Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The show must go on... and it will!

San Diego State University’s critically acclaimed production of Dear Harvey has been chosen to participate in the

Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival

The SDSU School of Theatre, Television, and Film’s stunning presentation of Dear Harvey has been selected to participate in the Southwest Regional Finals for the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival being held in St. George, Utah in early February. If the show does well in Utah, the production will move to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in April!

The SDSU production was written by SDSU Alum Patricia Loughrey with music composed for the play by SDSU student Thomas Hodges. After its successful run at Diversionary Theatre, the show played to sold- out, standing ovation crowds during its run at SDSU.

We now look to our friends to help us fund raise to get the show to Utah. Only $457 will completely underwrite an actor’s expense for the entire week of the festival. This includes hotel, registration fees, acting workshops, transportation, and a few meals. If you would like to help us send this production to Utah, please call Jay Sheehan at 619-594-4990 or email him at JSheehan@mail.sdsu.edu.

Thanks to everyone at Diversionary Theatre for their ongoing support of this project!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We're taking the show on the road!

... for one night only!

If you missed Dear Harvey at San Diego State, you still have a chance to see the show. This Thursday, October 8, SDSU will take Dear Harvey on the road to the San Diego School of Creative and Peforming Arts. The show starts at 7 PM in the Florence Johnson Grand Theatre, and is absolutely free!

2425 Dusk Dr
San Diego, CA 92139-2412

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Time is running out!

You only have three more chances to see Dear Harvey!

Wednesday 9/30
Thursday 10/1
Friday 10/2
at 8 PM

On Wednesday, be sure to stay after the show to watch the hilarious new comedy, Accidentally Phylla! It's only 20 minutes, it will make you laugh until you cry, and it's FREE with the price of you ticket to Dear Harvey!

On Thursday, stay for a few minutes after the show to ask questions of the cast and production staff.

Remember... THIS Friday is closing night so buy your tickets now and mark your calendars!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sneak Peak

Zwink Photography took some lovely photos of Dear Harvey. Here are just few!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Program Note from the Dramaturgs

In 2008, when San Diego State Alum Patricia Loughrey began developing Dear Harvey with SDSU undergraduate Thomas Hodges, many people had never heard of Harvey Milk. Important gay and lesbian figures are rarely mentioned among the great leaders and civil rights activists children learn about in school. As the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States, Harvey Milk gave hope to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer community that they could live their lives openly and with pride. By bringing together diverse community members, Harvey successfully fought discrimination and improved his city during his eleven months in office. Dear Harvey is a story of an American hero, told through the words of people whose lives he continues to inspire.

In the 1970s, gays and lesbians won important battles in the fight for equal rights; it seemed the movement was gaining momentum. Harvey Milk was sworn in as a city supervisor, gay rights ordinances were passed in several cities, including the ordinance signed in San Francisco by Mayor George Moscone, and Proposition 6, a proposal to terminate the employment of all gay and lesbian teachers in California, was defeated. The assassination of Harvey Milk and George Moscone on November 27, 1978, devastated the LGBTQ community. Not only had they lost two great leaders, but many felt that their deaths represented the symbolic death of the gay rights movement.

Over the last 30 years, due in no small part to the work of dedicated activists, the United States has become a better place to live for members of the LGBTQ community. However, there continue to be setbacks, such as the passage of Proposition 8 last November. Instead of feeling discouraged, Harvey Milk often saw the positive side of such situations. For example, he saw Proposition 6 as a catalyst to energize and motivate the gay community to fight for change. Harvey believed that progress would be made through dialogue – his televised debates with John Briggs likely changed many minds. He would have seen Proposition 8 as both a motivator for action and an opportunity for education.

If Harvey were here today, his message of hope would be the same. He would encourage all of us to come out, not only gays and lesbians to their families, friends, and coworkers, but everyone else as friends, family, and supporters of the LGBTQ community.

Dear Harvey is a celebration of the life of Harvey Milk, the contributions of LGBTQ leaders, and the continuation of the fight for equal rights for all. In the words of Patricia Loughrey, "Dear Harvey is not a story that was – it is a story that is."

By Lauren Beck, Tawnya Pataky, and Derek Smith

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Patricia Loughrey and Thomas Hodges on KUSI

Last April when Dear Harvey premiered at Diversionary, playwright Patricia Loughrey and composer Thomas Hodges, both appeared on KUSI. Click here to watch the interview.

...And we are all Peter Cirino.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dear Audience...

Now is the time to start thinking about when you would like to see Dear Harvey. With only 7 performances, time and space are limited. Here are some things to think about...

On opening night, Thursday 9/24, there will be a post show discussion panel entitled "Activism Then and Now: Where Do We Go From Here?" with long-time activist, Nicole Murray Ramirez (who is a character in the play), SDSU student activist Thomas Hodges (who wrote the music for Dear Harvey), and the playwright, Patricia Loughrey.

There will be another post show discussion with the entire cast, director, and dramaturg on the following Thursday, 10/1.

Immediately following the performances on Saturday 9/26, Sunday 9/27, and Wednesday 9/30
New Voices, an SDSU student theatre group, will present the comedy, Accidentally Phylla or 'Tis Pity She's a Man, written and directed by Derek Smith and Megan Stogner. Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to Dear Harvey.
Dear Harvey will open in the Experimental Theatre at SDSU on Thursday September 24 at 8 p.m. and will close October 2 at 8 p.m. Evening performances are on September 24, 25, 26, 30 and October 1, 2 at 8 p.m. with a matinee performance on September 27 at 2 p.m. Tickets and information are online; you may wish to visit the Performing Arts Box Office Monday through Thursday between 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. or call the Box Office direct at (619) 594-6884. For group discounts call (619) 594-6365 or email OnStageSDSU@sdsu.edu.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Brief Look at San Diego LGBTQ History

I realize that this timeline doesn't look "brief." But it WILL when you see the full timeline at the Lambda Archives!

