bay Area Rapid Transit. Younger Chinese-Americans wanted better condition for the tens of thousands crowded into Chinatown, one of the nation’s most appalling ghettos.The city’s more conservative voters in the sprawling west side residential neighborhoods also wanted change they already had had to suffer though the tide of hippies in the late 1960s; now they were seeing the Castro neighborhood being swiftly taken over by gays. Property taxes spiraled, though the homeowners saw few additional services for the added money. The revenues, they complained, were going to support minorities in the east side of the city. The police strike had left them madder; the pushy city unions seemed to be getting out of hand. Supervisor Dianne Feinstein hoped the studied moderation she’d followed in her six years in city politics would give her the broadest base of any candidate. Most pundits gave her a strong chance of grabbing a first place showing in the election. Fig-31: Harvey Milk’s at Inauguration dinner, 1978
  • 74. 80 Milk vs. The Machine Harvey relished the symbolism of gaining the endorsements from the city’s three most macho unions – teamsters, firemen, and hard hats. When the city’s Union Labor Party held its en- dorsement night, Harvey walked away with the highest tally of any supervisorial candidate. Publicly, Milk waxed on about how he was bringing diverse peoples together; privately, he enjoyed seeing the shock on his gay volunteers’ faces when groups of beefy firemen and teamsters trooped into the camera shop to fold fliers and stamp envelopes. Harvey’s labor supporters pleaded with the old-line labor leaders who ran the Labor Council to give him the backing of all the council members. A mammoth hook and ladder truck appeared in front of Castro Camera after Milk lost the council endorsement. Harvey’s new friends were going to cheer him up.The 1975 municipal elections proved a watershed year for San Francisco city politics. The social conflicts that had been building during the Alioto administration erupted into the mayoral race. San Francisco faced a profound turning point. Fig-32: Harvey Milk’s at Castro Camera, 1977
  • 75. Part of the Machine 81 Blacks yearned for change. Their Filmore neighborhood had once been one of the most thriving black cultural centers west of New Orleans. Leveled by urban renewal, its people sank into despair. By 1975, the most influential man in the area was a charismatic minister who preached is own mixture of populist Christian theology and Marxist politics out of a converted synagogue he called the Peoples Temple. The blacks who flocked there had lost their neighborhood; they were not needed in the sparkling glass and steel skyscrapers in downtown; their hopes lay in the sermons of the Reverend Jim Jones. He, in turn, could order hundreds of volunteers to work tirelessly for the candidates of his choosing. The Latino Mission district’s businesses had never recovered from the digging up of the central shopping strip for the Bay Area Rapid Transit. Younger Chinese-Americans wanted better condition for the tens of thousands crowded into Chinatown, one of the nation’s most appalling ghettos. The city’s more conservative voters in the sprawling west side residential Fig-33: Harvey Milk’s at Castro Camera, 1977
  • 76. 82 Milk vs. The Machine Fig-34: Harvey Milk campaigning, 1977
  • 77. Part of the Machine 83 neighborhoods also wanted change they already had had to suffer though the tide of hippies in the late 1960s; now they were seeing the Castro neighborhood being swiftly taken over by gays. Property taxes spiraled, though the homeowners saw few additional services for the added money. The revenues, they complained, were going to support minorities in the east side of the city. The police strike had left them madder; the pushy city unions seemed to be getting out of hand. Milk’s swearing-in made national headlines, as he became the first openly gay non-incumbent man in the United States to win an election for public office. He likened himself to pioneering African American baseball player Jackie Robinson and walked to City Hall arm in arm with Jack Lira, stating “You can stand around and throw bricks at Silly Hall or you can take it over. Well, here we are.” The Castro District was not the only neighborhood to promote someone new to city politics. Sworn in with Milk were also a single mother (Carol Ruth Silver), a Chinese American (Gordon Lau), and an African American woman (Ella Hill Hutch)—all firsts for the city. Daniel White, a former police officer and firefighter, was also a first-time supervisor, and he spoke of how proud he was that his grandmother was able to see him sworn in. Milk’s energy, affinity for pranking, and unpredictability at times exasperated Board of Supervisors President Dianne Feinstein. In his first meeting with Mayor Moscone, Milk called himself the “number one queen” and dictated to Moscone that he would have to go through Milk instead of the Alice B. Toklas Memorial Democratic Club if he wanted the city’s gay votes—a quarter of San Francisco’s voting population. However, Milk also became Moscone’s closest ally on the Board of Supervisors. The biggest targets of Milk’s ire were large corporations and real estate developers. He fumed when a parking garage was slated to take the place of homes near the downtown area, and tried to pass a commuter tax so office workers who lived outside the city and drove into work would have to pay for city services they used. Milk was often willing to vote against Feinstein and other more tenured members of the board. In one controversy early in his term, Milk agreed with fellow Supervisor Dan White, whose district was located two miles south of the Castro, that a mental health facility for troubled adolescents should not be placed there. After Milk learned more about the facility, he decided to switch his vote, ensuring White’s loss on the issue—a particularly poignant cause that White championed while campaigning. White did not forget it. He opposed every initiative and issue Milk supported.
