Harvey Milk to get Bust at San Francisco City Hall


Three finalists in a competition to design the bust of gay rights activist and “Mayor of Castro Street” Harvey Milk went on display at San Francisco City Hall yesterday. The winning entry will be permanantly displayed in City Hall to honor the former City Supervisor, slain (along with Mayor George Moscone) by his fellow supervisor Dan White in 1978 in that same building.

DesignersBay Area artists Cedric Wentworth (second from right) and Bruce Wolfe (far right) and the team of Eugene Daub, Rob Firmin and Jonah Hendrickson (left). The entries above were designed by Wolfe, Wentworth, and the Daub-Firmin-Hendrickson team, respectively.

While Wentworth’s entry features two masks with a stand-alone bust (“That’s Harvey Milk coming out as being gay in public life and not keeping it secret anymore…The masks represent the theater of politics, but when you see the piece it has a mysterious, shrinelike quality to it.”), the other two highlight Milk’s positive spirit. Wolfe told the SF Chronicle: “In almost everything I looked at, he was smiling, you know, and just looked alive and vulnerable and like the whole world was ahead of him.”

Photographer Daniel Nicoletta, who worked with Milk at his Castro Street camera shop, was pleased to see his friend honored: “To me, creating a place of pilgrimage inside City Hall is exactly the kind of continuation of the Milk legacy that we should be looking at.”

The push to honor Milk with a bust began in 2001. The final statue is to be unveiled in May 2008, on what would have been Milk’s 78th birthday.

Milk Memorial [website]

You may have missed…
Thank God for Harvey Milk [tr]
Vintage Gay Castro Images and Harvey Milk [tr]


  1. Jack says

    I hope they choose the one on the left. It looks hopeful and clean. But they will probably choose the one in the middle because every cheap-looking half-baked shit has to be associated with gay people.

  2. Michael says

    Hmmmm. “Pilgrimage” is a bit over the top.
    Yet, it’s something of a piligrimage, I guess, when I (and I’m sure others) have taken visitors to SF City Hall to see where the murders happened. And, it certainly was a pilgrimage that my late friend Leonard Matlovich and I took to the graves of Oscar Wilde, Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein while in Paris. That experience inspired “Mat,” whom younger Towlies are probably unaware was the first to publicly fight the military exclusion of gays in court, to design his own tombstone without his name but just the inscription, “A Gay Vietnam Veteran” over his famous quote, “When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” Only four years later, he was put to rest beneath it, having lost his final battle, with AIDS, but not before forcing Northwest Airlines to let people with AIDS fly, and being arrested at the Federal Building in SF and in front of the White House while protesting Reagan’s voluntary manslaughter of those infected. (Though still meant to be a mini memorial to all gay veterans that he had fought so hard for, he eventually agreed to have only his last name placed at the foot of a grave cover after reporters heard about the anonymous tombstone.)

    Unlike Pere Lachaise where Wilde, et al., are buried, Congressional Cemetery in DC was an almost totally forgotten graveyard. Mat and I lived nearby at one time, and when he discovered Peter Doyle, Whitman’s most famous companion, was buried there, AND J. Edgar Hoover—next to his longtime companion er roommate Clyde Tolson—the mix of serious association and camp led him to purchase two plots there, the second for the lover he’d hoped to one day have. (Some may have read the shameless claims of a certain man who AFTER Mat’s death convinced Randy Shilts and gullible others that they were lovers. They were not, though this parasite is now buried in the same cemetery and the lie repeated again and again.)

    But back to Milk: before his death, also thinking of Pere Lachaise, Mat led a group of well-known gay activists in an attempt to establish an East Coast memorial to Harvey in Congressional Cemetery. A plot was dedicated in a lovely ceremony but after he and, sometime later, Scott Smith died (Milk’s onetime lover who had donated some of Harvey’s ashes he’d saved and some other memorabilia to be interred), the project languished. Hopefully, someone will take it up again.

    Even though Congressional Cemetery remains off the proverbial beaten path, there is a small ceremony at Mat’s grave every Veteran’s Day, and the “Washington Post” did a story about a rising number of gay veterans who had/have quietly chosen to be buried near my dear friend who, in his Air Force uniform from the cover of “Time” magazine in 1975, proudly proclaimed “I am a homosexual.”


  3. says

    I was at the City Hall event last night and it seemed that the Wolfe bust (with Milk’s tie blowing in the wind) was preferred by most of those present. You mentioned photographer Dan Nicoletta. He is a fine photographer and the foremost authority on Harvey Milk and I am proud to exhibit on my website (http://thecastro.net – which you’ve mentioned here before) a gallery of Nicoletta’s photographs including many of Harvey Milk.

    Uncle Donald
    San Francisco