Chad Griffin (seen at right), the new president of the Human Rights Campaign, is starting his job this weekend with events in San Francisco and other cities, the national LGBT lobbying group announced today (Friday, June 8).
The tour is intended to raise awareness of issues facing LGBT youth. HRC recently released a study of LGBT youth that showed higher levels of depression and social isolation compared to their straight counterparts.
At 10 a.m., Sunday, June 10, Griffin will pop into the HRC store at 575 Castro Street. There, he will be joined by Cleve Jones, a friend of Milk’s; Dustin Lance Black, who wrote the screenplay for the biopic Milk; and others at the HRC store.
Then, at 10:30, Griffin will be at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, 4235 19th Street.
Milk was the first out gay person elected to public office in California when he won a San Francisco supervisor’s seat in 1977. He was assassinated in 1978. The HRC store, which also houses a call center for the Trevor Project’s youth hotline volunteers, is located in Milk’s former camera shop.
San Francisco blogger Michael Petrelis wrote Thursday, June 7 that someone had told him of Griffin’s local visit, but no details had been announced.
In his post Thursday, Petrelis said that Griffin has “always been friendly and respectful,” but he said he wasn’t aware of Griffin having “open community forums about the Prop 8 lawsuit.” Griffin is a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which has been responsible for the federal Perry v. Brown case that’s expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Petrelis is a longtime critic of HRC.
In an interview, Petrelis questioned why HRC was giving people such short notice of the Sunday events, but he said he’d attend. He said that he believes the national nonprofit released the details because of his Thursday blog post.
Petrelis said that, among other things, he wants to know if Griffin is “going to hold regular regional meetings open to everyone. The reason why HRC has to do that is because they not only represent their members who can go to their dinners and galas, but they’re seen as the de facto organization for every American, every gay American. … [Griffin] has a responsibility to meet with folks in open forums.”
He also said, “I want to know what his agenda is beyond gays in the military and gay marriage. We have millions of gay single people who don’t want to join the military, and are happy to be single, and their housing, health care, and employment needs need to be addressed.”
HRC spokesman Fred Sainz said Petrelis’s post wasn’t the reason for the organization releasing details on Sunday’s events. He also said the group won’t be holding regional forums.
Sainz said that it’s typical for news releases to be sent out shortly before events. Invitations to the gatherings “went out a long, long time ago,” he said.
The event at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy “is in essence a public forum,” Sainz said. He added that Griffin wanted to come to San Francisco immediately “because that’s how important Harvey Milk’s legacy is to him.”