  • 78. 84 Milk vs. The Machine During the sixties and seventies, a steadily increasing number of San Francisco’s industries fled the city, opting to build new plants in the suburbs, rather than overhaul their aging and antiquated inner- city facilities. This urban flight eroded the city’s poorer neighborhoods, whose blue collar residents- -mostly blacks and hispanics who had relied on the plants for their livelihood--could not afford to follow their jobs to the suburbs. Instead of offering business incentives to remain in San Francisco, the city’s civil administration--whose campaign had been heavily backed by developers, construc- tion unions, and real estate concerns--launched an aggressive “urban renewal” campaign, which led to the razing of large segments of San Francisco’s poorer ethnic neighborhoods to make room for office complexes and a mass transit system designed to lure tourists and corporate headquarters to the city. The fruits of the machine’s short-sighted “urban renewal” policy, was a shimmering skyline which was invaded daily by hordes of suburban-dwelling white-collar workers. At night, the skyline lay cold and vacant in the moonlight--its serene sterility obliterating the memory of the once vibrant neighborhood upon which it stood. The sterility of the skyline, however, was deceptive. “The scar that’s left isn’t just the empty office building or the now-vacant lot,” Milk warned, “it’s the worker who can no longer provide for his family, the teenager who suddenly awakens from the American Dream to find that all the jobs have gone south for the duration.” The city had been mutilated by the machine; its wounds left to fester, as the inner city neighborhoods crumbled, and the crime rate soared. “You see the empty buildings [where businesses used to be], but you don’t see the hopelessness, the loss of pride, the anger,” warned Milk. Milk passionately believed that the “true function of politics is not just to pass laws, but to give hope.”Iftheproblemsofthecitiesarenotaddressed,hewarned,America’scitieswillplungeheadlong into “the real abyss that lies not too far ahead, when a disappointed people lose their hope forever. When that happens, everything we cherish will be lost.” The machine had betrayed the inner-city, selling it out to “carpet-baggers who have fled to the suburbs,” leaving behind omnipresent “fire
  • 79. SUPERVISOR MILK 85 Fig-35: Harvey Milk, Mayor Moscone, and Supervisor Carol Ruth, 1978
  • 80. 86 Milk vs. The Machine Needs of Individuals the three goals During the sixties and seventies, a steadily increasing number of San Francisco’s industries fled the city, opting to build new plants in the suburbs, rather than overhaul their aging and antiquated inner- city facilities. This urban flight eroded the city’s poorer neighborhoods, whose blue collar residents- -mostly blacks and hispanics who had relied on the plants for their livelihood--could not afford to follow their jobs to the suburbs. Instead of offering business incentives to remain in San Francisco, the city’s civil administration--whose campaign had been heavily backed by developers, construc- tion unions, and real estate concerns--launched an aggressive “urban renewal” campaign, which led to the razing of large segments of San Francisco’s poorer ethnic neighborhoods to make room for office complexes and a mass transit system designed to lure tourists and corporate headquarters to the city. The fruits of the machine’s short-sighted “urban renewal” policy, was a shimmering skyline which was invaded daily by hordes of suburban-dwelling white-collar workers. At night, the skyline lay cold and vacant in the moonlight--its serene sterility obliterating the memory of the once vibrant neighborhood upon which it stood. The sterility of the skyline, however, was deceptive. “The scar that’s left isn’t just the empty office building or the now-vacant lot,” Milk warned, “it’s the worker who can no longer provide for his family, the teenager who suddenly awakens from the American Dream to find that all the jobs have gone south for the duration.” The city had been mutilated by the machine; its wounds left to fester, as the inner city neighborhoods crumbled, and the crime rate soared. “You see the empty buildings [where businesses used to be], but you don’t see the hopelessness, the loss of pride, the anger,” warned Milk.
