Cleve Jones Hub

Anderson Cooper on Obama's Same-Sex Marriage Flip-Flop: VIDEO


Anderson Cooper talks to pundit Paul Begala and activist Cleve Jones about Obama's 1996 support of same-sex marriage stance and his current opposition to it, as well as his foot-dragging on gay rights promises.

Said Jones: "The momentum is clear. The tide of history is clear. His window of opportunity to stake his claim on the right side of history is diminishing rapidly."

They also discuss the bind Obama is in given his backward position, an approaching vote on marriage equality in New York, and a gay fundraiser there this week.


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Trevor Project to Operate Lifeline Call Center for Suicidal LGBTQ Teens from Harvey Milk Camera Shop in SF

575 Castro as recreated for the Gus van Sant biopic Milk.

Following concern from activists that the Human Rights Campaign was turning Harvey Milk's old camera shop at 575 Castro in San Francisco into a boutique, the Trevor Project announced today that it would be partnering with HRC to operate a Lifeline call center from the site:

"Today, The Trevor Project, in collaboration with the Human Rights Campaign announced a long-term partnership to operate a crisis and suicide prevention Trevor Lifeline call center along with an HRC Action Center and Store from the site of Harvey Milk’s Castro Camera. This exciting new partnership to harness Harvey Milk’s legacy at this historic location is thanks in part to the grassroots support of local San Francisco leaders, including Harvey Milk’s close friend and campaign manager, Anne Kronenberg. Cleve Jones, Frank M. Robinson, the Academy Award®-winning writer of “Milk” and Trevor Board Member, Dustin Lance Black, and David McFarland, Chair of the Board of The Trevor Project have each made statements in support of this new and exciting endeavor."

Trevor Said Jones: "It is wonderful that Harvey's message of hope will again emanate from the site of Castro Camera. He spoke often of our responsibility to our young people and experienced first-hand the pain of losing loved ones to suicide. The next time a frightened gay kid from Altoona - or anywhere - calls out for help, that call will be answered by a Trevor Project volunteer in Harvey's old store. I think he'd approve."

Jones had earlier been critical of HRC's planned use of the site as a boutique, as had former Milk speechwriter Robinson, who told the  Bay Area Reporter:"To start selling Harvey Milk coffee mugs, Milk condoms, whatever merchandise ... for God's sake no. It is a cheapening of Harvey's image. Harvey essentially gave his life for the gay community and for anybody to go in there and make money off of his image by selling cheap trinkets, I am sorry that is a no-no in my opinion."

Robinson expressed praise for the new partnership today: “I can't think of a better - and more needed - use for the old shop.  In growing up, I had two gay friends who committed suicide and I myself had times when I contemplated it.  For all those who work with the Trevor Project, my utmost admiration and thanks.  I only wish you had existed when I was young, confused, gay and desperately needed somebody to talk to.  My heartfelt thanks and admiration for all concerned.”

Trevor Project Executive Director and CEO Charles Robbins adds: "Our friends at HRC will cover the costs of installing the call center, will prominently feature The Trevor Project signage in the HRC Action Center and Store, and will provide an internet kiosk for LGBTQ youth to access suicide prevention resources and connect to In addition, HRC will make a $10,000 annual donation for the next three years to The Trevor Project, whose mission is to build community and inspire positive change for LGBTQ youth."

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]

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

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

575 Castro as recreated for the Gus van Sant biopic Milk.

Activists and friends of Harvey Milk are speaking out for and against the Human Rights Campaign's planned rental of Milk's old camera shop at 575 Castro Street. The group plans to use it as a retail shop and action center.

(Cleve Jones photo by Brian Kusler)

Writes The Bay Area Reporter: Jones

While Dan Nicoletta, a photographer who befriended Milk, said he feels HRC's being in the historic retail location is "an awkward fit," he does not see a need to "police" who control's Milk's legacy.

"Even though lots of people who were/are the antithesis of what Milk stood for continue to brazenly co-opt his name on a regular basis, the 2010 truth of the matter is that Harvey's legacy is everybody's now," wrote Nicoletta in an e-mailed response. "I hope that this new HRC location will truly be an action center as the press release states and not simply a cottage industry. The countless visitors to San Francisco's LGBT mecca need something more than a T-shirt or a coffee mug to take home to their respective struggles, hopefully HRC will do its part to honor the legacy which it seeks to represent in this instance and provide that."

