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Jun 18, 2018 230 tweets >60 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
During #PrideMonth, I'll be tweeting about some of the LGBTQ+ community's lesser-known history.

Today, I'd like to talk to you about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, whose legacy has become tragically ambiguous. (THREAD)
"Tell me about a complicated man," begins Emily Wilson's latest translation of The Odyssey. "Tell me about how he wandered and was lost ... Tell the old story for our modern times. Find the beginning."

I'm going to try to do that with Harvey.
His legacy is one not just of gay liberation, but of bridging the gap between government and the individual. And yet we often hear his name only in passing, or a mention of his death on lists cataloging gay icons, despite the fact that his biopic Milk won two Academy Awards.
So, let's get to know Harvey by starting at the beginning.

He was born in New York City to Lithuanian Jewish parents. His grandfather, Morris Milk, was a department store owner who helped organize the first synagogue in the area. Activism was kinda in his blood.
Harvey played football in school and was passionate about opera. By his teens, he knew that he was gay, though he wouldn't come out until much later. He graduated in 1947 and went on to attend New York State College for Teachers in Albany.
After he graduated, Harvey joined the US Navy and served during the Korean War aboard the rescue submarine USS Kittiwake as a diving officer. Later, he transferred to San Diego to serve as a military diving instructor.
In 1955, Harvey resigned from the US Navy at the rank of lieutenant, junior grade. He'd been officially questioned about his sexual orientation, and no longer feeling welcome, he began teaching at George W. Hewlett High School on Long Island.
He met Joe Campbell at Jacob Riis Park beach in 1956, a popular hangout for gay men at the time. They soon became lovers, cultivating a passionate relationship. Even after they moved in together, Harvey is said to have written him romantic notes and poems.
After almost six years together, Campbell and Harvey split when Campbell allegedly stopped showing an interest in sex. Despite this, they remained friends. Campbell was Harvey's longest relationship.
His next relationship was with Craig Rodwell, a member of the Mattachine Society, one of the first gay rights organizations in the US. You can read more about it in my thread overviewing pre- and post-Stonewall history linked at the bottom of this thread.
Despite how Harvey would later challenge the system of oppression against LGBTQ+ people himself, he disapproved of Craig's association with the Mattachine Society. This came to a head when Craig was arrested in Riis Park during a police raid.
He was charged with "inciting a riot" and with "indecent exposure" for wearing a swimsuit that didn't fit New York City's laws, which stated men's swimwear had to extend from above the navel to below the thigh.

He spent three days in jail.
Afterward, Harvey ended the relationship. He thought Craig was too outspoken, that he provoked the police, and accused Craig of giving him gonorrhea.

Craig would later be present at the Stonewall Riots. He also helped found the Pride movement with Brenda Howard.
For most of the 1960s, Harvey waffled on a career path. He was a researcher at the Wall Street firm Bache & Company for a time and worked on Republican Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign—you know, the guy who opposed the Civil Rights Act? Not exactly a good look.
Harvey recruited Jack Galen McKinley, a 16-year-old boy, to help out with Goldwater's campaign. They soon became romantically involved. Harvey was 34 at the time, and I'm honestly not sure whether their relationship was legal, but either way, that's one hell of an age gap.
Unsurprisingly, the relationship didn't work out. Though Harvey had by now demonstrated he had a "thing" for younger men (Joe was seven years younger than him and Craig was his junior by a whole decade), Jack was especially young and prone to bouts of severe depression.
Jack reportedly did a lot of drugs, and sometimes he would threaten to kill himself if Harvey didn't pay him enough attention. This hit home with Harvey in a way Jake might not have been expecting.
Joe Campbell, Harvey's first boyfriend (that we know of), was recovering from a suicide attempt at the time. Harvey took Jake to Joe's house so that Jake could understand the consequences of his actions and how his threats affected Harvey. For a while, things improved.
Jake started working as a stage manager for Tom O'Horgan, an experimental theater direction who soon graduated to Broadway productions. In 1969, Harvey and Jake traveled to San Francisco with the touring company for a production of Hair.
Harvey fell in love with San Francisco. In particular, he was enthralled by Castro Street, which has an interesting LGBTQ+ history all its own dating back to the end of World War II.
The short version is that gay men who'd been expelled from the military chose to stay in San Francisco rather than return home to face ostracism. By 1969, the Kinsey Institute had named San Francisco as the city with the most gay people per capita in America.
This is where Harvey's political affiliations and outlook on his sexuality began to change. After the US invasion of Cambodia, he started spending more time with "flower children" and hippies and protesting the Vietnam War.
Eventually, he had to return to New York when his California employer demanded he cut his long hair. Harvey refused and was summarily fired.

He started working with O'Horgan's theater company, where he quickly adopted more liberal views.
It was there that Harvey met Scott Smith and entered into what was arguably his most important relationship. He moved with Harvey to San Francisco in the 70s, where they opened up a camera store on Castro Street.
To give you some context as to the Castro's issues around this time, both the Society for Individual Rights (SIR) and the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) had been active in the city since the 1960s, working against police persecution of LGBTQ+ people.
Entrapment and raids on gay bars were some of the cops' go-to techniques for rounding up, beating, and/or arresting LGBTQ+ people. For more info, I suggest reading my threads on the Cooper Donuts, Stonewall, and Black Cat Tavern riots in the links at the end of this thread.
Incredibly, oral sex was still a felony in San Francisco during the 1970s. The mayor, Joseph Alioto, had ordered police to target the parks where gay men would congregate, hoping to appease his Catholic supporters. This led to the arrest of 2800 gay men in 1971 for public sex.
Now, public sex may seem like a pretty good reason to arrest somebody. It's really hard to argue that it isn't. But the bigger problem was that these were called "morals charges," and when you were arrested for one, you were required to register as a sex offender.
Even if you'd been having sex with another consenting adult, you could be labeled an offender. You can imagine the issues that came with this, including but not limited to losing one's job and being unable to find another, or having nowhere to live.