  • 81. SUPERVISOR MILK 87 Goal One: Government to respond to the needs of individuals
  • 82. 88 Milk vs. The Machine During the sixties and seventies, a steadily increasing number of San Francisco’s industries fled the city, opting to build new plants in the suburbs, rather than overhaul their aging and antiquated inner-city facilities. This urban flight eroded the city’s poorer neighborhoods, whose blue collar residents--mostly blacks and hispanics who had relied on the plants for their livelihood--could not afford to follow their jobs to the suburbs. Instead of offering business incentives to remain in San Francisco, the city’s civil administration--whose campaign had been heavily backed by developers, construction unions, and real estate concerns--launched an aggressive “urban renewal” campaign, which led to the razing of large segments of San Francisco’s poorer ethnic neighborhoods to make room for office complexes and a mass transit system designed to lure tourists and corporate headquarters to the city. The fruits of the machine’s short-sighted “urban renewal” policy, was a shimmering skyline which was invaded daily by hordes of suburban-dwelling white-collar workers. At night, the skyline lay cold and vacant in the moonlight--its serene sterility obliterating the memory of the once vibrant neighborhood upon which it stood. The sterility of the skyline, however, was deceptive. “The scar that’s left isn’t just the empty office building or the now-vacant lot,” Milk warned, “it’s the worker who can no longer provide for his family, the teenager who suddenly awakens from the American Dream to find that all the jobs have gone south for the duration.” The city had been mutilated by the machine; its wounds left to fester, as the inner city neighborhoods crumbled, and the crime rate soared. Gay Rights
  • 83. The Three Goals 89 Goal Two: Address and stress the importance of gay rights
  • 84. 90 Milk vs. The Machine During the sixties and seventies, a steadily increasing number of San Francisco’s industries fled the city, opting to build new plants in the suburbs, rather than overhaul their aging and antiquated inner- city facilities. This urban flight eroded the city’s poorer neighborhoods, whose blue collar residents- -mostly blacks and hispanics who had relied on the plants for their livelihood--could not afford to follow their jobs to the suburbs. Instead of offering business incentives to remain in San Francisco, the city’s civil administration--whose campaign had been heavily backed by developers, construction unions, and real estate concerns--launched an aggressive “urban renewal” campaign, which led to the razing of large segments of San Francisco’s poorer ethnic neighborhoods to make room for office complexes and a mass transit system designed to lure tourists and corporate headquarters to the city. The fruits of the machine’s short-sighted “urban renewal” policy, was a shimmering skyline which was invaded daily by hordes of suburban-dwelling white-collar workers. At night, the skyline lay cold and vacant in the moonlight--its serene sterility obliterating the memory of the once vibrant neighborhood upon which it stood. The sterility of the skyline, however, was deceptive. “The scar that’s left isn’t just the empty office building or the now-vacant lot,” Milk warned, “it’s the worker who can no longer provide for his family, the teenager who suddenly awakens from the American Dream to find that all the jobs have gone south for the duration.” The city had been mutilated by the machine; its wounds left to fester, as the inner city neighborhoods crumbled, and the crime rate soared. “You see the empty buildings [where businesses used to be], but you don’t. San Francisco Neighborhoods “As a supervisor, Harvey Milk got to work on the issues that people of San Francisco cared about: schools, parks, police protection and housing.”
