Offended by Milk letter

  • Wednesday August 9, 2017
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Offended by Milk letter

Offended by Milk letter

As a native San Franciscan and gay man who knew and campaigned for Harvey Milk, I am greatly offended by the vile letter of Allen Jones [Mailstrom, August 3].

Milk was the Martin Luther King Jr. of gay liberation.

Before Milk, no openly LGBT person had ever been elected to office in San Francisco. Queers were lucky to have a seat or two on the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee.

Consensual gay sex was a crime in those days (until Willie Brown used his legislative smarts to get 19th century sodomy laws repealed).

In the 1960s and 1970s homophobia was widespread even in "liberal" San Francisco. When I was in junior high, high school, and Boy Scouts in those years, I was regularly harassed and bullied by other kids who perceived I was gay �" even though I was in self-denial.

Teachers and Scout leaders would tell us that racial discrimination was bad, but would tell me that bullying and harassment I suffered was "my fault."

Milk changed all this �" by living life and running for office as an openly gay man. He caused LGBT people to come out, and straight folks to accept us.

Milk deserves the honor that King has obtained.

As for Jones' criticism of Milk for supporting the Reverend Jim Jones, look at history before Guyana and Jonestown: Jones was a shrewd political operator who supplied vast numbers of volunteers to liberal campaigns and causes. Pre-Guyana, Jones managed to obtain support of many other liberal leaders �" including SF's greatest political genius, Brown.

I believe that both ex-mayor Brown and Milk need to be honored by the city for their great contributions to human rights, even if they were once conned into defense of Jones.

By the way, I didn't support Supervisor Hillary Ronen in the last election, but I agree with her on this issue, because she is right.


Arlo Hale Smith

San Francisco


Look to history for gay heroes

Thank you, Allen Jones. We should look at gay history before we start to name so many things after one person. I was a bartender in San Francisco during the 1950s and very aware of the history of the gay movement. Many of my friends, as well as myself, worked our asses off to get where we are today. Long before Harvey Milk, we were arrested and treated like crap by both the city officials and the police department. It was against the law to be gay and to congregate. We were always looking over our shoulder.

I have a feeling [former supervisor] David Campos should look more at the history before he tries to name so many things after one person. There were many that have since left us that were so responsible for what we have today. Oliver Sipple was my friend, and I was so proud of him being at the right place at the right time. We need to look at history and then make judgments on just who should be considered a hero. Milk did good but he was not alone.


James Robinson

San Francisco


Appreciated ballet review

San Francisco has a world-class ballet company and kudos to the Bay Area Reporter for having a world-class writer on your team ["Ballet pictures of social harmony," August 3].

Paul Parish's review of the San Francisco Ballet at Stern Grove is much appreciated by the many fans who could not attend. It will be read widely.


Burl Willes

Berkeley, California