Or getting killed.
It's also important to note just how prejudiced and incompetent Alioto was. Though he had managed to arrest thousands of gay men for consensual sex, the Zodiac Killer, the Symbionese Liberation Army attacks, and the Black Power Zebra Murders all occurred under his governance.
On top of that, his refusal to grant the SFPD a pay raise led to 90% of the city's police and firefighters striking, even though California law prohibited them from doing so. He tried to stop them via court order. The messenger he sent was received rather... violently.
It got so bad that there were a mere 45 officers and three fire trucks remaining for *the whole city* to rely on. Most of these officers were African-Americans too afraid to lose their jobs to strike.
Although Supervisor Dianne Feinstein begged Alioto to ask the governor to call upon the National Guard to make up for the deficit, Alioto refused... and crime flourished.

Alioto is a magnificent fuck-up, is what I'm saying.
His refusal led to city-wide protests. The remaining, working police officers began arresting their comrades who were part of the picket lines. Meanwhile, striking firefighters attempted to seize San Francisco International Airport. The fucking Feds had to intervene.
And it gets worse!

While Alioto was clutching his pearls over gay sex, striking police officers started shooting out streetlights. The ACLU got a court order to prohibit them from carrying their service weapons, but the striking cops weren't exactly worried about the law.
Alioto didn't do a damn thing to fix the situation until a bomb went off in his home and someone planted a sign in his lawn reading "Don't Threaten Us." A day later, he suggested the Supervisors should concede to the strikers' demands.

What a coincidence.
In a weird turn of events, the Supervisors refused! So Alioto had to claim a state of emergency to grant himself the proper legislative powers to do it himself. The Supervisors retaliated in truly horrifying fashion.
On the November ballot, they included measures to prevent firefighters from holding second jobs and revoked the mayor's emergency powers. They also required police to be automatically fired if they striked (struck?).

ALL of these initiatives passed by VERY large margins.
Basically, if you were wondering how terrible US laws about striking are and how we've eroded workers' rights to the point of indebting them to a position that may not pay them enough, there you go.

Also, remember the whole "firefighters can't hold second jobs" thing for later.
In the interest of being "fair," Alioto's tenure wasn't all bad—you can basically thank him for the BART and the Embarcadero Center, as well as for hiring more minorities—but it should illustrate how very ridiculous and bigoted his priorities were.
As usual, I told you that story to tell you this one.

The DOB and SIR had started gaining significant political clout. A few politicians noticed and started trying to help out, notably Congressman Phillip Burton, Assemblyman Willie Brown, and Supervisor Dianne Feinstein.
Brown, with the help of SIR, had pushed for the legalization of sex between consenting adults regardless of orientation in 1969. Though the measure failed, when SIR backed ex-policeman Richard Hongisto in his bid for sheriff, he won, which began legitimizing their movement.
In 1973, Harvey Milk started picking up on some of this momentum. The inciting incident for his direct involvement stems from an incident at his shop when a state bureaucrat entered demanding $100 from him as a deposit against state sales tax.

Harvey wasn't having it.
After he complained to the state offices—for weeks—about the issue, he got the deposit reduced to $30. Still, he was infuriated, and his ire only grew when a teacher came in to borrow a projector because the equipment in their school didn't work.
The Watergate hearings were the last straw. As Attorney General John Mitchell answered "I don't recall" to nearly every question asked of him, Harvey decided to run for city supervisor. In his words, "I finally reached the point where I knew I had to become involved or shut up."
Harvey wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms, though. Jim Foster, who'd been active in gay politics for a decade, wasn't a fan of Harvey's "presumptuous" attitude. Specifically, Harvey had asked him for his endorsement as city supervisor, even though had no political experience.
Foster is quoted as having told Harvey, "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."
Foster was a part of the Alice B. Toklas Memorial Democratic Club, sometimes just called Alice. It was an organization with a lot of clout in San Francisco at the time, and since Foster was the first openly gay man to address a political convention, Alice backed him completely.
Now that Harvey and Foster were feuding, it put Harvey at odds with Alice. Despite this, some gay bar owners endorsed him anyway. They saw Alice's approach to police harassment as timid and were charmed by Harvey's more aggressive tactics.
Harvey was a true outsider. He tried to run his campaigns without money or staff, believing his message would be enough. He ran on a "culturally liberal" platform and opposed government interference in private sexual matters. He even championed the legalization of marijuana.
Despite his inexperience, the novelty of his message was enough to net him almost 17,000 votes during the 1973 election. He came in 10th out of 32 candidates. Had the elections been reorganized to allow districts to elect their own supervisors, he would have won.
Realizing he was going to need help, Harvey began organizing coalitions. When the Teamsters wanted to strike against Coors and other beer distributors who refused to sign the union contract, they came to Harvey, hoping he'd be able to persuade gay bar owners to join their cause.
Harvey agreed on the condition that the union hire more gay drivers, and a few days later, he canvassed the gay bars in the area, urging the owners to side with the Teamsters by refusing to sell beer from those distributors.
The boycott proved successful, netting Harvey a strong ally in organized labor and styling him as "The Mayor of Castro Street." Tom O'Horgan, the director Harvey had once worked for, said, "Harvey spent most of his life looking for a stage. On Castro Street, he finally found it."
But the Castro wasn't gay Utopia, either. In 1973, two gay men tried to open an antique store and the Eureka Valley Merchants Association tried to withhold their business license in response.