  • 85. The Three Goals 91 Goal Three: Preserve the unique characteristics of each neighborhood in the city
  • 86. 92 Milk vs. The Machine
  • 87. Dan White 93 dan white Dan White had stayed up all night, eating cupcakes, drinking Cokes , and finally watching the sun work its way over the horizon. White was still moping around the house when Mary Ann woke to go to work at the fried potato stand. She dressed the baby and left for the babysitter’s at 7:30 AM. Dan White and Moscone hadn’t been in the mayor’s large ceremonial office more than five minutes before Cyr heard White’s voice raised, shouting at Moscone. George hated scenes and decided to try to mollify the former supervisor by inviting him to a small den off his office where he kept a wet bar. He lit a cigarette, poured two drinks, and turned to see White brandishing a revolver. White pulled the trigger and fired a bullet into Moscone’s arm, near the shoulder, and immediately shot a second slug into the mayor’s right pectoral. Moscone sank to the floor as the second bullet tore into his lung. Dan White knelt to the prostate body, poised the gun six inches from the right side of Moscone’s head, and fired a bullet that ripped through Moscone’s earlobe and into his brain. He pulled the trigger again and another bullet sped from the revolver, through Moscone’s ear canal and into the brain. White too Harvey to his old office across the hall. He noticed that his name plate had already been removed from the door. Once Milk stepped inside, White planted himself between him and the door. He drew his revolver and fired. A sharp streak of pain sped through Harvey. “Oh no,” Milk shouted. ‘N—“ he reflexively raised his hand to protect himself. White knew that bullets went through arms, and he fired again, cutting short Harvey’s cry. The slug The Double Assassination
  • 88. 94 Milk vs. The Machine tore into Harvey’s right wrist, ripped into his chest and out again, finally lodging near his left elbow. Another dum-dum bullet pounded Milk in the chest. He was falling now, toward the window. As he crumpled to his knees, Dan White took careful aim from across the office. The first three bullets alone would not have killed Harvey. White took careful aim at staggering figure and fired a fourth bullet, which sliced into the back of his head and out the other side, spraying blood against the wall. The shots sounded so loud they startled White; louder than the shots in Moscone’s office. Harvey had fallen to the floor. White gripped the revolver’s handle and pulled the trigger once more. The bullet left only a dime-sized wound on the outside of Harvey’s skull, but shards from its hollow tip exploded when they struck Harvey’s skull, tearing and ripping into his brain. Harvey Milk died at approximately 10:55 AM on the dark gray morning of November 27. 1978, a year and a half short of his fiftieth birthday. Hundreds of reporteres were rushing to City Hall. Stories were muddled. Was the mayor shot? Was he dead? No, it was Harvey Milk. Milk and one of his aides? Were they dead? And, of course, the question that immediately came to all the reporters’ minds: Were the shootings the work of Peoples Temple hit squad? Jim Jones’s code word for the suicide rituals – “white night” – was also supposed to trigger cadres of Peoples Temple assassins, according to reports from Jonestown. Had they started doing their bloody work?
  • 89. Dan White 95 “ This is Harvey Milk, speaking on Friday, November 18, 1977. This istobeplayedonlyintheeventofmydeathbyassassination.I’ve given it considerable thought to this, not just since the election. I’ve been thinking about this for some time prior to the election and certainly over the years. I fully realize that a person who stands for what I stand for, an activist, a gay activist, becomes the target or potential target for a person who is insecure, terrified, afraid,orverydisturbedwiththemselves.KnowingthatIcouldbe assassinated at any moment or any time, I feel it’s important that some people should understand my thoughts, so the following are my thoughts, my wishes, my desires, whatever, and I’d like to pass them on and played for the appropriate people.
  • 90. Part 4 hope lives on…
  • 91. 98 Milk vs. The Machine “I know you can’t live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living.”