1917. An ordinance is passed that prohibits sexual activity within the city limits of San Diego, except between husband and wife.

1920s & 1930s. Visitors to Alpine find Julian Eltinge, a respected actor and one of the world’s most renowned female impersonators.

1968. Lesbian enlisted person, Diann Pierce, declares her homosexuality to Navy officials in San Diego and is dishonorably discharged. After lengthy court proceedings, Pierce’s discharge is upgraded to honorable due to her excellent Naval record.

1970. The Women’s Studies Department is founded at San Diego State College. It is thought to be the first such department in U.S. academia.

1971. Gay Liberation Front, founded at San Diego State College, pickets the San Diego Police Department to protest police harassment of gays. It is one of the first organized public gay demonstrations in San Diego.

1974. Two hundred men and women march through downtown San Diego to publicly proclaim they are gay. This is the beginning of the San Diego Pride Parade.

1979. On August 23, Assistant Chief of Police Bob Burgreen announces that San Diego will hire qualified gay and lesbian persons as officers.

Al Best runs for San Diego City Council as the first openly gay candidate for elected office in San Diego. He finishes fifth out of eleven.

First-year SDSU professor Bonnie Zimmerman teaches an experimental class in the Department of Women’s Studies on "Lesbian Life and Literature."

1983. Blood Sisters is founded by the San Diego Democratic Club. The donations of blood create credits for blood to be given to people with AIDS. Nearly 200 lesbians give blood in response to news that gay men are no longer allowed to donate.

1987. The Archives is founded in December to “preserve and teach our history.” It is later renamed Lambda Archives.

1988. As part of its nationwide tour, the Names Project’s AIDS Memorial Quilt comes to San Diego on April 12 and is visited by thousands at Golden Hall.

1990. Frank Buttino, an FBI agent in San Diego for 20 years, has his security clearance revoked in May and is fired for being gay. The Bureau refuses to consider his exemplary record and fires him citing “exploitable sexual conduct.”

Police officer John Graham comes out to the press in October. A highly respected officer, Graham says he felt it was important to come out so that gay men and lesbians could see that they could become successful police officers.

1991. After the murder of John Wear in Hillcrest, The Citizen’s Patrol is founded to protect gays and lesbians from violent acts.

1992. After he comes out publicly as a gay man, El Cajon police officer Chuck Merino is notified by the local council of the Boy Scouts that he is no longer welcome in its program because he does not meet their “high standards for membership.”

Despite a show of opposition, the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education approves a policy prohibiting discrimination against both employees and students based on sexual orientation.

1993. One hundred demonstrators march in Balboa Park on July 4th to protest the ban on gays in the military. Some march in uniform; some wear paper bags over their heads to conceal their identities.

Seventy lesbian and gay couples are joined in a Celebration of Commitment ceremony in Balboa Park on October 11, National Coming Out Day.

1994. The city of San Diego extends domestic partner benefits to all city employees.

A teacher at Oak Park Elementary School reprimanded and then transferred after she explained to her class that gay students do not deserve to be the victims of physical violence.

1997. San Diego Pride for the first time attracts more than 100,000 spectators and makes the front page of the Union-Tribune.

1998. San Diego's 1966 Cross-dressing Law that made it illegal to dress in the clothing of the opposite sex is repealed with a 7-1 vote. The one dissenter, George Stevens, says, "The issue to me is deception. It is a very dangerous thing to cross-dress."

1999. A homophobic observer at the Pride Parade hurls a tear-gas canister at the Family Pride contingent in the parade and then escapes into the crowd.

2000. Openly lesbian Christine Kehoe and Toni Atkins win elections. Kehoe moves to the State assembly and Atkins replaces her as Third District Councilperson.

2001. Bonnie Dumanis is elected District Attorney for San Diego County and becomes the first openly gay or lesbian district attorney ever elected in the United States.

The Union-Tribune publishes its first same-sex anniversary announcement in its “Celebrations” section recognizing the silver anniversary of David Rea and Harry Sillen, the owners of David’s Coffee House in Hillcrest.

2003. Guadalupe Benitez is denied fertility treatments by the North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group of Vista because she is a lesbian.

2004. The San Diego LGBT Community Wall of Honor is the nation’s only LGBT community memorial display dedicated to honoring and remembering important local LGBT community members.

2005. Mayor Steve Padilla of Chula Vista comes out publicly as a gay man.

2008. Former Marine Sgt. Bob Lehman and City Commissioner Tom Felkner make history as the first same sex couple to get married in San Diego on June 17th.

2007. "Pride Night" is declared at Petco Park as part of the festivities for Pride Week. Despite protestors gathered outside, "Pride Night" attendance is near capacity. The Padres beat the Braves 8-5.

San Diego Pride honors John Dapper and Lyman Hallowell who celebrate their 63rd anniversary, and Donna Phillips and Gladys Langsford who celebrate their 45th.

On November 15, tens of thousands of people take to the streets across America in protest of the passing of Proposition 8 in California. The largest march takes place in San Diego with an estimated 15,000 participants.

2009. A noisy five-hour sit-in at the county clerk’s office is launched when a gay couple is denied a marriage license.

The first Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast attracts a thousand people on Friday, May 22.