Harvey stepped in by founding the Castro Village Association.
The Association promoted the idea that gay people should patron gay businesses. He also organized the Castro Street Fair in 1974, stunning the EVMA, who'd thought they had a stranglehold on commerce in the area.
The following year, Harvey ran for supervisor once more. He revamped his image, cutting his long hair and swearing off marijuana. He even vowed to stop visiting gay bathhouses (essentially, places where gay men went to have sex).
He had the support of the Teamsters, firefighters, and construction unions. He campaigned for supporting small businesses and the growth of neighborhoods, which was in direct opposition to Mayor Alioto's "growth-oriented" policies.
Since the late 1960s, Alioto had been coaxing corporations to "colonize" the city, leading to what some critics called "the Manhattanization of San Francisco." Blue-collar jobs were being replaced by the service industry, which eventually led to Alioto losing his mayoral seat.
The new mayor, George Moscone, had repealed San Francisco's sodomy law earlier that year. He thanked Harvey personally for his assistance in making his campaign a success and offered him a position as a city commissioner.
Harvey lost the supervisor election once more, but this time he came in seventh, only one position away from victory. Still, it was a triumph overall—liberal politicians now held the officers of mayor, district attorney, and sheriff.
Despite this, conservatism was alive and well, as was bigotry. When Mayor Moscone appointed Charles Gain as police chief of the SFPD, most of the force were furious. They didn't like that Gain criticized them for racism and alcohol abuse in the papers.
When Gain announced that gay police officers would be welcome in the SFPD, it became national news, and the SFPD found a new reason to hate him. They also felt Moscone had betrayed them as mayor. This is, unfortunately, important to what happens later.
Moscone kept his promise to Harvey, appointing him to the Board of Permit Appeals in 1976 and making him the first openly gay city commissioner in American history. But Harvey was looking to move up in the world and decided to run for a position in the California State Assembly.
This was a big problem.

Moscone had already made a deal with the existing assembly speaker to endorse another candidate, Art Agnos. On top of that, Moscone had recently ordered that neither appointed nor elected officials were allowed to run a campaign while in office.
Harvey held his position for a mere five weeks before he was fired for announcing his intentions to run for the state assembly. This only served to make him the political underdog, which gave him a surprising advantage.
He established his position as someone the high officers in the city and state governments were actively working against. Considering he'd just been fired and that Moscone had been making backroom deals, it was pretty convincing to his supporters.
He even took on the Alice club, accusing them of shutting him out, while also referring to Jim Foster as a "gay Uncle Tom." This led to a local magazine running a headline Harvey embraced wholeheartedly: Harvey Milk vs. The Machine.
Now, you remember when we talked about Joe Campbell, Harvey's former lover, attempting suicide?

The reason he'd tried to kill himself was because he'd become depressed after his boyfriend left him.

His boyfriend's name was Oliver Sipple.
Some of you may recognize this name right off the bat, but for those of you who don't—when Sara Jane Moore tried to assassinate President Ford in 1975, Oliver Sipple was the one who stopped her.
This was a huge publicity opportunity for Harvey, and as he saw it, for the gay community. The "problem" was that Sipple was on psychiatric disability leave from the Marines, and he didn't want his sexuality disclosed.

Remember when I called Harvey "complicated"? This is why.
In one of the biggest dick moves he could possibly make, Harvey contacted a newspaper anyway, telling 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."
The San Francisco Chronicle ran the story a few days later, outing Sipple as both gay and a friend of Harvey's. The announcement gained national attention, with Harvey's name included in many of the stories. Time even named Harvey as a leader in San Francisco's gay community.
While this all worked out well for Harvey, Sipple was inundated with and harassed by reporters, as was his family. His mother was a Baptist, and when she found out he was gay, she disowned him. He ended up suing the Chronicle and several other newspapers for invasion of privacy.
Sipple never did win that suit, and his mental and physical health fell into sharp decline. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, became addicted to alcohol, required a pacemaker, and later said the incident was so damaging to him he regretted saving President Ford entirely.
But it gets worse.

In 1989, an acquaintance found Sipple dead in his apartment, a bottle of Jack beside him and the TV still on. He'd been dead about 10 days and was only 47 years old. A mere 30 people attended his funeral. #RestInPride
Harvey disparaged the note that President Ford and his wife sent Sipple thanking him for his service, stating that if Sipple weren't gay, he would've gotten an invitation to the White House. That note, however, was Sipple's most prized possession, which he had framed.
While Sipple was dealing with the fallout of becoming a martyr for Harvey Milk's cause, Harvey was continuing his campaign out of his shop, Castro Camera in a way that was... less than organized.
Harvey's kept both his volunteer lists and other important notes on random scraps of paper. When the campaign needed money, he just took it from the cash register without keeping a record of how much and when.

The campaign manager's assistant was an 11-year-old girl.
Those who worked on the campaign described Harvey as "hyperactive" and "prone to fantastic outbursts of temper." Scott Smith, Harvey's boyfriend, bore the brunt of a lot of Harvey's verbal abuse. He started to get disillusioned. Where was the hippie he'd fallen in love with?
But Harvey was also very dedicated. He spent hours registering voters and meeting with potential supporters at bus stops and in movie theater lines. He was a master of self-promotion, and a genius at garnering media attention (as evidenced by the Sipple incident).
Now, are you ready for this thread to get weird?

'Cause it turns out one of the places Harvey and his volunteers distributed campaign literature was at the Peoples Temple.