  • 92. On November 10, 1978, 10 months after being sworn in, White resigned his position on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, claiming that his annual salary of $9,600 was not enough to support his family. Milk was also feeling the pinch of the decrease in income when he and Scott Smith were forced to close Castro Camera a month before.[note 8] Within days, White requested that his resignation be withdrawn and he be reinstated, and Mayor Moscone initially agreed. However, further consideration—and intervention by other supervisors—convinced the mayor to appoint someone more in line with the growing ethnic diversity of White’s district and the liberal leanings of the Board of Supervisors. On November 18, news broke of the murder of California Representative Leo Ryan, who was in Jonestown, Guyana to check on the remote community built by members of the Peoples Temple who had relocated from San Francisco. The next day came news of the mass suicide of members of the Peoples Temple. Horror came in degrees as San Franciscans learned more than 400 Jonestown residents were dead. Dan White remarked to two aides who were working for his reinstatement, “You see that? One day I’m on the front page and the next I’m swept right off.” Soon the number of dead in Guyana topped 900. Moscone planned to announce White’s replacement days later, on November 27, 1978. A half hour before the press conference, White entered City Hall through a basement window to avoid metal detectors, and made his way to Moscone’s office. Witnesses heard shouting between White and Moscone, then gunshots. White shot the mayor in the shoulder and chest, then twice in the head after Moscone had fallen Assassination 99 assassination White Night Riots
  • 93. 100 Milk vs. The Machine on the floor. White then quickly walked to his former office, reloading his police-issue revolver with hollow-point bullets along the way, and intercepted Milk, asking him to step inside for a moment. Dianne Feinstein heard gunshots and called the police. She found Milk face down on the floor, shot five times, including twice in the headatcloserange.Afteridentifyingbothbodies, Feinstein was shaking so badly she required support from the police chief. It was she who announced to the press, “Today San Francisco has experienced a double tragedy of immense proportions. As President of the Board of Supervisors, it is my duty to inform you that both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed,” then adding after being drowned out by shouts of disbelief, “and the suspect is Supervisor Dan White.”
  • 94. Assassination 101 Milk was 48 years old. Moscone was 49. Within an hour, White called his wife from a nearby diner; she met him at a church and escorted him to the police, where White turned himself in. Many residents left flowers on the steps of City Hall. That evening, a spontaneous gathering began to form on Castro Street, moving toward City Hall in a candlelight vigil. Their numbers were estimated between 25,000 and 40,000, spanning the width of Market Street, extending the mile and a half from Castro Street. The next day, the bodies of Moscone and Milk were brought to the City Hall rotunda where mourners paid their respects. Six thousand mourners attended a serviceforMayorMosconeatSt.Mary’sCathedral. Two memorials were held for Milk; a small one at Temple Emanu-El and a more boisterous one at the Opera House.
  • 95. 102 Milk vs. The Machine
  • 96. The Hope Speech 103 the hope speech My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you. I’ve been saying this one for years. It’s a political joke. I can’t help it--I’ve got to tell it. I’ve never been able to talk to this many political people before, so if I tell you nothing else you may be able to go home laughing a bit. This ocean liner was going across the ocean and it sank. And there was one little piece of wood floating and three people swam to it and they realized only one person could hold on to it. So they had a little debate about which was the person. It so happened that the three people were the Pope, the President, and Mayor Daley. The Pope said he was titular head of one of the greatest religions of the world and he was spiritual adviser to many, many millions and he went on and pontificated and they thought it was a good argument. Then the President said he was leader of the largest and most powerful nation of the world. What takes place in this country affects the whole world and they thought that was a good argument. And Mayor Daley said he was mayor of the backbone of the Untied States and what took place in Chicago affected the world, and what took place in the archdiocese of Chicago affected Catholicism. And they thought that was a good argument. So they did it the democratic way and voted. And Daley won, seven to two. About six months ago, Anita Bryant in her speaking to God said that the drought in California was because of the gay people. On November 9, the day after I got elected, it started to rain. On the day I got sworn in, we walked to City Hall and it was kinda nice, and as soon as I said the word “I do,” it started to rain again. It’s been raining since then and the people of San Francisco figure the only way to stop it is to do a recall petition. That’s the local joke. So much for that. Why are we here? Why are gay people here? And what’s happening? What’s happening to me is the antithesis of what you read about in the papers and what you hear about on the radio.You hear about and read about this movement to the right.That we must band together and