For more information on LGBTQ history, including more San Diego history, visit http://lambdaarchives.org.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Chararcter Research: Robin Tyler

Robin Tyler is a stand-up comic and a gay activist who has been working in both fields since the 1960s. Tyler was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on April 8, 1942. In 1972 she moved to Toronto, and later New York City, where she performed stand-up comedy.In 1978, Tyler became the first out lesbian on U.S. national television on a Showtime comedy special, and released her comedy album, Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Groom. Some of Tyler's humor relied on "pro-gay" jokes to counteract the propensity of anti-gay humor. Tyler explains her first attempt at pro-gay humor: "I got up and did this joke about running into a right-wing guy and he said 'I think they should take all you queers and put you on an island someplace.' And I said 'They did, darling, and they call it Manhattan.'" Tyler continued to create jokes in which gays and lesbians were the subject of the humor instead of the object. Since that time, Tyler has used her comedy for the benefit of the gay rights movement. Tyler's humor is edgy and political. One of her most famous jokes answers the question of whether homosexuality is a disease. "If homosexuality is a disease," Tyler says, "let's all call in queer to work: 'Hello. Can't work today, still queer.'"

Tyler has has worked as a national event organizer since 1979 when she organized the first March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights which drew over 100,000 demonstrators to the Washington D.C. Since that time she has organized other marches, lesbian music festivals, and has fought for gay marriage rights. On February 12, 2004, Tyler and her partner, Diane Olson, the granddaughter of a former governor of California, filed the first lawsuit for marriage equality in the state of California. After gay marriage became legal, Tyler and Olson were the first same-sex couple to be married in Los Angeles. Tyler is executive direcgtor of the Equality Campaign and is working to make gay marriage legal again.

In the new version of her show, Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Groom, Tyler says, “We want marriage equality, that’s the front of the bus. The Democrats want us to have civil unions, or domestic partnership. That’s the back of the bus. The Republicans want us off the bus. And the radical religious right wants us under the bus.”

Click here to read Robin Robin Tyler's blog posts on huffingpost.com.

Robin Tyler speaks in Fresno at Meet in the Middle.

Robin Tyler on MSNBC

Robin Tyler works the crowd at the Resolution Action Fair.

Robin Tyler and her wife, Diane Olson, in a NO on 8 television spot


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Harvey Milk: A Timeline

May 22, 1930. Harvey Bernard Milk is born in Woodmere, New York.

1943-1947. Harvey attends Bay Shore High School. He is a basketball player, a linebacker on the football team, and is popular with everyone because of his quick wit and sense of humor. He knows he is gay, but is in the closet. Living so close to Fire Island and New York City, Harvey finds many opportunities to meet other gay young men.

1947-1951. Harvey attends New York State Teachers College at Albany and earns a degree in Mathematics. No one suspects him of being gay. He is described as a “man’s man.”

1951-1955. Harvey serves in the Navy and is an expert deep sea diver on the San Diego-based U.S.S. Kittiwake. He is honorably discharged. Loving a good story, Harvey never contradicts the rumor that emerged during his campaign – that he was dishonorably discharged (like so many others) for being gay.

1956. Milk meets Joe Campbell, a beautiful younger man, whom Harvey courts with love letters. They will be together for six years – Harvey’s longest relationship. Joe Campbell is later immortalized as the “Sugar Plum Fairy” in Lou Reed’s song “Walk on the Wild Side.”

1957-1961. While Joe stays at home as a typical “housewife,” Harvey works as a high school math teacher and basketball coach at Hewlitt High School in New York. When he tires of teaching, he becomes an actuary.

1962. Harvey stops seeing Craig Rodwell, a man he is dating, when he realizes Craig is involved with fighting for gay rights. Harvey prefers to live a peaceful, closeted life.

1963. Harvey begins working in a Wall Street investment firm. His math skills, his quick thinking, and his ability to visualize and predict social trends, enable Harvey’s success. He settles into a new short-lived “marriage” with Jack McKinley, a stage manager for Hair.

1970. After nearly a decade of living with the influence of young hippies, Harvey is fired from his job in finance when he refuses to cut his long hair and burns his BankAmericacard. Craig Rodwell hardly recognizes his formerly conservative friend.

1972. Harvey and his new boyfriend, Scott Smith, move to the Castro in San Francisco. The neighborhood has been a gay mecca for less than a decade.

March 1973. Harvey opens Castro Camera with Scott. The store becomes a place that people go for help. Cleve Jones says, Harvey “was just always helping people, fixing problems.”

1973. Harvey helps the Teamsters union with their Coors boycott, convincing all Castro bar owners to remove the beer – in exchange for jobs for gay deliverymen.

November 1973. Angry about the way San Francisco is seemingly controlled by real estate moguls and huge corporations, Harvey runs for supervisor for the first time. He is not backed by most of the gay political clubs and organizations that think that Harvey wants too much, too soon. He loses.

1974. Harvey organizes the Castro Village Association of local merchants, and helps launch the first Castro Street Fair.

November 8, 1977. Milk is elected to the Board of Supervisors for District 5 in his fourth run for elected office. He is the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States. Harvey insists on being sworn in the steps of City Hall surrounded by his supporters (including a new boyfriend, Jack Lira) who march from the Castro for the event.

June 25, 1978. Harvey rides in the Gay Freedom Day Parade, urging bystanders and television viewers to come out to their families, friends, and coworkers. Harvey himself never comes out to his parents.

May 21, 1978. The day before his 48th birthday, Harvey dresses up like a clown as part of a promotional publicity campaign for Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. He runs all over town telling people he’s an elected official.

March 7, 1978. Harvey serves as Deputy Mayor for a day. Art Agnos (a future mayor of San Francisco) tells Harvey he has the potential to be mayor within ten years.

April 1978. George Moscone signs the San Francisco Gay Civil Rights Ordinance – a bill that Harvey introduced.

