THE MAYOR OF CASTRO STREET THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HARVEY MILK Sam Brothers
Randy Shilts QuickTimeª and a decompressor are needed to see this picture. Grew up in Aurora, IL, with five brothers in apolitically conservative, working-class family Majored in journalism at the University ofOregon and came out in college at the age of 20. A pioneering gay American journalist and author. He worked as a freelance reporter for both The Advocate and the San Francisco Chronicle. When hired by the latter, he became the first openly gay reporter with a gay ‘beat’ in the American mainstreem press. In addition to his extensive journalism, Shilts wrote three best-selling, widely acclaimed books. Shilts devoted himself to covering the oppression and truth behind homosexual lifestyles and the the story AIDS and its medical, social, and political ramifications.
Praise Applauded for bringing public attention to gay civil- rights issues and the AIDS crisis. Shilts was honored with the 1988 Outstanding Author award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors 1990 Mather Lectureship at Harvard University 1993 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Specifically for The Mayor of Castro Street The book broke new ground for the topic and structure.
Author’s Note “I have relied on the usual technique of using on-the- record interviews or, when that was not possible, corroborating possible points of contention with at least three unnamed sources. That’s a standard rule of reporting and the basic discipline of the book.” “I can only answer that I tried to tell the truth and, if not be objective, at least be fair…there is a journalistic duty to tell the whole story.” “It’s all so strange. Nothing needs to be fictionalized. If somebody tried to write it as fiction, no one would believe it.” -Scott Smith
Synopsis The Mayor of Castro Street the story of Harvey Milk, the man whose personal life, public career, and tragic assassination mirrored the dramatic and unprecedented emergence of the gay community in America during the 1970s. Starts from Milk’s early childhood up until the final moments of his life
Part 1: The Years without Hope Milk was grew up on Long Island. He played football in school, and developed a passion for opera; in his teens, he acknowledged his homosexuality, but kept it a closely guarded secret. Attended New York State College for Teachers in Albany. Joined the US Navy during the Korean War. Milk abruptly became a researcher at a Wall Street firm. Milk became involved with OHorgans theater company. The time he had spent with the cast of hippies wore away much of Milks conservatism. Milk met Scott Smith, 18 years his junior, and began another relationship. Milk and Smith traveled around California living off unemployment checks and later returned to San Francisco, where they opened camera store on Castro Street in 1973, after a roll of film Milk left at a local shop was ruined.
Main Characters Joe Campbell- Milk met his first love, Joe Campbell, in 1956 at the Jacob Riis Park. Even after they moved in together, Milk wrote Campbell romantic notes and poems. Craig Rodwell- In 1962 Milk became involved with Rodwell, who was ten years younger. The relationship soon ended as Milk became alarmed at Rodwells tendency to agitate the police. Jack McKinley- Milk recruited McKinley to work on conservative Republican 1964 presidential campaign. McKinley, 17 years younger than Milk, was prone to depression and frequently threatened to commit suicide if Milk did not show him enough attention. Scott Smith: Smith was widely considered the muscle behind many of Milks endeavors. He organized, created, managed and helped campaign for Milks election to public office from 1974 to 1977 and openly supported and helped after Milk was elected
Part II: The Mayor of Castro Street Upon establishing a home and buisiness on Castro Street, Milk became more interested in political and civic matters when he was faced with civic problems and policies he disliked. Milk displayed an affinity for building coalitions from early in his political career. Milk found a strong political ally in organized labor, and it was around this time that he began to style himself "The Mayor of Castro Street". Milk created a safe-haven for the minorities on Castro Street, transforming the neighborhood and so the entire city of San Francisco. He took advantage of the growing political and economic power of the neighborhood to promote his interests, and ran unsuccessfully for political office three times. His theatrical campaigns earned him increasing popularity, and Milk won a seat as a city supervisor in 1977, part of the broader social changes the city was experiencing.
Main Characters Charles Gains- Immediately criticized 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. Reverend Jim Jones- the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple, which was incredibly powerful. Milk consistently told his volunteers, “Theyre weird and theyre dangerous, and you never want to be on their bad side.” Michael Wong- political activist of the time, kept a diary of every conversation he ever had with Milk. He was one of Milk’s only straight friends, and one of his very best friends and supporters. Medora Payne- 11 student who “just loves Harvey. She’s been wanting to get involved in his campaigns for so long, we couldn’t keep her away if we wanted to.”- Mrs. Payne
Part III: Supervisor Harvey Milk Milks swearing-in made national headlines, as he became the first non-incumbent openly gay man in the United States to win an election for public office. Milk served almost 11 months in office as a city supervisor in 1977 and was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city. “You get the first bullet the minute you stand at the microphone.” On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned but wanted his job back.
Main Characters John Briggs- Brigss announced Proposition 6, The Briggs Initiative. The law proposed the firing of gay teachers and public school employees who supported gay rights because homosexual teachers were after children. Dianne Feinstein- She served as the boards first female president in 1978, during which time the assassinations. Feinstein, who was the first to discover the shootings and announced their assasination to the public. Mayor Geoge Moscone- 37th mayor of San Franciscom, initially was caught up in the “Machine Politics” but remained a liberal, gay-rights activist and Milk supporter. One of his first acts as mayor was appointing Charles Gains as police chief. Anne Kronenberg- campaign manager during campaign in 1977 and his aide as he held that office until the assassination. Kronenberg was one of Milk’s few lesbian friends and one of his most trusted supporters.
Part IV: The Legend Begins Though he was the only supervisor to vote against Milks gay rights ordinance earlier that year, he had been quoted as saying, "I respect the rights of all people, including gays". Milk and White at first got along well. Then Milk voted against a proposal that had been part of White’s campaign platform and White never forgave him for it. White’s arrest and trial caused a sensation, and illustrated severe tensions between the liberal population and the city police. "Good people, fine people, with fine backgrounds, simply dont kill people in cold blood.” White Night Riots Dan White served a little more than five years for the double murder of Moscone and Milk.
Important Themes Discrimination Sexuality Power Identity Hope- “You’ve got to give them hope”