If you've ever uttered the phrase "drank the Kool-Aid," the Peoples Temple is what you're referring to.
Specifically, you're talking about Jim Jones, the leader of this cult who would go on to coax 918 people—a third of them children—to kill themselves at Jonestown in 1978 by drinking Kool-Aid laced with cyanide.

He, of course, did not partake.
If you haven't heard of this incident, here's an article. It is batshit-bonkers. I may talk about it another time because it's a part of history we refer to offhandedly pretty often, but a lot of people don't actually know the specifics, and they should.…
The Peoples Temple had A LOT of political power back then, and Harvey frequented their establishment for personal reasons too. As such, he knew Jim Jones and was friendly enough with him to ask for his help with his campaign.
Harvey was allowed to court Temple members as voters and use them to work his phones.

In exchange, he wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter defending Jones' character, going so far as to disparage outspoken Temple defectors as "liars."

Harvey's attitude changed when he found out Jones was endorsing both him and his political rival, Art Agnos. He told a friend, "Well, fuck him. I'll take his workers, but that's the game Jim Jones plays."
He did tell his volunteers to remain friendly with the Temple, though, and to do whatever was asked of them. "And then," he added, "send them a note thanking them for asking you to do it."
Harvey lost again, this time by fewer than 4000 votes. Agnos, the winner, offered this advice: "You talk about how you're gonna throw the bums out, but how are you gonna fix things—other than beat me? You shouldn't leave your audience on a down."
It was then Harvey realized his real opponent was the Alice club, who would never support him. If he was going to have a shot, he'd have to lessen their power.

So he did what he did best—took his toys, went home, and co-founded the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club.
It's time for a little more national context.

The first thing to note is that up to this point, the gay rights movement hadn't met with organized opposition (besides the police) in the US.

In 1977, that would change.
After gay activists in Miami, Florida were able to get a civil rights ordinance passed that made discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal in Dade County, Anita Bryant, a very popular Top-40 singer and fundamentalist Christian, launched a campaign against them.
She and her conservative brethren opposed the ordinance on the grounds that it "infringed on her right to teach her children Biblical morality."

Does this sound familiar? Because we are still having this argument 41 years later and ASLDKSFSDMFSKDFJ—
The Save Our Children campaign gathered 64,000 signatures to put the issue to a county-wide vote. Bryant also used her position as the spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission to access tremendous amounts of funding and run a series of insidious ads.
In these ads, Bryant and her ilk framed the future of Dade County as "a hotbed of homosexuality" where "men ... cavort with little boys."

This caught the attention of Jim Foster, one of Harvey's political rivals and the most powerful political organizer in San Francisco.
He flew to Miami to help organize a nationwide boycott of orange juice, but they were overwhelmed by the effectiveness of Bryant's campaign, and in the largest turnout in any special election in the history of Dade County, 70% voted to repeal the anti-discrimination ordinance.
This emboldened Christian conservatives, who saw it as an opportunity to get involved with a new, effective political cause. John Briggs, the state senator of California at the time, decided to pander to them to get himself elected governor.
Harvey saw it differently. He led over 3,000 Castro residents on a five-mile march through the city. "Out of the bars and into the streets!" they chanted, pulling people out of gay bars to make them join the protest.
"This is the power of the gay community," Harvey declared that night. "Anita's going to create a national gay force."

But they underestimated Bryant and her cause; anti-discrimination ordinances were overturned in Saint Paul, Wichita, and Eugene throughout 1977 and into 1978.
Meanwhile, Briggs, who was flirting with Christian conservatives ahead of the election, was catching some heat. He told gay journalist Randy Shilts he had nothing against gays, but "It's politics. Just politics."

"Just politics" had severe consequences for the Castro, though.
Hate crimes against gay people were on the rise following the Save Our Children debacle. Since the police response was inadequate, to say the least, groups of gay people started patrolling the streets to protect their own.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for Robert Hillsborough.
On June 21st, 1977, Robert was beaten and stabbed fifteen times while his attackers gathered around him chanting, "F*ggot!" His friend, Jerry Taylor, managed to escape... just barely.
Only one of the men involved in this crime was convicted of murder. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The three others were held, but released and faced no consequences for their actions. Robert was only 33 years old. #RestInPride
Both Mayor Moscone and Robert's mother blamed Anita Bryant and John Briggs for her son's death. Robert's family actually filed a $5m lawsuit against Bryant for inciting hatred toward gay people. It's hard to argue they weren't guilty.
The week before Robert's death, in fact, Briggs had held a press conference at San Francisco City Hall where he called the city a "sexual garbage heap" due to the prevalence of homosexuals. If that's not violent rhetoric, I'm not sure what is.
While the lawsuit against Bryant was dismissed, 250,000 people attended the 1977 San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade which followed. It was the largest attendance of any Gay Pride event up to that point in history, and Harvey's time to shine.
In 1976, voters had decided to reorganize the supervisor elections to allow neighborhoods to choose their own supervisors. Harvey quickly became the leading candidate in District 5, the area surrounding Castro Street.
This race saw an incredible turnout not only of voters, but candidates. 17 people entered the next race for supervisor, more than half of them gay. The Castro Village Association grew to 90 businesses, including the local bank, which grew to become the largest in the city.
Harvey was up against a lot of competition, but the most formidable candidate was Rick Stokes. Stokes had been openly gay for much longer than Harvey had and was backed by the Alice club. He'd also experienced more hardship than Harvey, having experienced conversion therapy.
The main point they differed on was that Harvey was a populist. While Stokes was quoted as saying, "I'm just a businessman who happens to be gay," Harvey told the New York Times, "We don't want sympathetic liberals, we want gays to represent gays."
But Harvey didn't focus exclusively on gay liberation. His campaign also promoted larger and less expensive child care facilities, free public transportation, and the creation of a board of civilians who would oversee the police.
His campaign tactics were eccentric, as always. He used "human billboards" and committed to hours-long handshaking excursions. He made dozens of speeches calling on the gay community to have hope. As a result, even The San Francisco Chronicle endorsed him for supervisor.
The election was held on November 8th, 1977. This time, Harvey won by a 30% margin over the 16 other candidates running against him.