November 7, 1978. Proposition 6, which would have authorized the firing of gay teachers and their supporters, is defeated due in part to Harvey’s diligent campaign against it.

November 10, 1978. Dan White, Harvey’s fellow supervisor, resigns, claiming that he cannot support his family on his salary. He later asks for his job back, but is refused.

November 27, 1978. Dan White assassinates Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone at City Hall. That night, more than 30,000 people peacefully march from the Castro to City Hall and hold a candlelight vigil.

December 2, 1978. Milk’s friends scatter his ashes, along with Kool-Ade and bubble bath, into the Pacific Ocean.

May 21, 1979. Dan White is convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison. Thousands of furious people converge upon City Hall, throw rocks, break windows, and set police cars on fire. Later that evening, several police cruisers filled with officers wearing riot gear arrive at the Elephant Walk Bar on Castro Street, storm into the bar and beat patrons at random. These incidents become known as the White Night Riots.

1982. The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, by Randy Shilts is published.

January 7, 1984. Dan White is released from prison – after serving just five years – and moves back to San Francisco with his family.

March 25, 1985. The Times of Harvey Milk wins the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Director Rob Epstein thanks his partner in his speech.

October 21, 1985. Dan White commits suicide in his garage.

June 14, 1999. Time Magazine names Harvey Milk one of the “Time 100 Heroes and Icons” of the 20th century.

May 22, 2008. On what would have been his 78th birthday, a sculpture of Milk is unveiled in the Ceremonial Rotunda of City Hall – where wedding ceremonies are held.

September 30, 2008. California State Assemblyman Mark Leno’s bill to mark Harvey Milk’s birthday, May 22, as a state day of special significance, which has been passed by the State Assembly and State Senate, is vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

February 22, 2009. After being nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the film Milk, directed by Gus Van Sant, wins Best Original Screenplay (Dustin Lance Black) and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sean Penn).

2009. The ACLU steps in when a Ramona 6th grader, Natalie Jones, is barred from giving a presentation on Harvey Milk. The principal and district superintendant later apologize and allow Natalie to present her report.

Monday, September 7, 2009

November 27, 1978

The following videos include media coverage the day that Harvey Milk and George Moscone were shot.

The media announces the breaking news story - Mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk are shot.

NBC NEWS November 27, 1978

Sunday, August 30, 2009

...and there was DISCO!

Grab those bomber jackets and grow out thoose mustaches, because we are all going to rock the disco! Alan Pettit (Shane Blackburn) allows his audience to step onto the dance floor at the I-Beam, one of SF's top night clubs located in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. If we're all out on the dance floor then we better know how to shake that groove thang appropriately. Here are a few videos to open your eyes to what you might see heating up the disco. Burn, baby, burn!

Shock Theatre at Les Fern's Dance Studio

Ben Stiller in Starsky&Hutch

Saturday Night Fever: the MUSICAL!!!!!

Watch. Practice. Learn. Dominate the DISCO.

Proposition 6

Propostion 6 is more commonly referred to as the Briggs Initiative because it was the conservative state legislator John Briggs who passionately followed the lead of Florida's Anita Bryant; both Bryant and Briggs felt that homosexuals should be banned from working within the school system for fear that it was encourage children to "be gay". No on 6 was a campaign lead by Gwen Craig and Bill Krause who had been appointed by Milk (SF Supervisor) and Ammiano (teacher). Contrary to popular belief (based off the film Milk), Harvey Milk would assist in the campaigning against 6 and hold debates against Briggs, but he handed over the power to Craig and Krause. The best tool used by the campaign was the encouragement of gays and lesbians to come out to family and friends, which rippled outside of California and spread over the rest of the nation. The No on 6 slogan? "Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!" and that was exactly what happened. A poll had been taken at the beginning of September that year and 61% of the voters were for proposition 6 while only 31% were against; by the end of the month there was the largest shift of votes in the history of politics, morphing into 45% planning on voting YES, 43% voting NO, and 31% were now undecided. Support against the Briggs Initiative started pouring in from multiple politicians, including President Carter and Ronald Reagan, the former Govenor of California at the time who was just beginning his election process for President.

When the votes were finally placed and counted, 58.4% had voted NO while only 41.6% voted YES (all others were invalid).

...to be continued...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Character Research: Harvey Milk

Attention Actors: The following videos demonstrate Harvey Milk's vocal and/or gestural qualities. Please view these videos in order to channel your own Harvey in the show! And be sure to watch the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk.

Harvey being interviewed on TV

The Hope Speech

The Last Words of Harvey Milk

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Character Research: Christine Kehoe

Christine Kehoe is a popular San Diego politician and a long time activist for civil rights. In 1980 she was San Diego County's chair for the campaign to defeat the Lyndon LaRouche AIDS discrimination initiative, and she was an early director of the AIDS Assistance Fund, which grew into the San Diego AIDS Foundation. In 1984 Kehoe became editor of the award-winning San Diego Gayzette newspaper. Kehoe became the first openly gay elected official in San Diego in 1993 when she was elected to represent the 3rd district in the city council. While on the City Council, Kehoe worked to strengthen public schools, improve safety in neighborhoods, and provide city employees with domestic partnership benefits. She left the City Council in 2000 when she was elected to the California State Assembly, representing district 76. Kehoe now serves on the California State Senate representing the 39th district, which includes: City Heights, Del Mar, Encanto, Hillcrest, La Jolla, Lemon Grove, Mira Mesa, Mission Beach, Mission Valley, Normal Heights, North Park, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, and others. As a State Senetor, Kehoe champions civil rights and environmental concerns. She also serves on the California Legislative LGBT Caucus with Tom Ammiano, John Perez, and Mark Leno.

