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The Mayor of Castro Street > "You are never given power, you have to take it.” (Looking at Part II - The Mayor of Castro Street)

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message 1: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker (lechatquilit) Post your thoughts on Part II of The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk here.

message 2: by Whitaker (last edited Jan 18, 2009 12:56AM) (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.”

message 3: by Whitaker (last edited Jan 18, 2009 12:58AM) (new)

Whitaker (lechatquilit) A major theme in Part II is how, in Harvey’s words, “You are never given power, you have to take it.” The gathering of gay men as a political and economic force blew away the old ‘genteel’ politics of appeasement and fuelled its own conservative backlash. The resulting mix of increased gay bashing (both physical and political) energised the gay population to reject the established gay leaders and demand a more vigorous inclusion into the political scene. Harvey himself asserted, “Anita Bryant herself pushed the gay movement ahead and the subject can never be pushed back into darkness.”

This seems to be a theme that repeats itself over and over again in gay American history: the exhortation to not frighten the liberal establishment and the anger when the liberal establishment is too timid in any event to deliver. The AIDS epidemic and the apathetic response to help angered the gay population and galvanised them into rising to find their own solutions to the crisis. What do you think?

message 4: by Nicole (new)

Nicole  I loved reading how each election brought Milk closer and closer to victory. Despite what his detractors said, he was quickly becoming a political force to be reckoned with. I loved how he always seemed to outsmart them. In particular, I like how he got the two banks to be part of CVA. He did a lot in showing how hitting establishments in the pocketbook really can affect change. He's actually very inspirational (just saw Milk this morning - even though I'm still in the midst of this book). I find myself wanting to do something.

message 5: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker (lechatquilit) Nicole, hi. Yes, he does come across as having a great deal of political savvy, doesn't he. That is not so apparent in the movie, but I guess they didn't have the time.

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