James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Harvey Milk!

Harvey Milk was born on May 22, 1930 in Woodmere Long Island to middle-class, Jewish parents. He arrived in San Francisco in 1972, an era of massive gay and lesbian migration. Queers from all over the country were pouring into the city and, much like the way the freaks and hippies settled into the Haight Ashbury neighborhood, they were staking out territory in the mostly Irish, working-class neighborhood that was called Eureka Valley.

It was on Castro Street in this neighborhood that Milk opened his camera shop, Castro Camera in 1972.

Milk had made three unsuccesful runs for politcal office before eventually winning the job of supervisior of District 5 in 1977, becoming the first openly gay elected official in San Francisco history.

As a supervisor he fought for protection against discrimination in employment and housing for gay San Franciscans. He worked on legislation to protect the rights of workers, the elderly and minorities. Another focus of his 11 month supervisorial stint as was for the preservation of the character of San Francisco neighborhoods that were moving toward unbridled gentrification.

On November 27th, 1978 supervisor Dan White assasinated both Harvey Milk and mayor George Moscone in their respective offices in city hall. Dan White was later sentenced to only seven years in prison, claiming that his judgement was impaired due to consumption of fast food. This "legal" theory became known as the "twinkie defense."

On the night of Dan White's sentencing, outraged, mostly queer, Californians burned police cars and rioted in protest of the verdict, an event that became known as the "White Night Riot."

The San Francisco Public Library holds two separate archival collections of Harvey Milk's papers and photographs and welcomes members of the public to come in and peruse these materials. To the right is a sample of a letter from Harvey Milk to Joe Campbell, dated 1961, lamenting the end of their relationship.

May 22nd, the day that would have been Milk's 80th birthday has been declared the first Harvey Milk Day. The Biblioqueers of the Queerest Library Ever salute him on his day and commemorate his pride and determination, his great contributions to both the LGBT movement, and the city of San Francisco and his relentless dedication to equality for all people.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Archives May 2010: One Man's Labor of Love

May Day seems the most appropriate day to announce the acquisition of the Howard Wallace Papers by the Hormel Center. Wallace is a gay labor and peace activist who is perhaps best known as a co-founder of Pride at Work (PAW), previously named the Lesbian and Gay Labor Alliance. He was one of the founders of Bay Area Gay Liberation (BAGL) in 1975 and, with Harvey Milk, he led the Coors Beer boycott that began the same year. This photograph by Howard Petrick shows Wallace (in sunglasses).

Howard's activism in Denver, Colorado and in San Francisco over the last 30 years has centered on equal rights for all regardless of sexual orientation or race. He is a tireless advocate for coalition building between communities in order to forge alliances based on mutually identified goals.

A contemporary of Harvey Milk and Randy Shilts, Wallace ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1975 against Milk, among others. Though neither won that election, Milk was elected in 1977.

Wallace organized the first March On Washington for Gay Rights in 1979. He is currently involved with Senior Action Network (SAN), and the San Francisco Labor Council.

Some of the interesting pieces in his Papers include materials on the Coors Boycott, the Florida Orange Juice Boycott, the anti-Briggs Initiative (i.e. No On 6) campaign regarding gay/lesbian teachers in California, materials on housing plans in San Francisco, peace activism and the Yes on N campaign to bring U.S. troops out of Iraq. He is also a long-time proponent of health care unions.

Because the Howard Wallace Papers are a very recent acquisition and not yet organized, they are not currently available for research. All Hormel Center archives are handled through the San Francisco History Center, 6th floor, Main Library. For questions, please contact the San Francisco History Center reference desk at 415-557-4567.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The LGBT Community and Aging

The issues associated with aging present varied challenges for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people. This book, "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Aging: Research and Clinical Perspectives," edited by Douglas Kimmel, Tara Rose and Steven David is an anthology adressing the special needs of our aging community. These include sexuality, physical and mental health, alcohol and substance abuse, legal concerns and end-of-life decision making to name only a few. The chapters range in tone from a clinical data format to more informal and conversational. For interested Bay Area folks, there is also a chapter on the founding of openhouse, the local LGBT retirement housing organization in San Francisco. This anthology with its wide-ranging scope and pertinent information this book is a valuable resource for clinicians, aging LGBTs and those who are involved in their lives.
Other Queer Elder Issues in the News:

The fight for LGBT equal rights in the Social Security System is in full swing. Representative Linda Sanchez is introduced a bill to equalize coverage and the web site rockforequality.org

is also active in the campaign. Check out their videos which include the science fiction classic, "What Kind of Planet Are We On?" and "Portraits of Discrimination."

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is taking on the case of Harold Scull and Clay Greene, an elderly gay couple who had been together twenty years. up until the day that Scull fell down the front steps of their house in Sonoma. At that point, Scull was hospitalized and the men were forcibly separated. Greene was treated as simply his "roommate" and the couty sold off the home and all their joint property. According to the Bay Area Reporter article "Other than a suitcase of his belongings and a photo book Harold made for him, Clay Greene has nothing left of his former life."