Kehoe talks about the San Diego Pride that almost wasn't

Kehoe speaks at a press conference

Kehoe speaks to protesters at Equality California's protest to proposed cuts by Governor Schwarzenegger to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs

SD LGBTQ History in 8 Minutes

This brief, eight-minute look at the history of the Pride movement in San Diego includes the Gay Liberation Front, Anita Bryant, John Briggs, Lambda Pride, and others.

For more on LGBTQ history, visit San Diego Lambda Archives.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tawnya's Tweets

For Twitter fans:
Assistant Dramaturg Tawnya Pataky is diligently tweeting away about Dear Harvey. To catch a wacky peek into the rehearsal process, click here and follow Dear Harvey on Twitter.

For Non-Twitter fans:
Time to BECOME a fan! Sign up now so you don't miss another one of Tawnya's quirky Tweets!
(Tawnya enthusiastically promoting Dear Harvey at the 2009 Pride Festival)

Character Research: Tom Ammiano

Tom Ammiano was born in 1941 in Montclair New Jersey. As a school teacher in the 1970s, Ammiano was one of the primary organizers against Prop 6, which would have removed all gay, lesbian, and gay and lesbian friendly teachers from schools. In 1980, Ammiano became a stand-up comedian and also began running for the San Francisco Board of Education. He finally was elected in 1990 and became the Board president in 1994 when he was reelected. As president of the Board, Ammiano implemented gay and lesbian sensitivity curriculum for grades K-12. In 1994, Ammiano was also elected the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, representing District 9 - the Mission District, Bernal Heights and Portola neighborhoods. While Supervisor, Ammiano was successful in creating a health care ordinance, a domestic partnership ordinance, and more. Ammiano currently represents the 13th District in the California State Assembly. He also serves on the California Legislative LGBT Caucus, the first such caucus in the United States.

Ammiano discussing his bill, Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act

Ammiano giving an impassioned speech at a No on 8 Rally

Ammiano speaks to a crowd at "A Day Without a Gay" in San Francisco

For more footage of Tom Ammiano, borrow or rent The Times of Harvey Milk. The documentary and the bonus DVD from the 20th Anniversary Edition contain interviews from the 1980s as well as more recent interviews.

Essay by Tom Ammiano for Out and Elected in the USA

"After being an out gay teacher for many years, I ran for and won a seat on the Board of Education. My lover of 18 years, Tim Curbo, was also a teacher in the San Francisco school district. He taught Spanish bilingual education for combined kindergarten, first and second grade class. Tim had a real vocation, not just a job. He was widely loved and respected. He shared our relationship with his students, keeping a photo of me on his desk along with other members of his family.

When he was diagnosed with HIV, he initiated an age appropriate HIV/AIDS education program for the entire school. It became a model for the district. When he died a few years later, his memorial was held in the schoolyard and more than 500 teachers, students, parents and friends attended. The most moving testimonial was by a third grader who said he was grateful to have had Tim as a teacher and to know he was gay"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A List of Resources

I have begun a list of books and films about Harvey Milk and LGBTQ history that I have seen/read and liked. The list includes the easiest (and cheapest) ways to access these resources for San Diego State students.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Character Research: Stuart Milk

Stuart Milk was only 17 when his uncle, Harvey Milk, was assassinated. Although Stuart never came out to Harvey, he did share with his uncle that he felt different from others. Harvey praised that difference and encouraged Stuart to always be himself.

Stuart Milk is Vice President at Arbor Education and Training, a company that provides job-related education, counseling, and assistance. He is also a gay rights activist and the official spokesperson for the Milk family.

On August 12, 2009, Stuart Milk accepted his uncle's Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.
Here are two of the many videos available of Stuart Milk on YouTube.

Christina Marie interviews Stuart Milk on SF Live TV.

Stuart Milk speaking at a rally at the Florida Capitol Campus.

Harvey Milk Day

In February, out State Senator Mark Leno introduced SB 572 - a bill that would require the Governor of California to proclaim May 22 of each year (Harvey Milk's birthday) as a day of special significance. According to the fact sheet, the bill would "allow schools to conduct activities that would foster respect for all, and educate students about an important figure who is often omitted from history lessons."
A similar bill was vetoed last year by Governor Schwarzenegger after it passed in the State Assembly and State Senate. According to Equality California, a group that is backing the bill, The Governor’s Secretary of Education recently sent a letter opposing the bill stating that the Governor's previous veto sends a message that "Harvey Milk's contributions should continue to be recognized at the local level by those who were most impacted by his contributions. Since this bill is nearly identical, the veto message remains applicable."

To express support for Bill SB 572 - Harvey Milk Day:
  • Sign the online petition at the Equality California website.
  • Call the Governor's San Diego Office at 619-525-4641.
  • Call the automated line and choose the Harvey Milk Day bill. 916-445-2841

Sen. Leno on creating Harvey Milk Day

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Better Know A Congressman

Jared Polis is the first openly gay person to be elected to the United States House of Representatives. Polis, who now lives in Colorado and is congressman for District 2, is a former resident of San Diego and attended La Jolla Country Day School. Watch this segment of Stephen Colbert's "Better Know a District" to see Polis banter bravely with Colbert.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Even Better-er Know a District - Colorado's 2nd - Jared Polis
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Protests

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Character Research: Nicole Murray Ramirez

Nicole Murray Ramirez is a gay activist, a San Diego city commissioner and the author of a weekly article in the Gay and Lesbian Times, "Conversations With Nicole." Ramirez marched in the first pride parade in San Diego in 1974, and served as grand marshal in Tijuana's first pride parade in 1994. The honors Ramirez has received and positions he has held include: chair of the Chief of Police Advisory Board, the first San Diegan elected to chair the board for Equality of California, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Diego Latino Coalition, and the Caesar Chavez Humanitarian Award. Ramirez's drag persona is Nicole the Great.