He rode into Castro Street on the back of his campaign manager's motorcycle.
The crowd welcomed him with raucous cheers. His election made both national and international headlines. It was a huge triumph for the LGBTQ+ community, and for Harvey himself.
But Harvey also wasn't unaware of what increased visibility meant for him. Ever since he'd entered the race for the California State Assembly, he'd been the target of increasingly violent death threats. He understood there was a possibility of assassination.
After the election, he recorded his thoughts on tape, including who he wanted to succeed him in case the worst came to pass. This begat one of his most famous quotes:

"If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."
In 1978, Harvey Milk was sworn in as supervisor, making him the first non-incumbent, openly gay man in United States history to win an election for public office. He walked into City Hall arm-in-arm with his new boyfriend, Jack Lira.
"You can stand around and throw bricks at Silly Hall," he told Jack, "or you can take it over. Well, here we are."
Carol Ruth Silver, a former Freedom Rider; Gordon Lau, a Chinese-American; and Ella Hill Hutch, an African-American woman, were also sworn in that day alongside Harvey Milk. All were firsts for the city.
Incidentally, San Francisco just elected its first black, female mayor, London Breed, this week. She was formerly a supervisor representing District 5, Harvey Milk's old district, which encompassed the Castro.…
But it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows.

Dan White, a former police officer and firefighter, was also sworn in that day as a first-time supervisor.

At the time, no one had any way of knowing they were swearing in a murderer.
Harvey immediately made his distaste for the Alice club known, telling Mayor Moscone that he would have to go through Harvey rather than the Alice club if he wanted the city's gay votes, which made up a quarter of San Francisco's voting population.
Despite this aggressive approach, Harvey became Moscone's closest ally on the Board of Supervisors, and the two enjoyed an amicable working relationship when Moscone wasn't having to deal with Harvey's unpredictability and penchant for pranks.
Harvey was a popular supervisor. He sponsored an anti-discrimination bill as part of a reform agenda which called for the conversion of military facilities in the city to low-cost housing, as well as a tax-code revision to attract industry to deserted warehouses and factories.
Harvey also pressured Moscone to improve services for the Castro, including library services and support for community policing. Within his first year, he went toe-to-toe with real estate developers and corporations to oppose a parking garage being erected in place of homes.
His first controversy involved Dan White. A proposal to place a mental health facility for juvenile offenders who'd committed murder, arson, rape, and other crimes had come to a series of votes. White's district would be its home.
White was strongly opposed, and at first, Harvey agreed with him, voting against Dianne Feinstein and other, more tenured members of the board. But after he learned a little more about the facility, he changed his vote, ensuring White would lose.
White retaliated by opposing every proposal and initiative Harvey supported. When Harvey sponsored a civil rights bill outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation, the "most stringent and encompassing in the nation," White voted against it.

It passed without him.
But amid all these victories, Harvey suffered a terrible personal loss. Jack Lira, his boyfriend, had become an alcoholic and often had to be escorted out of public events. Harvey was thinking of ending his relationship with Lira when he received a call demanding he come home.
When Harvey arrived, he found Jack had hanged himself. One of the notes he left behind stated he was anxious and depressed over Anita Bryant's and John Briggs' campaigns.
I couldn't find a lot of information on Jack. I couldn't even find a birth date. But I'm going to take a moment to comment on how horrifying his suicide was, especially for Harvey.
Allegedly, Jack attempted to time his suicide so that when Harvey came home, he'd be dead... but his legs would still be kicking. He also left notes all over their apartment, stuffing some into books and into the seams of Harvey's underwear.
One of his notes read, "You've always loved the circus, Harvey. What do you think of my last act?" Another said, "You're a lousy lover, Harvey." But the most unnerving said, "Beware of the Ides of November."

That's foreshadowing, for those of you playing along at home.
Harvey didn't even have much time to mourn; Proposition 6 soon reared its ugly head in California. Dubbed "the Briggs Initiative," it attempted to write into law mandatory firing of gay teachers and any public school employees who supported gay rights.
Harvey campaigned throughout the state in opposition, saying that if Briggs won California, he still would not win San Francisco. He engaged in numerous debates with Briggs on the subject and attended every. single. event that Briggs hosted.
Briggs insisted that gay teachers wanted to abuse and "recruit" children as a new generation of depraved homosexuals. As insulting as this was, Harvey wasn't gonna throw away his shot at reaching people by strangling Briggs to death on stage, which is probs what I would've done.
Harvey brought statistics to the battle instead, having compiled them from law enforcement agencies to show that the vast majority of pedophiles identified as heterosexual.
Still, he couldn't resist a few dismissive jokes. "If it were true that children mimicked their teachers," he once said, "you'd sure have a hell of a lot more nuns running around."
Soon after, Harvey delivered his most famous speech, the "Hope Speech," which The San Francisco Examiner said "ignited the crowd" at the Gay Freedom Day Parade of 1978.
"On this anniversary of Stonewall," he said, "I ask my gay sisters and brothers to make the commitment to fight. For themselves, for their freedom, for their country ... We will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets.
We are coming out to tell the truths about gays, for I am tired of the conspiracy of silence, so I'm going to talk about it. And I want you to talk about it. You must come out. Come out to your parents, your relatives."
He also slyly credited Anita Bryant and her homophobic conservative Christian followers with educating the United States population about homosexuality. "The first step is always hostility, and after that, you can sit down and talk about it."
Perhaps shockingly, Ronald Reagan opposed Prop 6, as did Governor Jerry Brown and President Jimmy Carter, and on November 7th, 1978, Prop 6 failed to pass by more than a million votes. 75% of San Franciscans voted against it.
You remember Dan White, right? The supervisor who got pissed at Harvey for contributing to White losing a vote?

