Cleve Jones | Harvey Milk | Human Rights Campaign | News | San Francisco

HRC Rationale on Milk Shop Takeover: Each Tourist Who Buys a T-Shirt or Tote Bag is a 'Potential Activist'


The AP has begun reporting on the anger over the Human Rights Campaigns plans to use Harvey Milk's old camera shop at 575 Castro as a boutique to sell its wares, though they claim it will also serve as an "action center," whatever that means.

Cleve The AP: "Milk's friends and admirers are so incensed at the group taking over the slain San Francisco supervisor's stomping grounds that they would rather see a Starbucks there, underscoring the tensions that exist within the various factions of the gay rights movement. The organization is a frequent target of criticism from gay rights activists who consider its mainstream, 'Would Harveyinside the Beltway' style ineffective. They believe the organization's philosophy of incremental progress in the gay rights movement runs completely counter to the uncompromising message of gay pride championed by Milk."

Said Cleve Jones to the AP: "[Milk] was not an 'A-Gay' and had no desire to be an A-Gay. He despised those people and they despised him. That, to me, is the crowd HRC represents. Don't try to wrap yourself up in Harvey Milk's mantle and pretend you are one of us."

HRC begs to differ:

"HRC creative director Don Kiser understands the concerns and says he is open to suggestions, but thinks the criticism is overstated. The group obtains about one-third of the new names on its mailing lists from visitors to its retail stores in San Francisco, Provincetown, Mass., and Washington. Each tourist who goes in to buy a Harvey Milk T-shirt or an HRC tote bag is a potential activist, Kiser says."

Watch a local news report on the controversy featuring Jones and Kiser, AFTER THE JUMP...

HRC's Planned Rental of Harvey Milk Camera Shop Strikes a Nerve [tr]

(via queerty)

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  1. For HRC, "potential activist" really means potential donor.

    I have such contempt for HRC. I saw Solomonese at a bar in DC the other weekend just laughing it up. I wanted to go over and pour my drink over his head.

    Posted by: B-rod | Dec 14, 2010 9:58:20 AM

  2. Democrats, Gays... When will we realize that all of this infighting over petty differences and internal class warfare is antithetical to overcoming the united bigotry of our ACTUAL opponents?

    Posted by: Matt in NYC | Dec 14, 2010 10:08:41 AM

  3. "petty differences and internal class warfare"

    What the hell are you talking about?

    Posted by: gaylib | Dec 14, 2010 10:16:27 AM

  4. HRC should not even be mentioned in the same breath as Harvey Milk. Harvey's memory and work are sullied by even being mentioned in the same sentence as the HRC.
    He was an activist, advocate and role model.
    HRC throws cocktail fundraisers for well connected A list queers and A-list wannabees. None have had an original thought in decades but they dress up well and are good window dressing for BHO and the limousine liberal crowd-

    Posted by: nick | Dec 14, 2010 10:24:10 AM

  5. HRC is about as useful as Obama.

    When it comes to donating money - just say no to both.

    Posted by: justiceontherocks | Dec 14, 2010 10:28:50 AM

  6. "Each tourist who goes in to buy a Harvey Milk T-shirt or an HRC tote bag is a potential activist, Kiser says."

    Yeah. And each gay that goes in to buy an HRC tchotchke is a potential idiot.

    This isn't about petty differences and internal class warfare. This is about not contributing to an ineffective organization, where your dollars are LITERALLY being poured into cocktails. Still sucking the President's cock while he repeatedly punches you in the face? That doesn't seem like a particularly healthy relationship to me.

    Posted by: Joseph L | Dec 14, 2010 10:31:14 AM

  7. Fu*k HRC.... bunch of useless socialite queens. We have no use for them

    Posted by: Dandy | Dec 14, 2010 10:38:34 AM

  8. My god HRC makes my head explode!

    Who gives money to these charlatans? How do they continue to exist?

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Dec 14, 2010 10:51:48 AM

  9. Every friend is a friend. HRC is a friend of the gay community.

    Attacking each other is what the Right Wingers want.

    The attacks on the HRC have been juiced up by Right Wing Gays. And the rest are taking the bait to hate this much.

    That said I have stopped financially supporting them since 2004 when they force Margaret Cho to drop out of an HRC Kerry fundraiser out of FEAR of what the GOP / FOX NEWS would say.