Nicole Murray Ramirez talks about Anita Bryant's effect on the gay rights movement.

Nicole Murray Ramirez - Obama and Civil Rights

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Character Research: Toni Atkins

In 2000, after serving as council representative and policy analyst to Councilmember Christine Kehoe, Toni Atkins was elected to the city council when Kehoe was elected to the state legislature. Atkins was reelected in March 2004. In 2005, after Mayor Dick Murphy resigned, Toni Atkins was chosen to be deputy mayor until the next election, becoming the first lesbian mayor of San Diego. She served until 2008 when Jerry Sanders was elected. Atkins is running for California State Assembly in 2010 for the 76th district in San Diego.

Toni Atkins Speaks for Marriage Equality on the Eve of Justice.

An awkward argument between Toni Atkins and Mike Aguirre.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Elaine Noble: A Pioneer in Public Service

Although Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States he was not the first openly gay person to be elected.

In 1974, Elaine Noble ran for a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for the Fenway and Back Bay neighborhood district of Boston. She won with 59 percent of the vote, becoming the first openly gay person elected to public office. In 1976, she was reelected with 90 percent of the vote.

To read a more detailed biography of Elaine Noble, visit the online GLBTQ encyclopedia.

To read two short interviews with Elaine Noble detailing her successes in the House as well as the difficulties she faced, including harrassment and threats, visit MetroWeekly and OUThistory.org

Friday, August 14, 2009

Character Research: John Laird

John Laird served as one of the only openly gay mayors in the country from 1983-1984 and then again from 1987-1988 in Santa Cruz. He then became one of the two first gay men (along with Mark Leno) on the California State Legislature when he served as a Assemblyman for District 27 from 2002-2008.

In the following video (after a brief bio) Laird gives a speech in tribute to parents at the Queer Youth Leadership Awards.

Laird speaks at Love and Marriage Rally in Sacramento on February 16, 2009.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Lambda Archives: Preserving LGBT History

The Lambda Archives (formerly the Lesbian and Gay Archives) of San Diego was created in 1987 with the goal of collecting, preserving, and teaching the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the San Diego and Northern Baja California region.

LASD contain
  • Records and personal papers of local LGBT activists, organizations and political campaigns
  • Virtually all San Diego and Tijuana (and some significant regional or national) LGBT periodicals, most of which are not available elsewhere
  • Newsletters for more than 40 local LGBT organizations
  • Video and tape interviews, LGBT music, educational films, and footage of numerous Pride parades.
  • Ephemera such as flyers, announcements, bumper stickers, buttons, calendars, catalogues, flyers, posters, and t-shirts,
  • Thousands of photographs and slides
  • Digital materials and records
  • Over 2000 books (which members can check out)
Visit The Lambda Archives website to view timelines of LGBT History, useful websites, the LASD biannual newsletter, and information on hours, materials, membership, and volunteering.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Milk: A Pictorial History of Harvey Milk

by Dustin Lance Black (Introduction),
Armistead Maupin (Foreword)
New Market Press, New York, 2009.

This new book (published just this year) is an excellent resource that can be consumed in one sitting. While The Mayor of Castro Street provides hundreds of pages of details on Harvey Milk and the gay movement, Milk: A Pictorial History of Harvey Milk provides brief summaries, short quotations, and a wealth of large, detailed photographs.

Part I, "The History," gives a short overview of Harvey Milk's early life before moving on to cover his campaigns for supervisor, the fight against Prop 6, and life on Castro street in the 1970s.

Part II, "The Movie," discusses the making of the film, Milk. Original photographs side by side with film stills show the historical accuracy (at least visually) of the film. Interviews with the screenwriter, set dresser, costume designer, and others illuminates the dedication of everyone involved in the film. You'll want to rewatch the film after reading this book.

At the time of this post, this book is not available through the San Diego public libraries or the SDSU library. It is available, however, through the Circuit. The book is sold online at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Half.com, and Ebay.com.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Harvey Milk to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom | San Francisco Examiner

By: DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press, July 30, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 people, including gay rights activist Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978.

The White House announced the list of recipients Thursday.

The medals, representing the nation's highest honor for a civilian, are the first to be awarded by Obama. He will present them at a White House ceremony on Aug. 12.

Shared via AddThis

Start watching the following video at the 26 minute mark to see Stuart Milk accept Harvey Milk's medal from President Obama.

