I just had some customers from Key West; a forty something gay couple. We started talking about sexual politics and how much attitudes have changed in our lifetime. There’s still beaucoup homophobia but now that more people have come out, there are many more pro-gay straights. Straight is a funny term, actually, I don’t define myself by who I lust after but our society is sex obsessed so that’s all she wrote. I dunno who she is but, apparently, she’s literate…
Anyway, I told these customers my favorite Harvey Milk story, one that popped back into my head only recently. I’m not even sure if Dr. A has heard this one. Harvey Milk owned a camera shop on Castro Street for many years. I was dating a woman who lived in the Castro and was a camera geek. (She also lived with two vegan dykes and a tranny who had a rhesus monkey but that’s another story.) She shopped at Harvey’s store because they were so damn nice and helpful to one and all. I didn’t know shit about cameras so Harvey enjoyed teasing me about my ignorance. One day I mock complained and he said: “If you dish it out, and you do, you gotta be able to take it.” Yeah you right, Harvey. Smart ass solidarity forever.
Harvey ran unsuccessfully for office several times before winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. During one of his campaigns, I was at a rally and Harvey launched into one of his campaign (and shop) set pieces about how every gay person in the closet should come out. Harvey, quite correctly, maintained that it would be harder for people to be bigoted if someone they knew and/or loved was openly gay. Harvey was a prophet. At this particular rally when he finished that part of his peoration he pointed at me and said: “That guy is a good example. He’s at this rally and he’s straight and planning to vote for me.”
Even as a youngish man I couldn’t resist a straight line (pun intended) and shouted out: “Planning and voting aren’t the same thing.” Harvey laughed at this mild attempt at humor and blew me a kiss.
Harvey was not only a great man, he was a helluva nice guy. And that’s my Harvey Milk story. Class dismissed.