  • 97. 104 Milk vs. The Machine fight back this movement to the right. And I’m here to go ahead and say that what you hear and read is what they want you to think because it’s not happening. The major media in this country has talked about the movement to the right so the legislators think that there is indeed a movement to the right and that the Congress and the legislators and the city councils will start to move to the right the way the major media want them. So they keep on talking about this move to the right. So let’s look at 1977 and see if there was indeed a move to the right. In 1977, gay people had their rights taken away from them in Miami. But you must remember that in the week before Miami and the week after that, the word homosexual or gay appeared in every single newspaper in this nation in articles both pro and con. In every radio station, in every TV station and every household. For the first time in the history of the world, everybody was talking about it, good or bad. Unless you have dialogue, unless you open the walls of dialogue, you can never reach to change people’s opinion. In those two weeks, more good and bad, but more about the word homosexual and gay was written than probably in the history of mankind. Once you have dialogue starting, you know you can break down prejudice. In 1977 we saw a dialogue start. In 1977, we saw a gay person elected in San Francisco. In 1977 we saw the state of Mississippi decriminalize marijuana. In 1977, we saw the convention of conventions in Houston. And I want to know where the movement to the right is happening. What that is is a record of what happened last year. What we must do is make sure that 1978 continues the movement that is really happening that the media don’t want you to know about. That is the movement to the left. It’s up to CDC to put the pressures on Sacramento--but to break down the walls and the barriers so the movement to the left continues and progress continues in the nation. We have before us coming up several issues we must speak out on. Probably the most important issue outside the Briggs--which we will come to--but we do know what will take place this June. We know there’s an issue on the ballot called Jarvis-Gann. We hear the taxpayers talk about it on both sides. But what you don’t hear is that it’s probably the most racist issue on the ballot in a long time. In the city and county of San Francisco, if it passes and we indeed have to lay
  • 98. The Hope Speech 105 off people, who will they be? The last in, and the first in, and who are the last in but the minorities? Jarvis-Gann is a racist issue. We must address that issue. We must not talk away from it. We must not allow them to talk about the money it’s going to save, because look at who’s going to save the money and who’s going to get hurt. We also have another issue that we’ve started in some of the north counties and I hope in some of the south counties it continues. In San Francisco elections we’re asking--at least we hope to ask that the U.S. government put pressure on the closing of the South African consulate. That must happen. There is a major difference between an embassy in Washington which is a diplomatic bureau. and a consulate in major cities. A consulate is there for one reason only -- to promote business, economic gains, tourism, investment. And every time you have business going to South Africa, you’re promoting a regime that’s offensive. In the city of San Francisco, if everyone of 51 percent of that city were to go to South Africa, they would be treated as second-class citizens. That is an offense to the people of San Francisco and I hope all my colleagues up there will take every step we can to close down that consulate and hope that people in other parts of the state follow us in that lead. The battles must be started some place and CDC is the greatest place to start the battles. I know we are pressed for time so I’m going to cover just one more little point. That is to understand why it is important that gay people run for office and that gay people get elected. I know there are many people in this room who are running for central committee who are gay. I encourage you. There’s a major reason why. If my non-gay friends and supporters in this room understand it, they’ll probably understand why I’ve run so often before I finally made it. Y’see right now, there’s a controversy going on in this convention about the gay governor. Is he speaking out enough? Is he strong enough for gay rights? And there is controversy and for us to say it is not would be foolish. Some people are satisfied and some people are not. You see there is am major difference--and it remains a vital difference--between a friend and a gay person, a friend in office and a gay person in office. Gay people have been slandered nationwide. We’ve been tarred and we’ve been brushed with the picture of pornography. In Dade County, we were accused of child molestation. It’s not enough anymore just to have friends represent us. No matter how good that friend may be.