On November 10th, 1978, not even a full year after he was sworn in, he resigned on the grounds that his annual salary of $9,600 was not enough to support his family.
For reference, $9600 in 1978 had approximately the same purchasing power as $38,000 today. While that's not a huge salary, White had voted against a proposal earlier that year which would have afforded him a $24,000 annual salary, or over $95,000 in today's economy.
This gave Mayor Moscone the power to appoint a replacement for White, which alarmed White's constituents. They were a conservative district, and out of concern that a liberal might be appointed, they urged him to rescind his resignation and offered their financial support.
Harvey, California Assemblyman Willie Brown, and Carol Ruth Silver were against White's reinstatement and told Moscone so. White had been combative with the other supervisors, and they didn't think it would serve the city for him to remain in his position.
White had serious financial issues. He couldn't legally retain his position as a cop or firefighter during his term (remember that ballot vote I told you to not to forget about?), and the baked potato stand he'd opened at Pier 39 had (shockingly) failed to thrive.
Moscone sided with Harvey and the others, denying White's attempt to rescind his resignation and instead making the move official. He was in the process of appointing a new supervisor when news of the Jonestown massacre made headlines.
The mass suicide of the Peoples Temple members Harvey had once rigorously courted while campaigning involved a tremendous amount of Bay Area residents. One was Leo Ryan, a United States Congressman who was murdered by members of the cult.
San Francisco plunged into mourning. As a reuslt, Moscone postponed his appointment, though he had Don Horanzy in mind. Horanzy was a liberal-leaning federal housing official. White remarked, "You see that? One day I'm on the front page, and the next I'm swept right off."
On November 27th, 1978, Moscone was about half an hour away from holding a press conference to announce White's replacement. At the same time, White was sneaking into City Hall through a window to avoid the newly installed metal detectors.
White was armed with his police-issued .38 and 10 hollow-point bullets. His revolver only took five rounds at a time.

This is an important detail for the trial phase of this Twitter thread.
White headed for Moscone's office, where the mayor was speaking with Willie Brown. When their meeting ended, White entered Moscone's office, narrowly avoiding Brown, who exited through a different door. This saved Brown's life.
White pleaded with Moscone to reconsider appointing someone else to White's former position. This soon turned into a heated argument, and Moscone suggested that they head to a private lounge adjacent to his office to avoid the people waiting outside hearing White making a scene.
There, Moscone lit a cigarette and poured a drink for himself, and one for White. White pulled out his revolver, shooting Moscone in the shoulder and chest. One of the bullets tore through Moscone's lung.
Moscone collapsed. White walked over, stood above him, and fired two shots into Moscone's head from only six inches away, killing him instantly.

Still standing over him, White reloaded.
Dianne Feinstein, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, saw White leave Moscone's office and called after him. White replied, "I have something to do first."
He was headed to his former office when he happened upon Harvey. Coolly, White asked him to come inside the office for a moment. Harvey agreed, and once the door was closed, White blocked any hope of exit.
Dan White shot Harvey five times. The first hit Harvey's right wrist as he raised his hands to protect himself. The next two penetrated Harvey's chest. The fourth was a fatal shot to the head. The fifth was a second close-range shot to his skull just to make sure.
As Feinstein entered the office, White fled. She tried to find Harvey's pulse, but her finger ended up in one of the bullet wounds. In shock, she made a public announcement: "Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed. The suspect is Supervisor Dan White."
White encountered no resistance leaving City Hall. he turned himself in tot he SFPD, where he'd previously been a police officer, confessing to homicide detective Frank Falzon, a friend of White's, "I just shot him."
Dan White's 1979 murder trial would be a spectacle. It would also give birth to a new term for an improbable legal argument with no real grounding in reality: "The Twinkie Defense."

This term also refers to a ridiculous legal argument that allows the defendant to go free.
The prosecution sought a first-degree murder conviction with special circumstances, which would've made way for White to receive the death penalty. They framed the assassination as having been for political reasons, and hammered home the fact White had killed multiple people.
White's defense team claimed the murders weren't premeditated, because White's depression had made him incapable of doing so. As evidence, they cited changes in his diet. Psychiatrist Martin Blinder pointed out that junk food can worsen mood swings.

Hence, the Twinkie Defense.
While the public and the press were rightfully dubious, this expert testimony was enough to sway the jury. When the defense played White's confession, several jury members openly wept in sympathy.
Additionally, the SFPD had raised more than $100,000 to aid in White's defense. After all, he was one of their own, as well as a representative of "old-guard" conservativism, provoked by Moscone and Milk's "erosion" of "traditional values."
Even though White had been carrying enough ammo for a reload, the jury found that White was operating at "diminished capacity," which meant the murders were not premeditated, and convicted White of voluntary manslaughter, the lightest possible conviction for his actions.
This shocking verdict was rendered on May 21st, 1979, the day before what would have been Harvey's 49th birthday. Hours later, San Francisco erupted into the White Night riots, beginning with a march through the Castro.
A group of 500 organized by one of Harvey's friends, Cleve Jones, soon swelled to 1,500. By the time they reached City Hall, they were over 5,000 strong. The SFPD hesitated to proceed. They'd never seen an angry gay crowd like this before.
When the crowd began breaking windows, Harvey's friends intervened, including Scott Smith. A police formation appeared nearby, and thinking the cops would help, those attempting to hold the mob at bay sat down.

