SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The nation’s largest gay rights group announced Tuesday that it plans to share the San Francisco storefront where Harvey Milk waged his historic political campaign with a nonprofit that provides suicide prevention services for gay youth.
The deal is aimed at quelling a tempest over the slain gay rights leader’s old stomping grounds.
The Human Rights Campaign said it would donate $10,000 a year and space inside the site of Milk’s old Castro Camera to The Trevor Project, which plans to run a crisis hotline there. The deal will continue for as long as the Washington, D.C.-based organization leases the store.
“We are honored to partner with The Trevor Project in offering this important resource for LGBT youth across the nation from such a historic location,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said.
Milk became the first openly gay man to win political office in a major U.S. city when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.
In the more than three decades since he was assassinated at City Hall along with Mayor George Moscone, the building also has housed a clothing store, a beauty supply shop and a housewares emporium.
Underscoring the tensions within various factions of the gay rights movement, some of Milk’s friends and admirers had complained last month when the Human Rights Campaign announced it was opening a gift shop and information center at the retail site where Milk worked during the 1970s.
They said the organization’s philosophy of incremental progress ran counter to Milk’s uncompromising message of gay pride. AIDS Memorial Quilt founder Cleve Jones, who campaigned for and worked with Milk, said last month that an organization serving gay youth would be a more fitting to Milk’s memory. Jones applauded the agreement HRC struck with The Trevor Project.
“It is wonderful that Harvey’s message of hope will again emanate from the site of Castro Camera,” he said. “He spoke often of our responsibility to our young people and experienced firsthand the pain of losing loved ones to suicide…. I think he’d approve.”
HRC plans to stock the store with clothing and household items bearing its logo, as well as merchandize carrying Milk’s words and image. Solmonese said a portion of the proceeds will go to a local elementary school named in Milk’s honor and the GLBT Historical Society.