  • 99. 106 Milk vs. The Machine The black community made up its mind to that a long time ago. That the myths against blacks can only be dispelled by electing black leaders, so the black community could be judged by the leaders and not by the myths or black criminals. The Spanish community must not be judged by Latin criminals or myths. The Asian community must not be judged by Asian criminals or myths. The Italian community must not be judged by the mafia, myths. And the time has come when the gay community must not be judged by our criminals and myths. Like every other group, we must be judged by our leaders and by those who are themselves gay, those who are visible. For invisible, we remain in limbo--a myth, a person with no parents, no brothers, no sisters, no friends who are straight, no important positions in employment. A tenth of the nation supposedly composed of stereotypes and would-be seducers of children--and no offense meant to the stereotypes. But today, the black community is not judged by its friends, but by its black legislators and leaders. And we must give people the chance to judge us by our leaders and legislators. A gay person in office can set a tone, con command respect not only from the larger community, but from the young people in our own community who need both examples and hope. The first gay people we elect must be strong. They must not be content to sit in the back of the bus. They must not be content to accept pablum. They must be above wheeling and dealing. They must be--for the good of all of us--independent, unbought. The anger and the frustrations that some of us feel is because we are misunderstood, and friends can’t feel the anger and frustration. They can sense it in us, but they can’t feel it. Because a friend has never gone through what is known as coming out. I will never forget what it was like coming out and having nobody to look up toward. I remember the lack of hope--and our friends can’t fulfill it. I can’t forget the looks on faces of people who’ve lost hope. Be they gay, be they seniors, be they blacks looking for an almost-impossilbe job, be they Latins trying to explain their problems and aspirations in a tongue that’s foreign to them. I personally will never forget that people are more important than buildings. I use the word “I” because I’m proud. I stand here tonight in front of my gay sisters, brothers and friends because I’m proud of you. I think it’s time that we have many legislators who are gay and proud of that fact and do not have to remain in the closet. I think that a gay person, up-front, will not walk away from a responsibility and be afraid of being tossed out of office. After Dade County, I walked among the angry and the frustrated night after night and I looked at their faces. And in San Francisco, three days before Gay Pride Day, a person was killed
  • 100. The Hope Speech 107 just because he was gay. And that night, I walked among the sad and the frustrated at City Hall in San Francisco and later that night as they lit candles on Castro Street and stood in silence, reaching out for some symbolic thing that would give them hope. These were strong people, whose faces I knew from the shop, the streets, meetings and people who I never saw before but I knew. They were strong, but even they needed hope. And the young gay people in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias and the Richmond, Minnesotas who are coming out and hear Anita Bryant on television and her story. The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us’es, the us’es will give up. And if you help elect to the central committee and other offices, more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfran- chised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone. So if there is a message I have to give, it is that I’ve found one overriding thing about my personal election, it’s the fact that if a gay person can be elected, it’s a green light. And you and you and you, you have to give people hope. Thank you very much.
  • 101. 108 Milk vs. The Machine
  • 102. The Hope Speech 109 Harvey Bernard Milk May 22, 1930 - November 27, 1978
  • 103. Book Sources: Shilts, Randy. The Mayor of Castro Street: the Life & times of Harvey Milk. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008. Print. Milk A Pictorial History of Harvey Milk. Paw Prints, 2010. Print. Krakow, Kari, and David Gardner. The Harvey Milk Story. Ridley Park, PA: Two Lives Pub., 2001. Print. Hinckle, Warren. Gayslayer!: the Story of How Dan White Killed Harvey Milk and George Moscone & Got Away with Murder. Virginia City, NV: Silver Dollar, 1985. Print. Newspaper Sources: Smith, Julie. “The Second Time Around for Milk.” San Francisco Chronicle [San Francisco] 23 Oct. 1975. Print. Zune, Maitland. “White Felt Betrayed by Moscone.” San Francisco Chroni- cle [San Francisco] 28 Nov. 1978. Print. Murphy, George. “It Was a Proud Year for Supervisor Milk.” San Francisco Chronicle [San Francisco] 28 Nov. 1978. Print. Hinckle, Warren. “Milk’s Hopes for S.F. Homogeneity.” San Francisco Chronicle [San Francisco] 28 Nov. 1978. Print. Film Sources: The times of Harvey Milk. Dir. Rob Epstein. Perf. Harvey Milk. Black Sand Productions, 1984. DVD. Milk. Dir. Gus Van Sant. Perf. Sean Penn. Focus Features, 2008. DVD. Bibliography