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). 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

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,,, and