But in interviews with the Bay Area Reporter, Milk confidante Cleve Jones (pictured) and his former speechwriter Frank Robinson, as well as screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for his biopic about Milk, lambasted HRC for using Milk's legacy for its own financial gain.

"To start selling Harvey Milk coffee mugs, Milk condoms, whatever merchandise ... for God's sake no. It is a cheapening of Harvey's image," said Robinson, who lives nearby the store. "Harvey essentially gave his life for the gay community and for anybody to go in there and make money off of his image by selling cheap trinkets, I am sorry that is a no-no in my opinion."

Jones said that anyone who knew Milk and what he stood for would never equate his brand of progressive, grassroots political activism with the Human Rights Campaign, long criticized as being more interested with having access to Democratic political leaders than pushing for LGBT rights.

Harvey-milk San Francisco-based activist Michael Petrelis called HRC's rental of the shop "gay perversion".

"In taking over the lease of Harvey's old shop, HRC is showing us again how desperate they are to develop some bona fide grassroots credibility, by moving half a block in the Castro from their current "action center's" location. That move will not transform HRC into an effective advocate for the gays. That center, BTW, has never been the site for an open forum or series of meetings by HRC's San Francisco local organizing committee. It's just a gift store outlet whose sole purpose is to take local gay dollars and ship them to DC, to pay for HRC's headquarters and robust executive salaries."

The Log Cabin Republicans of San Francisco also blasted the move, arguing that Harvey Milk worked for both Democrats and Republicans and HRC does not. Said LCRSF president Dan Brown.

“Harvey Milk supported both Republican and Democratic candidates throughout his life, and continually sought to reach consensus on both sides of the aisle for the benefit of us all. He tried to get everyone involved in fighting for their rights, whether by volunteering, lobbying, protesting, running for office, talking to friends, coworkers and family, and yes, even fundraising. If HRC, as the largest LGBT rights organization by funding, took a page from Harvey’s book rather than relying on empty promises from elected officials that rarely materialize, then we would be much closer to full equality than we currently are.”

Besen At least one activist (who is also a former spokesman for HRC) is defending them. Wayne Besen (right), of Truth Wins Out, scolded Black, calling his criticism a "cheap shot" at the organization:

"It is disappointing to watch Black throw a petty little tantrum that is unworthy of his honorable reputation. If he does not like HRC that is his prerogative. However, the answer is to start an organization of his own, not take underhanded swipes at our nation’s largest LGBT group. As Black must know, real estate is quite pricey on San Francisco’s Castro Street. The alternative to HRC running this store is to have a bland chain outlet take over the space that offers no value to the LGBT community. At least HRC has an action center, where people can make a difference by reaching out to their elected officials."

Besen also takes issue with the LCR:

"The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed many Republicans over the years, even at the price of alienating much of its liberal base. The only reason that HRC has not embraced more members of the GOP is that they are so crappy on LGBT rights that they are not worthy of support."

To follow news on Harvey Milk, check out our HUB. And "LIKE" it to follow updates on Facebook.

Cleve Jones Pens Open Letter to Pelosi Urging ENDA Vote

Activist Cleve Jones, in conjunction with the Courage Campaign and GetEQUAL, has penned an open letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to bring ENDA to the House floor for a vote.

Jones Writes Jones in the letter: "We've seen the passion you've brought to the challenge of passing health care reform. Now more than ever, we need your passion and skill to achieve the passage of ENDA. As you know, many Americans in the LGBT community -- especially young people -- are increasingly frustrated and cynical about the pace of progress in Washington. We want you to show them that cynicism is not the response at this time. They need to believe in the process, Madame Speaker, and you can restore their faith in this process by moving expeditiously to bring ENDA to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives."

You can sign on to the petition HERE.

In recent days, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has said she believes the votes are there for ENDA to pass. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) has said he believes a vote is likely in mid-April.

(photo by Brian Kusler)

Read Cleve Jones full letter, AFTER THE JUMP... 

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Watch: Meathead to the Rescue of Marriage Equality

Reiner  #prop8

Hank Plante interviews Hollywood activists director Rob Reiner (All in the Family's Meathead, of course) and producer Bruce Cohen, and activist Cleve Jones about the federal Prop 8 trial.


Continue reading "Watch: Meathead to the Rescue of Marriage Equality" »


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