Letters to the Editor
Adding Milk's name is more than an honor
When Harvey Milk first ran for office, there were many who tried to dissuade him. They said that the campaign of an openly gay man would be too divisive, too provocative, and put too many friends of the gay community on the spot.
Milk, of course, ignored the naysayers and trail-blazed a new path toward equality for all of us. He ended up paying for his courage with his life, and that's just one of the reasons we strongly support the proposal to honor his sacrifice by adding his name to San Francisco's airport.
We urge your readers to stop and think for a moment about what it would mean to fly in and out of Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport (Harvey Milk SFO). Not just for us, but for the 40 million national and international travelers who use the airport every year. Eighty airports in our country are named after individuals, but this would be the first ever to be named after an LGBT leader. What a message of hope that would send – across this country and around the world.
Your recent editorial opposing this idea is incorrect ["Flight of Fancy," January 24]. This is not a "flight of fancy" on the part of Supervisor David Campos. In fact, this effort is widely supported by some of our community's most established leaders and organizations, including Equality California, the Human Rights Campaign, the Harvey Milk Foundation, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Supervisor Scott Wiener, and leaders of the Harvey Milk and Alice B Toklas LGBT Democratic clubs.
There's a good reason: adding Milk's name to the airport is more than an "honor" – it is an act that will forward the civil rights agenda for which he sacrificed his life. And it couldn't come at a more important time, as the future of marriage equality is in the hands of a conservative Supreme Court and the gay rights battle is approaching a national moment of truth.
As has been noted elsewhere, adding a name to an airport will always provoke a spirited debate. That is right and appropriate, and we welcome everyone's opinion. What we reject is the notion that disagreement will cause division among the LGBT community and between our community and others. San Francisco has shown time and again that we stand together in the cause of civil rights for all people, and this issue – however it fares – will not shake that solidarity.
It's time to renew Milk's memory, and send his message of hope to millions who deserve to hear it. Please join us in supporting adding his name to San Francisco's gateway.
Tom Ammiano, Member, California Assembly
Bevan Dufty, Former San Francisco Supervisor
Jose Cisneros, Treasurer, City and County of San Francisco
Carole Migden, Former State Senator
Anne Kronenberg, Manager, Harvey Milk for Supervisor Campaign
Remember Milk, don't deify him
As much as we as a community (or communities) are indebted to Harvey Milk, I am not on board with the latest movement to rename SFO in Milk's memory. Over the past few decades, modern historians, particularly progressive historians, have viewed history as much more than "great men" or "great women," and in this development we should all concur. Focusing on one individual as the primary social and political change agent is, frankly, quite conservative, and lends itself to a cult of personality. It was – and remains – our collective movement(s) for political and social change that are the most important. Remember Milk, of course, but don't deify him.
Milk SFO would be a beacon of hope
While I respect the Bay Area Reporter 's history of providing a voice for the LGBTQ community, I wholly disagree with your recent editorial, "Flight of Fancy," condemning efforts to change our airport's name to Harvey Milk San Francisco International Airport.
To say that the efforts of those fighting to make this change are not in the best interest of the LGBTQ community and San Francisco as a whole flies in the face of everything queers have fought for – visibility, equality, and respect.
With a laundry list of both local and national supporters, including the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, Equality California, and the Human Rights Campaign, it is quite clear that this is not the fractious idea within the LGBTQ community that your editorial depicts it to be.
Nearly 40 years ago, detractors within our community used the fear of alienating our "allies" and the threat of damaging our ability to engage with San Franciscans on other issues to try to discourage Harvey Milk from running for office.
We should stop living in the past and look forward to this opportunity to engage with our neighbors in building the kind of coalitions amongst communities of color and labor that Milk himself forged.
This is 2013. President Barack Obama is talking about Stonewall in his Inaugural Address and gay women and men are openly serving in the military. Why should we be diminishing our heritage to avoid ruffling feathers? Milk implored us to come out and make San Francisco a beacon of hope to the entire world. This is a great opportunity to do just that.
Tom Temprano, President
Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
Sidewalk project off to a bad start
In 1974, Harvey Milk created the Castro Village Association consisting of 90 merchants united together serving an estimated 25,000 gays that lived in the Castro.
The sidewalk planning project is a once in a lifetime event for many of us. However, having the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District and the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro in existence going forward is no longer working.
MUMC and the CBD are two organizations that have different purposes, but in reality they are the same. The reality is that they are both serving the customer. The customer keeps them in business. Meeting attendance by the customer is scarce or forbidden and decisions are being made that directly impact lives. When organizational decisions are poor or when there is lack of progress in our community, the customer naturally gives up or goes elsewhere to spend their money and time.
The most recent example of this problem was the rejection of a new Starbucks on Sanchez by CBD but the approval by MUMC. When this happens another restaurant opens on Valencia or an LGBT shopper buys another pair of $100 shoes on Hayes. Most concerning of all this is that gentrification is firmly planting itself in and around our community and streets.
For those of you that have lived in New York City as I have, the once predominately LGBT neighborhoods such as Chelsea and the West Village are already gentrified. Why? Because of money. San Francisco is no different, but we have the power to change this now.
In Milk's vision we need one powerful and united community nonprofit organization called the Castro Village Association with business and community participants. Our village must dissolve MUMC and the CBD.
Our village needs to emerge, preserve, promote, and capitalize on our rich history so that is it not lost in some box. We deserve better than to be a clone of another neighborhood or a model of gentrification.
Already in the upcoming sidewalk project there are no dollars allocated to re-design the embarrassing condition that is Harvey Milk Plaza but dollars to consider making the sidewalks sparkle more. Does this make sense?
Our chance is now to go about this project very differently, not piecemeal but visionary and unified. If we don't, our neighborhood will look just like every other.
In Milk's vision, the Castro Village Association is the first step in the right direction before this project even starts.
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