Political Notebook: SF Harvey Milk Day plans take shape
by Matthew S. Bajko
Plans to mark the second observance of Harvey Milk Day in San Francisco are slowly taking shape as the only annual state holiday to honor an LGBT person quickly approaches.
This year's Milk Day will take place Sunday, May 22 and coincides with the birthday of the late gay San Francisco supervisor, who became the first out politician in California when he won election in November 1977. Milk died a year later along with then-Mayor George Moscone after being shot inside City Hall by former Supervisor Dan White.
According to those involved in planning this year's celebration, a rally is slated to take place that day at Harvey Milk Plaza at the corner of Castro and Market streets. Immediately following will be a march to the site of Milk's old campaign headquarters and camera shop at 575 Castro Street. Specifics such as time and speakers have yet to be determined.
"That is all I know so far," said Steve Adams , president of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro business association, who attended a recent planning meeting at District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener's office to discuss how to mark the occasion.
The Harvey Milk Foundation is also involved with the planning, which mirror what usually occurs each November to commemorate the deaths of Milk and Moscone. It has launched a website at http://www.harveymilkday.co to promote the holiday but has yet to post any information about San Francisco events.
A companion Facebook page also has little information listed on it about celebrations planned for this year's Milk Day. As of Tuesday, only 27 people had signed up to like the page.
"Our equality movement across the globe will celebrate the life story, message, and legacy of my uncle Harvey Milk. Join thousands across the globe to honor his memory and celebrate his message of hope," reads a message posted by Stuart Milk, Milk's gay nephew, on the Facebook page. "We are asking you to celebrate Harvey Milk's life story, message and legacy in celebrating globally on his birthday to give hope and inspire disenfranchised communities."
Last year the foundation had announced its intent to launch a glitzy awards gala in San Francisco to mark Milk Day each year but then canceled those plans. A local breakfast modeled after a successful event in San Diego did take place but was sparsely attended.
A repeat of the San Francisco breakfast has been nixed, while the foundation is reportedly trying to line-up an entertainment act for a possible performance in the Civic Center May 22, said Adams.
"They don't have anything confirmed yet," said Adams.
Anne Kronenberg, co-chair of the foundation's Harvey Milk Day 2011 Steering Committee, did not respond to the Bay Area Reporter's request for comment this week.
Also that day the Human Rights Campaign, whose action center and store now occupies Milk's old business address, plans to officially celebrate its opening in the location. So far the national LGBT rights group has yet to reveal what its plans are or if it will unveil the Milk-branded merchandise it had said it would be selling at the shop.
HRC spokesman Paul Guequierre did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Equality California, the statewide LGBT advocacy group, is planning a series of Milk Day events in several cities this year. It plans to once again team up with Castro bar Lookout to host a 1970s-themed dance fundraiser and will be asking its members to take part in community volunteer actions that weekend.
A Harvey Milk Day Silicon Valley reception is planned for the following Tuesday, May 24 to be hosted by Microsoft. There will also be a Los Angeles event May 21 with Madison Hildebrand, a gay Realtor on the Bravo show Million Dollar Listing, and a Palm Springs Brunch May 22.
Eric Harrison, EQCA's development director, said this week that exact locations and times were still being finalized.
The annual Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club Dinner will take place Thursday, May 19 this year and will feature keynote speaker Clarence Jones, former adviser and speechwriter to Martin Luther King Jr. Jones is a scholar in residence at the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.
A straight ally, Jones recently contacted the club's leadership asking if he could address its members about fostering a stronger relationship between the African American and LGBT communities, said Milk Co-Chair Stephany Ashley .
"Invitations will be going out the end of this week," said Ashley, who added that ticket information will soon be posted to the club's website.
The Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy will celebrate its namesake Saturday, May 21. The Castro's alternative elementary school is once again hosting its "Hotcakes for Harvey" breakfast fundraiser that morning and will be shutting down a portion of 19th Street to host an outdoor carnival for children and families.
The school is also planning to have an informational fair that day for the LGBT community and educators from around the Bay Area interested in learning more about issues around equity and social justice.
"We will have a stage out again with entertainment," said Christina Velasco, the school's principal. "We will also be putting on a drag show for that event in the evening at the site."
Kathy Amendola, owner of Cruisin' the Castro Walking Tours, plans to donate 50 percent of the proceeds from her 10 a.m. tour that Saturday to the school. Last year she was able to raise $200.
The tour costs $35 for adults and $25 for children ages 5-12 and includes admission to the GLBT History Museum in the Castro. Call (415) 255-1821 to book the tour.
Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings around 10 a.m. for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column profiles former San Francisco resident Torie Osborn, an out lesbian running for an LA-area Assembly seat.
Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes.
Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail mailto:.