Page 119 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                 99
                If eyewitness truth be sorted, the hyper-zealous Milk was considered
             rather a jokey camp on cool Castro Street where he was liked okay as a
             sexual immigrant, but not well liked as a political carpetbagger, because
             he was Manhattanizing laid-back San Francisco. He wasn’t particularly
             cool. He was a New Yorker telling “The City That Knows How” what to
             do in his “Milk Forum” column in the Bay Area Reporter. In the 1970s,
             Manhattanization was a very bad word. He was elected because he was
             gay, not because he was “Harvey Milk.” It was not personal. The 1970s
             was a period of rapid population growth in California, the Bay Area, and
             San Francisco. The horde of new gay immigrants, five minutes or five
             months in the City, knowing little of local San Francisco politics, voted on
             one issue in the way campus towns fear the temporary student population
             will turn out to change local laws and then leave the town holding the
             bag. Beyond even Harvey’s control, he was swept up in a symbolic role in
             ritual politics. The convergence of his times, not his life, propelled him.
             His latter-day sainthood came through a martyrdom that could have hap-
             pened to anyone playing the role of gay supervisor. It was his bad fortune
             that “Tonight the role of gay supervisor will be played by Harvey Milk.”
             Even in death, the urban-legend jokes continued: the mourning crowd on
             the party boat, spreading his ashes at sea, deciding instead to snort lines
             of Harvey.
                There are other instances of eyewitness events no other historian
             has mentioned: on Sunday, August 18, 1974, at the first Castro Street
             Fair — exactly at the corner of 18  and Castro — a gunman who had
                                        th
             opened fire on the huge crowd was shot dead at my feet by a San Francisco
             cop as reported the next day when David Sparrow and I appeared in the
             right half of the tragic “death photo” on the front page of the August 19,
             1974, San Francisco Chronicle.
                Reporter Kevin Wallace wrote:


                    A shotgun blast from a crowded sidewalk . . . . Police Officer
                Arnold Strite [rushing with gun drawn and knocking David and
                me down], finding two shopkeepers trying to grapple with the
                man with the shotgun, shoved his revolver against the young
                man’s rib cage and told him to drop the shotgun. Instead, a
                second shotgun discharge ripped into the nearby pavement,
                sending ricocheting pellets into the shoulders of two women in
                the surrounding crowd — and Police Officer Arnold Strite fired
                his .357 Magnum. ©San Francisco Chronicle
                Ironically, Harvey Milk had invented that first street fair because he
             wanted to register 20,000 gay voters. Instead, suddenly, like a foreshadow-

           ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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