Bilerico Report

Got Milk? Should the HRC turn Castro Camera location into a ‘souvenir shop’?

Harvey Milk, in front of his Castro Camera shop, circa 1973

Harvey Milk, in front of his Castro Camera shop, circa 1973

I’ll start this blog by asking one simple question. How do you think many of the Jewish people would feel if a Jewish rights organization (of which most of them don’t belong) purchased Anne Frank’s home and turned it into a souvenir shop?

Most would be disgusted, many would be angry.

Harvey Milk, in front of his Castro Camera shop, circa 1973

I think it’s a fair, albeit hypothetical, analogy of what is occurring in the Castro right now. I doubt it would ever happen in the Jewish community.

The Human Rights Campaign’s decision to rent Harvey Milk’s former camera store, and assimilate it into their vast fundraising network as an “action center,” certainly has Harvey turning over in his grave.

The only action performed in an HRC Action Center is that of taking out your wallet and parting with some of your hard earned money. The Human Rights Campaign has taken Harvey Milk’s legacy hostage and will milk every dollar from that legacy that they possibly can.

The Human Rights Campaign has the unprecedented opportunity to take a piece of homosexual history, at the epicenter of our rights movement, and turn it into a power tool in this war -– one akin to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. A memorial and museum to Harvey Milk’s legacy and vision that everyone could enjoy would be much more effective and powerful.

Instead, they have chosen to install a corporate cash register. What type of people are more resolved to make a difference in this world? Those who tour the Anne Frank house or the people who walk into a store and buy an equality sticker?

Some will argue that the presence of the HRC in this space is better than any other alternative corporate retailer. It is irrelevant to me whether the sweaters sold at this historical site have no logo or the equality logo — it’s a complete misuse of the power of this location and disrespectful to Harvey Milk’s legacy.

Again, I find myself questioning the logic of the leadership of the Human Rights Campaign. They clearly arrived at this decision without any thoughtful debate or input from the community. This theme has been reverberating throughout our community for years but has again fallen on deaf ears.

I have recently been lumped in with many others who have, for decades, been calling for change at the HRC. This is simply false.

I’ve been a staunch supporter of the Human Rights Campaign since I graduated high school in 1993. It pains me to criticize an organization I have followed so faithfully for more than a decade. However, I can no longer support an organization that lacks the vision and leadership to take this movement to the next level. I’ll now work with others to effect change in this organization until it has occurred.

I’ll be joining many others in my first ever protest against the Human Rights Campaign this Saturday. I encourage everyone to join us outside Harvey Milk’s former camera store at 575 Castro Street, on Saturday, Dec. 18, from Noon to 2pm.

As you know, I and many others have been calling for the President of the Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solmonese to resign.

Please take action now on this important issue by clicking here and signing the petition.

Michael Petrelis and I have recently combined our lists of those calling for his resignation. Take a moment to visit his website and view the list of over 50 people now calling for this action. A groundswell has begun that will be difficult for the Human Rights Campaign to ignore.

I’ll see you Saturday!
Ethan August

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