The police attacked the protesters with their night sticks instead.
The protest turned into a riot. Police cars were destroyed, their windows busted and their interiors set ablaze. One of the cruisers' fuel tanks exploded. A dozen more would soon follow.
Several protesters stole tear gas from the police cars before they burned them and began throwing the canisters at the police. Traffic was disrupted. Electric trolleys stalled out as rioters pulled their overhead cables down.
The police were vastly outnumbered. Dianne Feinstein, now the mayor, attempted to defuse the situation by announcing her "disbelief" at the verdict.

Supervisor Silver was more straightforward: "Dan White has gotten away with murder. It's as simple as that."
The crowd was not placated. They began throwing things. One object struck Silver, injuring her. 140 protesters were also injured during this phase of the riots.
Police officers responded by launching a full-scale assault. Covering their badges with black tape to avoid identification, dozens swept into the crowd, swinging night sticks and hurling tear gas.
They were surprised to find the crowd refused to back down. They began shoving the police's front line back using tree branches, chrome torn off city buses, and asphalt ripped from the street itself as weapons.
One man ignited a police car, the last which would burn that evening. As he did, he turned to a reporter and called out, "Make sure you put in the paper that I ate too many Twinkies."

This man is my hero.

All told, 60 officers were injured and around 24 arrests were made.
But that wasn't the end of the violence.

The SFPD were furious. Looking for revenge, they launched an assault hours later on the Castro itself, sending dozens of officers into a gay bar called the Elephant Walk.

They were all wearing riot gear.
The officers shouted slurs at the occupants. "Dirty cocksuckers!" "Sick f*ggots!" They shattered the plate glass windows and for fifteen minutes beat the patrons inside, withdrawing only to join other officers who were attacking any gay person they could find on the street.
For two hours, the SFPD terrorized the Castro. When the police chief found out, he drove to the neighborhood and ordered his men to leave, calling the incidents "unauthorized raids."

(Psst. When people say they don't want cops at Pride, this shit is why.)
Michael Weiss, a freelance reporter, witnessed a group of police officers later celebrating their actions at a bar downtown. "We were at City Hall the day [the killings] happened and we were smiling then. We were there tonight and we're still smiling," one of them said.
Over 100 gay residents of the Castro would be hospitalized as a result of police brutality that night, while the Elephant Walk suffered damages in excess of one million dollars.
The next morning, gay leaders convened to inform the public in a press conference that no one was going to apologize for the riots. Supervisor Harry Britt, who had just replaced Milk, was there with the militant members of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club.
"Harvey Milk's people do not have anything to apologize for," he said. "Now the society is going to have to deal with us not as nice little fairies ... but as people capable of violence. We're not going to put up with Dan Whites anymore."
Reporters were shocked to find a public official condoning the violence against the police and the city itself. Several press outlets attempted to find a gay leader who would apologize for the riots.

They couldn't locate a single one.
That night, May 22nd, 20,000 people gathered to mourn Harvey Milk on what would have been his 49th birthday. Cleve Jones coordinated contingency plans with the police to avoid more casualties, training 300 civilian monitors to wrangle the crowd.
Mayor Feinstein placed the SFPD on alert, but they monitored from a distance this time. As a result, the crowd was able to engage in a peaceful celebration of Milk's life, dancing, drinking, and singing tributes.
Meanwhile, in Manhattan, a hundred people held a demonstration to protest the verdict rendered the day before. Two days later, the Coalition of Lesbian and Gay Rights and the National Gay Task Force organized a candlelight vigil in Harvey's honor.
In October of that same year, almost 120,000 protesters marched on Washington for gay rights. Many of them were carrying portraits of Harvey and signs honoring him and his legacy. It was a rally Harvey had intended to organize during his life. Instead, it became a tribute.
Although the protesters were painted by some as conspiracy theorists who believed the courts had conspired with the police to keep Dan White from facing justice... they weren't exactly wrong. The DA himself would later confirm this.
Joseph Freitas, Jr. had been the state's prosecutor. He admitted to having felt sorry for White, which led to him neglecting to perform his duties as he should have, failing almost entirely to even question the police White confessed to that day.
Specifically, he neglected to mention to the jury that the interrogator who recorded White's confession was a childhood friend of White's, and his police softball team coach.
He also failed to interrogate the SFPD about their biases and the moral and financial support White had received from them.

His reasoning? He said he didn't want to embarrass the detective in front of his family in court.
Though the defense was claiming diminished capacity, Freitas didn't even bother to question White's frame of mind or the fact that he had no history of mental illness. He didn't even suggest revenge may have been a motive.
He also didn't bring the Board of Supervisors' politics into evidence, including the aggression White had for not just Harvey and Moscone, but Silver and Willie Brown as well.
The ONLY testimony the jury heard about White's strained relationship with Harvey came from Silver herself, who had to contact the prosecution and DEMAND to be allowed to testify. She did so only on the last day of the trial.
Despite all this, Freitas continued to shift blame, stating that it was the jury's fault as they had been "taken in by the whole emotional aspect of [the] trial." The city's gay residents would regard him with nothing but contempt from there on out.
The assassinations of Milk and Moscone, Dan White's trial, and the White Night riots affected city politics, as well as the California legal system as a whole, to a monumental degree. Some aspects were good. Others, not so much.
In 1980, San Francisco ended district supervisor elections entirely, stating that too much diversity on the board was harmful to the city, caused division, and had been a factor in the assassinations.

