Invoking Harvey Milk during San Francisco Pride 2009

Duboce Park, toward the Recreation Center. 2007 photo by Nathan Yergler

Gay Pride celebrations in the U.S. are an annual commemoration of the Stonewall Riots that took place on June 28, 1969 in New York City. Furthermore, organizers and participants also frequently incorporate references to other historical events as part of Pride. This is true once again for San Francisco Pride 2009, following the ruling on May 26 by the California State Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8, a ballot measure outlawing same-sex marriages. References to former San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk are especially prominent during the 2009 San Francisco Pride season, in part due to the depiction of Milk’s role in the 1978 defeat of another anti-gay ballot measure, Prop 6 (which would have barred openly gay and lesbian people from serving in California public schools) in the recent film Milk. Inside Pride, the official program guide to the 2009 celebration, includes articles foregrounding the strategies used by Harvey Milk (and depicted in the film) to defeat Prop 6 as pointing to new possibilities for a future overturning of Prop 8. Similarly, other efforts to highlight Milk’s political legacy have figured during the 2009 Pride season around the Castro neighborhood, including an unveiling of Robert Silvers’ new portrait of Milk, the unveiling of Susan Schwartzenberg and Michael Davis’ new installation at the Harvey Milk Arts Center in Duboce Park, and the ongoing exhibit of the GLBT Historical Society, Passionate Struggle, which includes a focus on Milk’s political career and displays the suit he wore when he was assassinated in 1978.

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