Got Milk? The Human Rights Campaign In San Francisco Definitely Has
It was as we were in San Francisco the week before last, strolling the Castro, chuckling at the names of places like Rock Hard the shop, the Sausage Factory restaurant and Hand Job (the nail salon) that we got ourselves a little jolt of history.
At 575 Castro Street (next to Hand Job, in fact) is the center for the Human Rights Campaign of San Francisco. It also happens to be the former premises of Castro Camera, the shop belonging to Harvey Milk.
Milk, of course, was assassinated in 1978, having being elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors as America’s first openly gay man in public office.
The HRC center has a little bit of everything – from striking campaign stats by the front door of state by state views of same-sex marriage, adoption, and housing laws, and a timeline of gay rights in San Francisco, to various items of clothing and souvenirs of San Francisco – all to a jaunty soundtrack of Madonna.
But the most interesting bit is tucked away behind some t-shirts by the till: a mini exhibit on the life of Harvey Milk. It includes a short, seven-minute film that links footage of the store to a tape that Milk made, containing a speech to be made public in the event of his assassination, calling on the gay rights movement to take hope from his death and spur the movement on.
Eight days after he recorded the tape, Milk was assassinated.
For movie/Sean Penn-philes, the property at 575 Castro Street was also used as the set for Gus Van Sant’s film, Milk.
Photos: Julia Buckley for Jaunted