Thankfully, this bullshit was overturned in 2000.
California voters abolished diminished capacity as a defense to a charge, though courts still allow evidence of it during the sentencing phase. Herb Caen, columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, attributed such defenses to a "dislike of homosexuals" by the police.
Mayor Feinstein also installed a new chief of police, Cornelius Murphy. Murphy vowed to maintain a progressive policy toward gays, and by 1980, one in seven new police recruits was either gay or a lesbian.
Cleve Jones, Harvey's friend who'd helped organize the White Night riots and candlelight vigil, became a prominent activist. In 1982, he co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and launched the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt in 1987 after testing positive for HIV himself.
In 2004, Jones said, "... what a perfect symbol; what a warm, comforting ... traditional-family-values symbol to attach to this disease that's killing homosexuals and IV drug users and Haitian immigrants, and maybe ... we could apply those traditional family values to my family."
As for Dan White, he was sentenced to serve seven years and eight months at Soledad State Prison. He was paroled in January of 1984 and transported to Los Angeles, where he served a year's parole. He then sought to return to San Francisco.

This fucking guy...
Mayor Feinstein not only issued a public announcement informing the city of his plans, but also made a formal statement requesting that White not return. He chose to do so anyway, intent on rebuilding his life with his wife and children.
His marriage ended soon after, and in 1985, fewer than two years after his release, White killed himself via carbon monoxide poisoning in his garage and did the world a favor. He never, ever expressed remorse for murdering Harvey Milk and George Moscone.
Frank Falzon, the homicide detective who White had turned himself into after the murders, later reported that in 1984, White confessed his defense was all bullshit to the shock of absolutely no one.
Allegedly, White told him he'd not only intended to kill Moscone and Harvey Milk that day, but to also kill Carol Ruth Silver and Willie Brown, who would go on to become the mayor of San Francisco.
"I was on a mission. I wanted four of them. Carol Ruth Silver, she was the biggest snake ... and Willie Brown, he was masterminding the whole thing," White allegedly said.
Falzon was quick to cover his own ass, though. "I felt like I had been hit by a sledge-hammer," he said. "I found out it was a premeditated murder."

Despite this, I could find no evidence that the SFPD ever disavowed White or their support of him.
Still, San Francisco was irrevocably changed by Harvey Milk's work. He believed in the power of neighborhoods, how they promoted community, and that the Castro should be inclusive of all who wished to live there.
He wanted the city to welcome everyone. When an elementary school in the Castro was slated to close, Harvey opposed it, even though most residents in the neighborhood had no children. He envisioned a place where everyone could belong.
He ordered his aides to get potholes fixed and put up 50 new stop signs in his district. He enacted the very first ordinance to mandate citizens had to dispose of their pets' feces. He believed, according to Randy Shilts, that government should solve people's basic problems.
In the last year of his life, he advocated for LGBTQ+ people to be visible and active in ending discrimination and violence against them. Though he never came out to his mother, he urged others to do so.
In the taped statement he made, the one in which he expressed concerns he might be assassinated, Harvey said, "I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they'll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive... that two, three, four, five hundred will step forward, so the gay doctors will come out, the gay lawyers, the gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects ... I hope that every professional gay will say 'enough,' come forward, and ... let the world know. Maybe that will help."
In 2009, Barack Obama posthumously awarded Harvey the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Later that year, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger designated May 22nd as Harvey Milk Day.
And in 2017, a memorial plaza in the Castro district was proposed. Designed by Perkins Eastman, it would honor Harvey Milk's legacy, and not just what he died for, but what he lived for.


Thanks for reading, and I hope you learned something. /THREAD
If you've enjoyed this content, consider buying me a coffee to help me support my family! Every coffee helps:
But wait, there's more!

This is my sixth history thread for #Pride and #PrideMonth. You can find my general overview of pre- and post-Stonewall history here:

You can find my second thread about the Cooper Donuts riot, led by trans women, drag queens, and cis lesbians, here:

My third thread about Leslie Feinberg, a trans Jewish lesbian activist and author of Stone Butch Blues, is here:

My fourth thread about Kitty Genovese's murder and "the bystander effect" is here:

And lastly, my fifth thread about the Black Cat Tavern Riot, Gene Compton's Cafeteria Riot, and the 1965 New Year's Ball Raid, all of which preceded Stonewall, is here:

You can also find my thread on the Pulse terrorist attack and massacre here, but TW for homophobia, violence, and one graphic photo (no photos of the shooter, though):

For additional reading on Harvey Milk, I make the following recommendations...

The official Harvey Milk biography by the Milk Foundation:…

To learn a little more about Robert Hillsborough, click here:…
Chuck Wolfe's excellent article on Harvey's posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom is here:…

Some information on the AIDS crisis and Cleve Jones can be found here:…
An overview of Carol Ruth Silver is here:…

Information on the White Night riots is here:…

Information on the Castro is here:…

And I also highly recommend the 2008 biopic, Milk:
Oh, and here's the unrolled version for those who'd like it.…

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More from @Writer_Coyote

Jul 1, 2018
Narcissists and other abusers tend to use a tactic I refer to as "things will be better when..." to keep stringing along their victims.

My ex used to use it a lot. Maybe talking about it will help some victims realize what's being done to them. (THREAD)
The pattern goes a little something like this:

"Things will be better/I'll be better when X happens."

After a while, X occurs... but nothing changes.

"Well, I didn't expect X to be so hard on me. Things will be better/I'll be better when Y happens."

Y occurs... rinse, repeat.
It's a way of ensuring victims don't leave. After all, they've set a firm goal, haven't they? This plausible, near-future event will happen soon, and after that, things will improve. They're trying. This is proof.

Isn't it?
Read 32 tweets

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