    Still to turn on them this way is pathetic.

    Posted by: Tony X | Dec 14, 2010 11:03:39 AM

  10. My husband and I dropped our support this year. The organization has become ineffective and now is diluting its federal focus by trying to muscle in on state organizations like Empire State Pride Agenda. They need to stick to their original focus as a federal lobbying organization. They need to stop focusing on useless celebrities like Reichen Lemkuhl and get back to political action. Where is Elizabeth Birch when you need her. Solmonese needs to be replaced ... he's too much focused on hanging out with Hollywood types and promoting himself rather than our cause.

    Posted by: Jay | Dec 14, 2010 11:16:24 AM

  11. @Matt in NYC, you're exactly right, the people working toward gay rights have enemies and they aren't the people working to advance gay rights in different ways. We can disagree on strategy but surely we can agree that infighting distracts from the real fight we should be engaged in. BOTH sides need to grow up. Whatever happened to the concept of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"? HRC and Harvey Milk want/ wanted to advance gay rights, while on the other side we have politicians who won't even denounce the "kill the gays" bill the "C Street" crowd gives illicit support to. If you don't know who we should be fighting with you're blind and dumb. (here's a hint, it's not with each other)

    Posted by: wesley | Dec 14, 2010 11:22:03 AM

  12. The Human Rights Campaign is the largest single gay civil right organization in America and our single greatest champion. Even for those who are critics of HRC, it seems that having a great civil rights non-profit in Milk's old store is much preferable to have a retail business (every other business in that spot has had nothing to do with gay civil rights).

    Posted by: Dean | Dec 14, 2010 11:30:29 AM

  13. Are these HRC bitches for real.

    They sound like Rethugs after 9/11 who were saying that to spend money was patriotic.

    And from the looks of this thread, it seems as if a Batsignal went out.

    Look, I actually don't have a problem with HRC renting the space out, my problem is what they intend to do with the space.

    Were they to turn the camera shop into, say, a museum of some sort or a real "action center" then I wouldn't have much of a problem with this.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Dec 14, 2010 11:37:39 AM

  14. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but from my naive and very possibly clueless perspective this looks a lot like two factions of monks fighting over who gets to keep the bones of a dead saint in its monastery.

    Posted by: Micah | Dec 14, 2010 11:57:08 AM

  15. LGBT'ers need new representation and a game change (lobbying is important when it works...but is by no means the most important component), as the HRC has proven ineffective. It's both those who are in critical decision making positions and the underlying strategy and organization of the apparatus which enables and encourages such failed decisions to be implemented. That is the final account.

    The way to target such a change isn't to retool the existing institution and switch a few players, but to eradicate and start new, as the problem is, again, systemic not local (even the brand is toxic). This will be achieved through redirecting donations and diminishing membership as a byproduct of continued negative criticism and push for transparency of ineptitude and financials. Guessing, they survive now due largely to the donations of older gays/lesbians and allies who aren't aware of the myriad problems that neutralize the effectiveness they expect their donations to bring about. This will take time abetted by HRC's PR machine and the beliefs of an older generation who subscribed to this strategy. This isn't a personal judgment about individuals associated with or employed by the HRC (I'm sure a lot of nice people are...blah blah blah), but an assessment based near exclusively on results, and their conspicuous absence.

    In corporate, if you don't meet your explicit goals for a given period of time (fiscal year or quarter, or more/less), you are either fired or severely reprimanded...or at least you should be, goddamnit! No such accountability occurs in the activist and non profit sector (boards are often hand picked by executive directors, and their job security is not tied to legislative success or those on whose behalf that they claim to represent), and it's disturbing. This is said knowing that many of the so-called "activists" criticizing the site of HRC's most recent PR debaucle are fame whores who are more interested in promoting themselves than civil equality. That is another serious problem within the activist group and non-profit sector that can be explained with rcrse to the disparity in income to private industry, and motivations for getting involved.

    Posted by: TANK | Dec 14, 2010 12:22:59 PM

  16. grow up, people. HRC is one of my least favorite LGBT advocacy organizations but at least they are trying (albeit ineptly) to promote equality. if they were smart, they would create a hybrid LGBT advocacy museum/shop in this storefront. but, usually, they aren't that smart...