Boogie Nights Blog

Last night my roommate Megan and I sat down for my first viewing of the epic cinematic adventure that is Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights.” I fell in love with this movie, in case you were still wondering.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, it is a story about people who work in the adult film industry in the 1970’s. Even for those who don’t wish to watch a movie of that particular subject matter, no one can deny that this is, at least, a fantastic period piece worth watching.
Mr. Anderson, who wrote and directed the film, does a dazzling job of representing the sexual revolution as such an important time in history. He shows the wide sexual attitudes that our society once possessed and also touches upon the gay community in the Seventies and the sudden emergence of men and women living open lives as members of the LGBT community.
During the movie I had a train of thought that made me press pause. I realized that these characters were the people who would eventually grow into their Thirties and Forties in the Eighties and Nineties.
It reminded me of every time anyone in the gay community, who lived through that era, talks about experiencing friends and lovers "dropping like flies" around them during the AIDS epidemic.
These people, who are living in an era of such unquestioned sexual promiscuity and drug use will, without warning, fear death and change their lifestyle immediately in order to survive. These are also people who would eventually grow angrier and angrier, questioningRonald Reagan, who ignored the virus for seven years.
The whole very idea of living through a shock resulting in an abrupt cultural u-turn has to be devastating. All the while, attending funerals three or four times a month for friends who had died of a “gay disease” that had taken over cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.
When I pictured San Francisco in the 80’s, I immediately thought of Cleve Jones. I think this cultural attitude change may be one of the reasons why Cleve Jones began his activism for HIV/AIDS research. He lived the dramatic cultural change in San Francisco, just two years after Harvey died.
Many believe that Harvey Milk could have gone on to be a large political influence on HIV/AIDS Research and Awareness. The truth is that after assisting on Harvey’s campaigns for four years, Cleve went on to do just that himself. He continued Harvey’s legacy of leading the LGBT civil rights fight in San Francisco, but instead of working alongside Harvey, working towards fighting AIDS.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Before and After Stonewall

Most Americans have a sizable gap in their historical knowledge when it comes to the history of gays and lesbians in the United States. Before Stonewall (1984) and its sequel After Stonewall (1999) each clock in at about 90 minutes, but this cumulative three hours provides viewers with a wealth of information about the triumphs and tragedies of gays and lesbians over a span of 80 years, and serves as a quick start to further research.Before Stonewall is not only a powerful documentary, but also a priceless historical artifact. The film is rich with interviews of those who were gay and lesbian adults as far back as the 1920s. Many of the the men and women who tell the stories of visiting speakeasies in the 20s and serving in WWII in the 40s are not alive today, 25 years after the film was made. The film describes a time when gays and lesbians were closeted and invisible and just beginning to find each other and themselves. Although, the U.S. still has far to go in granting equal rights to gay and lesbian citizens, it is heartening to see how far the country has come due to the brave struggles of those in the early 20th century.After Stonewall, continues the story where Before Stonewall left off - at the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The interviewees tell the story of the great leaps forward in the gay movement, such as electing openly gay officials to public office and repealing anti-gay laws. But they also describe the heartbreak of the massive setbacks, such as the growth of the religious right and AIDS.

Both films are entertaining, educational, and incredibly moving. They are available in VHS format at the San Diego Public Library. Check the website for locations: http://www.sandiego.gov/public-library/. As a Netflix subscriber, I watched the films instantly online (in bed, on my laptop!) The DVD and VHS can also be purchased new and used from Amazon.com.

Monday, June 22, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The Mayor of Castro Street

Not only does Randy Shilts’ biography of Harvey Milk shed light on all aspects of his life, but also reveals miniscule encounters and facts that combined, create a beautiful, well-crafted story.
Though widely classified as a biography, there is a lot more to be found in this epic battle for civil rights. This book does not read like other biographies. There is something about the style that brings you into a wonderfully poetic and elaborate story of good and evil. Maybe it’s the incredibly detailed and well-researched complexity of city politics, which gives intention to Harvey's decisions and political style, or maybe it’s the heart breaking severity of Milk’s struggle to make a difference in the world. Either way, there is something in this book for every reader.
There is another reason why many readers who tend to steer away from biographical works should invest some time in Mayor of Castro Street. Mr. Shilts includes events, in his book,that took place far before and after Milk’s life, which ultimately opens the view of homosexuality’s place in our society over the past two hundred years.
While this book is one of the most famous pieces of non-fiction gay literature, it is also one of the most debated. Many gay historical figures (even some that happen to be depicted in the book, including Cleve Jones) disagree with many statements made in Shilts’ book, as well as actions made within the author’s personal life.
Though many do disagree, most scholars and historians will testify to Mayor of Castro Street being the most accurate and detailed account of modern gay history.

Upcoming Events

Attention Cast: Three events are coming up that you may want to attend!

JUNE 23: S.A.M.E. (San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality) is hosting an Activist Town Hall Forum titled: 'Where Do We Go From Here In The LGBTQIQAA Activist Movement?' at The LGBT Center - 3909 Centre St.
from 6:30PM - 9:00PM. The Key Note Speakers will be ROBIN TYLER (a character in Dear Harvey played by Crystal Brandon) and DIANE OLSON. Dear Harvey will have a table set up to distribute information about the show.

From 11:00 AM to noon, San Diego State University students, faculty and staff will join local politicians, business leaders and other members of the community in hosting a Rainbow Flag Raising Ceremony on campus in support of SDSU's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, staff, faculty and community. We will be handing out Dear Harvey flyers, encouraging people to come to the show.

JULY 18:
The cast of Dear Harvey has been invited to march in the San Diego Gay Pride Parade with the SDSU LGBT community. We will be handing out business cards and carrying signs in the parade and participating at the Diversionary booth to promote the play.

All cast members are encouraged to attend any of these events. Please contact Producer Jay Sheehan at
jsheehan@mail.sdsu.edu or Dramaturg Lauren Beck at lbeck79@gmail.com for more information.

See you there!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Free Speech scores a point!

Natalie Jones, the Ramona 6th grader who was barred by her school from giving a presentation about Harvey Milk, was allowed to present today to her class! The school claimed that they were "overly cautious" after the ACLU threatened to take action. Read the whole story here.

Giving a presentation about a gay person is not the same is giving a presentation about SEX.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Thirsty for Milk after some Twinkies?.....

Twinkie Defense.

What is it? Thirty years ago anyone in California would be able to answer that question without thinking, but now society's knowledge on Harvey Milk's death is minimized to what is fed through the film MILK. Here is an article describing what specifically the Twinkie Defense is and why such an absurdly titled event led to the production of violence now referred to as the 'White Night Riots'.

