Breaking: Trevor Project to share Milk's old storefront

  • by Matthew S. Bajko
  • Tuesday January 18, 2011
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The Human Rights Campaign will share the late Supervisor Harvey Milk's old camera store with the Trevor Project, a national organization that runs a hotline for LGBT and questioning youth, HRC officials told the Bay Area Reporter.

The HRC store and action center will open its doors Wednesday, January 19 to the public, but will not have its official opening celebration until closer to Harvey Milk Day, which is May 22 in California and coincides with Milk's birthday.

HRC is offering use of the space rent-free to the Trevor Project and will also donate $10,000 annually to the nonprofit during the duration of its lease at the site. The LGBT rights group is also paying for the build out of the offices in the space where Trevor Project volunteers will be able to man phone lines.

The Trevor Project will not offer direct services out of the space, located at 575 Castro Street. It once housed Milk's old Castro Camera shop and was the location of his campaign headquarters in the 1970s.

When Milk won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, he became the state's and city's first openly gay elected leader. Following his assassination a year later, his old storefront in the city's LGBT neighborhood became an historical site.

News last month that HRC had acquired the lease for the space sparked outrage among Milk's friends and former campaign aides. They criticized HRC as not holding the same political values as Milk did and questioned its marrying itself to the gay rights leader's legacy.

Others praised the announcement, saying that it was better for an LGBT group to be housed in the space than a commercial business with no ties to the community.

Some had called on HRC to work with an LGBT youth provider in the space, as Milk had always been concerned about protecting and advancing the rights of LGBT youth. A Facebook page was launched to urge HRC to strike a deal with Trevor officials.

A lease agreement between the two organizations has been in the works for weeks. It wasn't finalized until late last week.

In a statement released to the B.A.R. prior to its distribution nationwide, HRC President Joe Solmonese stated that his organization is "honored to partner with the Trevor Project in offering this important resource for LGBT youth across the nation from such a historic location. We are so proud of the work of the Trevor Project and I am thrilled to strengthen our relationship with this incredible organization."

Trevor Project Executive Director Charles Robbins added that, "We are grateful to HRC for their generosity and are excited about this partnership. This location, which is being provided to us free of charge, will allow us to invest even more of our precious resources into creating supportive and positive environments for youth."

The store will also benefit the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, an alternative public school nearby, and the GLBT Historical Society, which recently opened a new museum in the Castro on 18th Street. However, HRC officials said they had yet to finalize the terms of the deal with either group.

HRC intends to donate to both the school and the archival group a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Milk-branded merchandise. But when the store opens this week, the Milk items will not be stocked.

"That we are still working through," HRC spokesman Fred Sainz said last Friday when asked what kinds of Milk merchandise, if any, would be for sale.

The new store is expected to have the same hours as its old location at the corner of 19th and Castro streets. It will be open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.