Bil Browning

HRC to move into Harvey Milk's store

Filed By Bil Browning | December 07, 2010 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Harvey Milk, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, San Francisco

What fresh hell is this? HRC is moving into Harvey Milk's old camera shop in the wal-mart-mona-lisa.jpgCastro? Methinks "insult" is a little too dramatic understated.

In what some grassroots gay activists are calling an "insult," the Human Rights Campaign is about to move into the location of Harvey Milk's old camera store at 575 Castro Street. It will be the new San Francisco "action center" providing information on the work of the HRC and a store offering HRC merchandise.

In a press release, the organization is painting the move as a marriage of two greats in the gay civil rights fight: "We are the beneficiaries of [Milk's] groundbreaking activism and are honored to be part of the future he envisioned," said HRC president Joe Solomonese.

What's next? Removing the Mona Lisa's face and replacing it with the Wal-Mart smiley face? Slapping the Amazon logo on Michelangelo's David statue? Flying the Google flag over Buckingham Palace?

I tend to give HRC the benefit of the doubt more than most other LGBT bloggers, but this is over the top. Harvey Milk's camera shop deserves to be a historical landmark and not a spot to push messenger bags and mousepads emblazoned with the HRC logo or Harvey's face. Harvey fought without the support of the rich bastards who dabbled in politics and urged him not to upset the status quo; he didn't try to sell them water bottles.


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But gee, Bil - HRC has had such success with its policy objectives over the last two years.

Oh...

Wait....

HRC fundraising. That's all.

HRC continuing to screw the LGBT community!

Paige Listerud | December 7, 2010 12:07 PM

I'm envisioning HRC being haunted by the ghost of Harvey Milk. He will visit Joe Solomonese nightly in his dreams, promising great sex if only Joe will switch to a more progressive agenda, focus on coalition building and direct action to achieve results.

Joe will either be transformed or wake up screaming in terror.

Or ... talking in his sleep ... Buffalo Joe will ask Harvey to make a donation -- or at least buy an HRC camera bag.

It would have been great if the Harvey Milk Foundation could have taken the lease on this building and maybe the Bohnett Foundation could have created some kind of cyber center.

I'm not an HRC hater- but I do hate them co-opting his legacy.

" . . . a marriage of two greats in the gay civil rights fight:" Talk about an organization that is so full of themselves. They haven't done anything that would even qualify them to wipe Harvey Milk's butt if he was still alive, much less put themselves on his level.

Hey Joe. I'll reserve a Tea Cup for you at Disney World's Fantasyland. Seems you spend a lot of time their, while drinking your Southern Comfort on the rocks.

This is my favorite part of that press release:

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these items will be donated to local organizations that continue to carry on the legacy of Harvey Milk, such as the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy and the GLBT Historical Society.

A portion of the proceeds will go to orgs that actually do stuff. Even yogurt companies donate a percentage of profits to charity, so it's interesting that that's the bar now for nonprofit corporations.

Great point. The LGBT-advocacy industry is more concerned with the existence than our equality.

We should withhold all donations to these major organizations until they have a strategy to win, not just make a living. I would gladly pay for results.

Joe's reply:

"You gotta give 'em rope"

An HRC is rge rope with which the LGB(T) community has hanged itself.

Great point. The LGBT-advocacy industry is more concerned with the existence than our equality.

Did you just now come to that realization?

spamming people's inboxes every other day begging for money for non-existent "work" must not be bringing in enough cash.

The crap they sell at that HRC store is the merchandising equivalent to the HRC's commitment to real activism. No doubt they'll try and get Solmonese's name added to the plaque commemorating Castro Camera.

Perhaps they will upscale their range of merchandise ... imagine, they could sell Dolce-Gabbana suits and have life-size photos of Buffalo Joe modelling them.

True HRC is pure evil, but "Harvey" was not much better. People tend to forget that he, like the HRC, was a moderate, pro-business gay white man that wanted to "clean up" the Castro and the rest of the city. So i think it is quite fitting....

In the past, I was disappointed in the HRC because they priced too many people out of their Black-Tie Events. However, like many, they have learned from their mistakes. I like the idea that a well know gay rights organization will be operating OUT of 575 Castro. It's better than another franchise store, or bar. I knew Harvey, and used to develop my film there. It was like a small town's general store without the potbelly stove. People came in to pet Harvey's dog, talk politics or just watch the never ending supply of good looking guys pass Harvey's camera shop front windows. I used to display my photos near today's Harvey Milk Plaza in a bakery shop window. My iconic image of Harvey is part of the dedicated plaques at Market and Castro.
I am confident, that the HRC will bring back the great feelings that came into and out of Harvey's store. I am hoping that a few of my images will grace the large mural, that the HRC are planning at 575 Castro Street.

Granted, it's obvious that everyone loves to hate HRC. I was more turned off by the salary structure for the top dogs than by how vanilla milk toast their efforts on behalf of equal rights for LGBTs. Plus, all of their events are too expensive for me to attend.

That being said, I would rather HRC moved down from their corner to Harvey's camera shop than have another non-gay-owned chain store move into the space. The Castro St. commercial rents are so high that most gay mom & mom stores are being pushed out or folding with the exception of bars.

It is also obvious that some in the hood will complain about anything. Walgreens is donating space for a permanent home for the LGBT Historical Society next door to their tiny HIV/AIDS drugstore on 18th. Street. Walgreens is taking a part of the area to expand the pharmacy. The space from which they now serve the HIV/AIDS community was the size of a broom closet. BUT, bad bad Walgreens! They are taking area from the store that they are paying for & donating the use of to the LGBT Historical Society that did "not" move into the Milk camera store.

I dropped my HRC membership a couple years ago, but would rather have HRC in Milk's shop than Banana Republic or Taco Bell. There is no other LGBT group like GLAAD or NGLTF, or any others stepping forward to occupy the empty storefront.

Maybe, someone should push Nancy Pelosi to designate the store a national monument or site. There are plenty LGBT activists who could make that one of their goals. She is the Castro's rep in the House. Where was everyone in the gay community while the store was sitting empty & no one wanted to rent it?

I volunteer across the street from the store, and direct tourists to it regularly. I just point & tell them that it is the empty store behind the big tree next to "Hand Job", a manicure shop. They give me a quizzical look & mutter "empty?".

Billy Pollina | December 7, 2010 4:42 PM

Why isn't this building or space, designated a historical landmark?

There is already a plaque outside the shop. I agree with the commenters above that at least it is a gay group moving in as a tenant. the trend for a long time in the Castro has been a loss of gay businesses, replaced by national chains or other non-local businesses.