The legacy of Harvey Milk, and remembering the "Twinkie Defense"

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Riots hit the streets of San Francisco after Milk and George Moscone's death.
Guardian archival photos.

Today is Harvey Milk's birthday, but are we celebrating the life of a champion for social justice, or only remembering his assassination? As San Franciscans mourn the city supervisor who fought for gay rights and other progressive issues in San Francisco and statewide, we thought we'd share with you selected articles from our "Milk Issue, [11/18/08]" that discussion his death by examining his life. 

The year was 2008, and to commemorate the opening of the biopic film, Milk, we devoted an issue of the Bay Guardian to honoring the man who gave 'em hope.

In the first selected piece, Guardian founding publisher Bruce Brugmann recalls his first brush with Milk, and the last time he saw him alive. In our second piece, the Guardian's current Publisher Marke B. asks if the LGBT movement canonizes Milk's death without honoring what his life stood for, an important lesson to remember now. The third selection by current and former Guardian Editors-in-Chief, Steven T. Jones and Tim Redmond respectively, who remember Milk's progressive politics. Our fourth piece, penned by soon-to-be termed out Assemblyperson Tom Ammiano, a Milk political ally who dissects the oh-too-familiar tone of discrimination rising up from the opposition to naming San Francisco Airport after Milk. Lastly, a reporter who covered the Milk assassination takes us through a first person account of covering the trial of Milk's killer, Dan White.

And as an extra bonus, we've embedded the issue from after the Dan White trial as a PDF at the bottom of this page.

Check them out below, and remember Milk not only as a man who died, but as a man who lived, and raised hell. 

The Bay Guardian "Milk" issue, circa 2008:

 

I REMEMBER HARVEY

Toward the end of the supervisorial campaign in 1973, I got an intercom call from Nancy Destefanis, our advertising representative handling political ads. Hey, she said, I got a guy here by the name of Harvey Milk who is running for supervisor and I think you ought to talk to him.

Milk? I replied. How can anybody run for supervisor with the name of Milk?

Continued here

 

THE APATHY AND THE ECSTACY

"OMG! Marriage is the new AIDS!" a friend screeched to me through her cell phone after witnessing West Hollywood's cop-clashing response to the passage of Proposition 8. She meant, of course, the unexpected, exhilarating, and somewhat clumsy reemergence of queer protest energy that has overtaken many a civic center and public park since the November election and its attendant LGBT letdown.

Continued here.

 

POLITICS BEHIND THE PICTURE

The new Harvey Milk movie, which opens later this month, begins as a love story, a sweet love story about two guys who meet in a subway station and wind up fleeing New York for San Francisco. But after that, the movie gets political — in fact, by Hollywood standards, it's remarkably political.

The movie raises a lot of issues that are alive and part of San Francisco politics today. The history isn't perfect (see sidebar), but it is compelling. And while we mourn Milk and watch Milk, we shouldn't forget what the queer hero stood for.

Continued here.

 

MILK'S REAL LEGACY

Ever since Supervisor David Campos announced his proposal to add Harvey Milk's name to SFO, there's been an unending string of criticism — mostly from one source — that has an eerily familiar ring to it.

We heard it years ago when we tried to change the name of Douglas School in the Castro to Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy. Believe it or not, it took seven years before the School Board finally voted for the name change — and there was still bitterness. This was a school in Harvey's neighborhood that Harvey personally helped when he was alive.

Continued here.

 

BEHIND THE TWINKIE DEFENSE

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, who wanted to decriminalize marijuana, and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay individual to be elected to public office in America. November also marks the release of a film about the case titled Milk. Although a former policeman, homophobic Dan White, had confessed to the murders, he pleaded not guilty. I covered his trial for the Bay Guardian.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I said "Thank you" to the sheriff's deputy who frisked me before I could enter the courtroom. However, this was a superfluous ritual, since any journalist who wanted to shoot White was prevented from doing so by wall-to-wall bulletproof glass...

Continued here

San Francisco Bay Guardian after Harvey Milk's death by FitztheReporter

 

San Francisco Bay Guardian after Harvey Milk's death by FitztheReporter

Comments

the "Twinkie Defense" and the lack of gays on Dan White's jury who also wax lyrical about OJ's dream team lawyers blatant manipulation of a jury who were packed with non-whites.

Hmmm.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

Really? Would you like to give us examples of your "funny" theory?

Posted by Guest on May. 26, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

Use your eyes and your brain.

Posted by Guest on May. 26, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

Liberals were unhappy that the jury was not similar to alleged victim of Dan White. Liberals were happy that the jury was not similar to alleged victims of OJ Simpson. Therefore Liberals are hypocrites.

Posted by Guest on May. 26, 2014 @ 4:46 pm

I'm excited to read some of the older pieces.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 22, 2014 @ 7:02 pm

Claiming Orwell?

Was Milk a narrow 2014 progressive?

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2014 @ 9:43 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 7:05 am

What about pederasty?

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 8:30 am

Read the articles, Milk was advocating then for many of the same issues the Guardian advocates for today: housing rights, police reform, marijuana legalization, a living wage, worker protections, taxing the rich to pay for Muni, parks, and other public services.

 

Posted by steven on May. 23, 2014 @ 7:18 am
Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 7:35 am

"And while we mourn Milk and watch Milk, we shouldn't forget what the queer hero stood for."

Unwavering support for Jim Jones and the People's Temple?

Even as other politicians (like Willie Brown) figured out that there was something very, very wrong about the People's Temple, Milk never wavered publicly in his support.

Of course, maybe it was simple fear:

"One day a friend of Milk’s named Tory Hartmann dropped off some boxes of campaign brochures at Peoples Temple, so that Jones’s army could distribute them. Hartmann was immediately unnerved by the uptight, high-security atmosphere inside the temple, where sentries stood at attention outside each room, like the palace guards in the Wicked Witch’s castle. “This is a church?” Hartmann said to herself. Later, after she sped back to the Castro and told Milk about her bizarre experience, the naturally cheery politician turned deadly serious. “Make sure you’re always nice to the Peoples Temple,” he told her. “They’re weird and they’re dangerous, and you never want to be on their bad side.”"

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 8:19 am

Since he apparently had no issue with violence.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 9:47 am

Randy Shilts wrote about Milk's pederasty. Does that make you uncomfortable?

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 10:26 am

His BF was 16 - hardly a child.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 23, 2014 @ 12:13 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 1:01 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 1:20 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 1:21 pm

Is that you?

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

Yes, we were all harmed BY THE STATE. In my case my the SF SHERIFF'S OFFICE, and Senators FEINSTEIN AND BOXER, Rep PELOSI and PRESIDENT OBAMA have all conspired to murder my freedom and DESTROY MY LIFE. Watch my YOUTUBE videos and be prepared to TASTE THE LIES and SMELL THE HYPOCRISY. My story will ROCK YOUR WORLD.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on May. 24, 2014 @ 10:44 am

And I still don't understand what happened. Can you lay it out for me step by step? I'd like to help.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2014 @ 2:17 pm
Posted by Becky Backside on May. 27, 2014 @ 6:38 am

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