Myth of the 'Twinkie defense' (as written by Carol Pogash of the San Francisco Cronicle, November 23, 2003) :

Ask anyone who's heard of Dan White -- and there are fewer and fewer people who have -- how it was that the clean-cut, conservative San Francisco supervisor received such a light sentence in the shooting deaths of progressive San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and gay Supervisor Harvey Milk 25 years ago, and it brings an automatic response: the "Twinkie defense." The impressionable jury, they'll say, swallowed the defense contention that Dan White gobbled Twinkies, which blasted sugar through his arteries and drove him into a murderous frenzy. About as simple as: "Eat a Twinkie, commit a murder."

As Thursday's 25th anniversary of the killings approaches, what survives is a shared understanding of the gross miscarriage of justice: that an angry young man many thought should have received the death penalty instead was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and got a meager sentence of less than eight years (with time off for good behavior, he would end up serving only five years, one month and nine days).

The "Twinkie defense" is so ingrained in our culture that it appears in law dictionaries, in sociology textbooks, in college exams and in more than 2, 800 references on Google. Only a few of them call it what it is: a myth.

"I don't think Twinkies were ever mentioned in testimony," said chief defense attorney Douglas Schmidt, who recalls "HoHos and Ding Dongs," but no Twinkies. In fact, the cream-filled confections were mentioned, but only in passing. Junk food was an insignificant part of the defense. The matter was raised briefly in testimony by Marin psychiatrist Martin Blinder, one of five defense therapists. Today, the entire episode is characterized by Schmidt as "a throwaway witness . . . with a throwaway line.''

The main focus of the defense's case in May 1979 was diminished capacity -- that White had suffered from periodic bouts of depression, amounting to "a major mental illness." That, along with "the machinations of dirty politics at City Hall," White's co-counsel Stephen Scherr said in a recent interview, "drove him 'round the bend."

During his day on the stand, Blinder, a former mayor of San Anselmo and a onetime teacher at UCSF's medical school and at Hastings College of the Law, characterized White as his family's black sheep, a man with rigid values and locked-up emotions. In a recent interview, Blinder said his intent was to explore, "What is it that makes a good man kill?"

In his daylong accounting of how White's life "unraveled," one small aspect of something Blinder said -- "two minutes of a greater part of the day on the stand" -- was later turned into the irrational explanation for everything that came after. "Studies show," he said recently, "that if you have a general predisposition to bipolar mood swings, things you ingest can play a part." In the days leading up to the killings, the psychiatrist told the jury, White cast aside his normal habits and grew slovenly, quit working, shunned his wife, grew a stubble beard and rather than eat his healthful diet, indulged in Twinkies and Coke -- all symptoms, Blinder testified, of depression. The junk food, he said, only made White more depressed, which caused him to binge even more.

A 1979 San Francisco Examiner story on the anatomy of the White defense, written by Jim Wood, my late husband, cited the makeup of the conservative, mostly female jury, many with children the age of defendant (there were no gays and no African Americans). Wood pointed out that the defense had not challenged the facts, but had put on a psychiatric defense for the former cop and firefighter. White, the defense claimed, had acted in the heat of passion, not out of malice. In his depressive state, he had "snapped."

The gay community's agony spewed out onto the streets of San Francisco. During what came to be called the White Night riot, protestors set fire to police cars and stormed City Hall. The violence was in marked contrast to the day Moscone and Milk died. Then, a candlelight march flowed quietly and peacefully from the Castro district to City Hall.

All that many people remember about the case that still engenders such anger and passion is that jurors succumbed to the defense claim that a politician ate Twinkies and then executed the mayor and a fellow supervisor.

"America loves labels," said Dr. Alan Dundes, UC Berkeley professor of anthropology and folklore. He compares our belief in the "Twinkie defense" to the conviction that George Washington cut down the cherry tree. He didn't. Folklore trumps history.

"I don't care if the 'Twinkie defense' has any validity or not," he said. "People think it was a factor. And thinking makes it so."

Friday, May 29, 2009

A short article to kick off your summer reading list

Last week, in honor of Harvey Milk's birthday (also known as "Harvey Milk Day" in San Diego) the Gay and Lesbian Times ran a story about Harvey that includes interviews with Dear Harvey playwright Patty Loughrey and the real life people that appear in the play. (Actors, you may recognize some of your lines!) Read the article here!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No More Mrs. Nice Gay!

"No civil rights movement has EVER lost. Never. It is not a matter of if our community will win full equal rights, including marriage. It is only a matter of when. But as in all civil rights movements, we will have to fight like hell for it." - Robin Tyler
Robin Tyler and her wife, Diane Olson

Quote from DayofDecision.com
Photo from PeaceLoveLunges

The fight isn't over

Californians who believe in equal rights were dealt a blow today when the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8. Thankfully, couples who wed before the election will continue to be married under state law. But the fight isn't over! Meet at Balboa Park today at 5 to march and rally. We WILL get this hateful proposition overturned!

View the Facebook page.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Harvey Milk’s legacy honored at local event: San Diego News Network

San Diego | Harvey Milk’s legacy honored at local event | San Diego News Network

"Megan Hogan - like the late, gay activist Harvey Milk, who was honored in San Diego at a diversity breakfast Friday - knows the value of building strong coalitions and inspiring others.

Despite taunts from classmates and objections from parents, the 18-year-old high school senior started the Diversity Club and Gay-Straight Alliance in January at Del Mar’s Winston School, a college-prep school for students with learning disabilities. The goal: to unite students from different backgrounds to underscore the importance of embracing one another’s differences."

Click here to read more.

Posted using ShareThis