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The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk

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message 1: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker (lechatquilit) Hi, all. Apologies first off for this plug. The LGBTQA Group Books, is discussing Randy Shilts's bio of Harvey Milk, The Mayor of Castro Street. Whether you're reading or have read the book, or even just planning to do so, pop on over and say "hi". The discussion is going on here .


message 2: by Whitaker (last edited Jan 14, 2009 06:47AM) (new)

Whitaker (lechatquilit) Got through Part I (The Years Without Hope) and put up my thoughts on that at LGBTAQ Group. Any interest in discussing the book? Click here .



message 3: by Whitaker (last edited Jan 18, 2009 12:55AM) (new)

Whitaker (lechatquilit) Going to watch the film Milk tonight. Meanwhile, I'm keeping up with reading The Mayor of Castro Street. Just finished Part II.

Part II tells the amazing story of how Harvey rose to secure his election to supervisor. He sounds like a man of incredible energy and determination. He has to go through three losses before making it on his fourth try. He also comes across as a man who genuinely cared for the underdog. His ‘hope speech’ was entirely moving (and must surely resonate with Obama’s ‘change speech’):

“I’ll never forget what is was like coming out … I’ll never forget the looks on the faces of those who have lost hope, whether it be young gays, or seniors, or blacks looking for that almost-impossible-to-find job, or Latinos trying to explain their problems and aspirations in a tongue that’s foreign to them.

No it’s not my election I want, it’s yours. It will mean that a green light is lit that says to all who feel lost and disenfranchised that you can now go forward.

It means hope and we – no – you and you and you and, yes, you, you’ve got to give them hope.”


More discussion on Part II going on here .





message 4: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker (lechatquilit) Finally finished the book. Here's what I thought of it:

Well-written biography of Harvey Milk. Shilts eschews the hagiographic approach adopted in the movie Milk to provide a more rounded view of Milk's life, his life work and his legacy.

Shilts portrays Milk with all his fire and passion for life: both personal and political. We see his skill as a politician with an inate sense of theatre and of justice, who built a broad support base that included not just the gay population but small business, blue collar industry and other minority groups. We also see the growth of the gay rights movement which Shilts rightly situates in the context of the social and economic changes taking place in San Francisco and the Castro at the time. And we see how gay sexual and political empowerment fed into Milk's own personal outsized life.


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