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News Briefs: SF, Oakland to observe Harvey Milk Day

by compiled by Cynthia Laird

Harvey Milk prepares to speak following the Gay Freedom<br>Day Parade in San Francisco in June 1978. Photo: Crawford Barton/courtesy GLBT<br>Historical Society.
Harvey Milk prepares to speak following the Gay Freedom
Day Parade in San Francisco in June 1978. Photo: Crawford Barton/courtesy GLBT
Historical Society.  

The eighth annual observance of Harvey Milk Day will include several activities in San Francisco.

Milk was the first openly gay man elected to office in California when he won his campaign for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He was assassinated a year later – in November 1978 – by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White.

In 2009, gay then-state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill in the Legislature making May 22, Milk's birthday, a statewide day of special significance. Signed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the day is an unpaid state holiday.

On Sunday, May 21, the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District will hold its observance at 1 p.m. at Harvey Milk Plaza, located at Castro and Market streets. CBD Executive Director Andrea Aiello said that speakers will include Leno, now a mayoral candidate, gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, and gay City College trustee Raphael Mandelman. Last month Mandelman announced he was running against Sheehy in next June's primary.

The afternoon will open with music from the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. Following the officials' remarks, people will march down to the Human Rights Campaign's Action Center and store, 575 Castro Street, which is where Milk's old camera shop was located.

Additionally, Aiello said that the Muni streetcar named after Milk will be parked at Jane Warner Plaza for people to explore.

On Monday, May 22, the GLBT History Museum, 4127 18th Street, will honor Harvey Milk Day by offering free admission to all visitors. The museum will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The exhibit "Queer Past Becomes Present" in the museum's main gallery includes historical objects on display such as the bullhorn Milk used to lead many protest marches and the suit he was wearing at the moment he was murdered. Visitors can also hear Milk's voice in the political will he recorded when he was serving on the Board of Supervisors.

Finally, on May 22 the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club will offer two screenings of "The Times of Harvey Milk" at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street.

Milk club Co-President Kimberly Alvarenga said that the first showing, at 1 p.m. (doors open at noon) focuses on youth and senior engagement and is free for youth and seniors. It is open to the general public. There will be a casual reception with co-hosts Openhouse and the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, or LYRIC.

The evening program will include speakers from the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project and several short films they have created for the event. A VIP reception begins at 6 p.m., with the screenings at 7. The emcee is drag king and San Francisco Pride community grand marshal Alex U. Inn.

General admission tickets are $15; tickets for the VIP reception are $40. Other ticket levels are also available at

Also on May 22, Club 21 in Oakland will be holding the northern California regionals of the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic LGBTQ bartending competition.

The event takes place from 8 to 11 p.m. at Club 21, 2111 Franklin Street.

Milk's gay nephew, Stuart Milk, of the Harvey Milk Foundation, is scheduled to be on hand.

Admission is free and guests who RSVP at, will be eligible for complimentary Stoli cocktails and other prizes.

The bartending winner from northern California will go on to compete against the finalists from other regional contests during the grand finale at Key West Pride in June.


'Live in the Castro' kicks off Saturday

The aforementioned Castro CBD will kick off this year's "Live in the Castro" music and performance series Saturday, May 20 from noon to 3 p.m. at Jane Warner Plaza, Castro and Market streets.

Mistress of ceremonies Donna Sachet (also the Bay Area Reporter's society columnist) will welcome attendees. Performers include Gregangelo and the Volocity Circus, Kippy Marks on violin, and the Flaggers.

For a complete schedule of the free entertainment throughout the summer, visit

The CBD will also be launching a "little free library" in the plaza next week.


Grayson elder confab Saturday

The sixth annual Howard Grayson LGBT Elder Life Conference will take place Saturday, May 20 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Cadillac Hotel, 380 Eddy Street (at Leavenworth).

Conference organizer Sue Englander said that this year's conference responds to the "avalanche of hazards to ourselves and the broader community" stemming from the Trump administration.

"These perils target specific segments of the Bay Area population but, in the end, affect us all: immigrants, people of color, free speech advocates, home owners, stewards of the environment, city government and nonprofit funding, the arts, education, Medicare and Affordable Care Act recipients, and the LGBT/elderly community," Englander said in a news release.

Speakers will include gay former Supervisor Harry Britt and Joey Cain, a Radical Faerie and Haight Ashbury neighborhood activist. They will address what political organizing was like in the early years of the LGBT movement and how those experiences can inform the response to the current administration.

Another panel will present the role of arts and performance as a vital part of the LGBT movement and will feature singer Blackberri and comedian Karen Ripley. Michelle Meow, president of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee and a broadcaster, will moderate.

The conference is named after Grayson, a gay black man who was a longtime member of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and a labor activist. He died alone in a hospital in 2011, and none of his family or friends were informed. His death underscored the challenges of aging in the LGBT community and the club organized the conference in his memory.

Englander said that the conference is dedicated to the victims of last year's shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

There is no cost to attend. For more information, visit the Facebook page at


Development versus preservation series

The GLBT Historical Society's "Fighting Back" series exploring contemporary queer community issues in a historical context will look at development and preserving LGBTQ sites Tuesday, May 23 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the GLBT History Museum, 4127 18th Street in San Francisco.

The conversation will feature panelists from recent and past preservation battles in San Francisco's LGBTQ community.

Admission is free for historical society members and $5 for non-members.


City celebrates Jewish Heritage Month

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Hillary Ronen will celebrate Jewish Heritage Month with a reception Wednesday, May 24 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

A news release stated that San Francisco's Jewish community has made countless contributions to the city's cultural heritage, civic fortitude, and economic growth and that the program will commemorate these historical ties.

The Jewish Community Relations Council and Jewish Community Federation and Endowment are co-sponsors of the event.

An RSVP is required; to sign up, visit





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