    As for all the class-resentment and bashing about their black tie dinners (which are not my taste), lose it. It makes you look petty, bitter, and small. Let them do their thing and get your asses over to the Central Valley and talk with people who are ignorant about us and the need for equality. stop bitching and do the work...

    Posted by: JoeInSF | Dec 14, 2010 12:24:14 PM

  17. It is sad to see these silly objections to a good placement for an HRC shop in the Castro. Does any of these obstructionists have any basis to believe that Harvey would have a problem with HRC? (Of course not.... they use his name in vain.)

    HRC belongs in this space more than most any other business or organization. Cleve and others, please find a real battle to fight and stop trying to make our own supporting organizations look worse than they deserve!

    HRC belongs in the Castro (I live there, too), and they are an ideal fit for this space. NO DOUBT!

    Posted by: Tony J | Dec 14, 2010 12:24:24 PM

  18. Time to go, Joe.....

    Posted by: Mike | Dec 14, 2010 12:36:17 PM

  19. I understand the problems here....but if this place were such a shrine to Cleve Jones and the rest of the Harvey Milk fans why hasn't it been converted into the shrine they think it should be? He's been dead for a number of years and the movie renewed interest in him. So where were Cleve and the boys when this place was made available?

    Reactionary rhetoric like this gets people nowhere and claiming that they would rather see a Starbucks there than HRC solves nothing but gets headlines. I am not and have not been a fan of the HRC ever since going into their shop in Provenicetown one year and then getting hounded for three years by them for money. However, if they want to put in a shop there...that is the beauty of America people you can put in a shop in Harvey's place or a mosque at ground zero. Just because you can do something in America doesn't mean it's right but it is a right so long as you comply with local state or Federal laws.

    So instead of whining about it perhaps Cleve and the boys would be better served to have a plaque or a something done like they do around the country with all historic places and let progress move forward in the Castro. This is not some holy relic or Indian burial ground's a store in a commercial area..better to carry on the ideals of Harvey today by fighting than turning a run down building into some sort of shrine.

    Posted by: wonderboi | Dec 14, 2010 12:56:29 PM

  20. @Dean - if HRC is our greatest champion, we will never have full civil rights. Tank is right - tear it up and start over.

    Posted by: JusticeontheRocks | Dec 14, 2010 2:02:13 PM

  21. HRC are Blood suckers. They are now trying to go into the states and get involved with local issues. They steamroll over everyone and then do nothing.

    There isn't "Class Warfare" over those dinners. The warfare is based on the fact that the monies raised goes out of local communities and sent off to DC where it hasn't done any good.

    NOW, let's move on to Mr. Jones. I find the irony of him complaining about someone making $$$ on Harvey Milk delicious. He's been living off of dead people since the AIDS crisis and should just go back to his exile in Palm Springs and stop embarrassing himself.

    One more thing; it is a storefront.It is not the Tomb of Evita.

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Dec 14, 2010 2:14:02 PM

  22. Has any other gay-rights group tried to rent the place? No.

    As to the charges against HRC, we live in a nation run by lobbyists. This is not HRC's fault. No doubt, Harvey would have been appalled at developments, but he also would have understood that you have to play the game.

    "A gays" in Harvey's day didn't do anything. THAT is what he fought against.

    Posted by: BobN | Dec 14, 2010 2:21:45 PM

  23. A gays today don't do anything. What's your fuckin' point, bobn?

    Posted by: TANK | Dec 14, 2010 2:35:26 PM

  24. HRC has completely failed us for decades now. Our community needs a political revolution.

    Posted by: the greasybear | Dec 14, 2010 3:38:00 PM

  25. Oh the whiners on the dinners are pathetic already.
    GROW UP cause until you are ready to grind down some other GLBT organizations like the TASK FORCE for their drug fueled parties we can discuss.
    I too have some real issues with what we have gotten out of the deal from our's that march on Washington movement coming along...but god damn unions can't even get a favorable bill out of a Democratic Congress and President with all their numbers in members and dollars.
    That said, I think a sober discussion is happening and is appropriate within the HRC membership in regard to leadership and direction.

    Posted by: mcNnyc | Dec 14, 2010 5:09:17 PM

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