Harvey Milk’s Old Camera Store To Become An HRC Gift Shop

Posted By on December 7, 2010

The birthplace of the gay rights movement in San Francisco, Harvey Milk’s “Castro Camera,” has been purchased by the Human Rights Campaign to house their new gift shop. What do you think? Just what Harvey Milk had in mind?

Grand opening? On Harvey Milk Day next year of course. Activism meets corporate.

castro camera, harvey milk, hrc, gift shop

In a press release, the organization is painting the move as a marriage of two greats in the gay civil rights fight: “We are the beneficiaries of [Milk’s] groundbreaking activism and are honored to be part of the future he envisioned,” said HRC president Joe Solomonese. But some gay advocates say that’s a bit of a lofty declaration. Let’s remember that Milk was actually effective in rousing San Francisco’s gay civil rights movement in the 1970s. As for the HRC, many accuse the country’s biggest gay civil rights organization of complacency. “I can definitely tell you the grassroots community is very frustrated and feels it’s an insult for the HRC to be in that space,” says Robin McGehee, the director of GetEQUAL, a gay rights org that stages direct protests. “I hope by being that space every day they’re reminded by the direct actions and protests that Harvey Milk and Cleve Jones spurred out of that spot and never compromise equality.”

About The Author

Eric Ethington
Eric Ethington is a journalist, activist, and researcher. His writing, advocacy work, and research have been featured on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, the New York Times, The Guardian, and The Public Eye magazine. Follow him on Twitter @EricEthington.


8 Responses to “Harvey Milk’s Old Camera Store To Become An HRC Gift Shop”

  1. Justan says:

    I’m furious. And Harvey is rolling in his grave.

  2. We all made mistakes, and the HRC has too, as well as Harvey Milk, in the time before he was elected in 1977. And we all learn from our mistakes. I am confident, that the HRC realizes that its rank and file should include people other then those who can afford Black-Tie Events. I knew Harvey, and was very involved in the early S.F. gay rights movement. I was a photographer and used to have my film developed at Harvey’s shop. In fact, I am now in contact with the HRC, about using my iconic Milk images, as part of their planned Mural. I told them up front, that I have hesitations because of their past mistakes. I believe, it is important to have a gay Organization there… better than another Starbucks, or franchise. I believe that the HRC can help kindle the political and social movement like they were, when Harvey, Scott and us pioneers felt back in the 1970’s. Hopefully, I will be part of it with the inclusion of my Milk and Castro images.

    • Admin (Eric) Admin (Eric) says:

      Jerry! I agree that there should be a LGBT rights organization there, but I’m just not comfortable with it being the HRC. The Human Rights Campaign is the opposite of what Harvey Milk stood for (meaning the black-tie events VS grass-roots activism). Wouldn’t the space be better served by groups like GetEQUAL, or maybe something like the Trevor Project?

      Thank you so much for everything you have and continue to do for the community Jerry. We need you!

  3. Justin W. N. says:

    I believe that a local, grass-roots organization needs to occupy that space. The HRC does great things, but a smaller, more community-oriented, local group should definitely keep the spirit of true activism alive.

  4. Misty Fowler says:

    I would be ok with an HRC activism office there, but this seems purely to be an attempt to capitalize on Harvey Milk’s story. In addition, this attempt at memorializing Harvey Milk is just wrong. Harvey Milk was an activist, and represents a movement, and turning his memory into a tourist trap is pathetic.

    I currently have a monthly donation to the HRC. I might have to reconsider where that donation is going.

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eric Ethington, Eric Ethington. Eric Ethington said: Harvey Milk's Camera Store To Become An HRC Gift Shop http://bit.ly/gzS40y #lgbt […]

  6. Justan says:

    I agree, Misty. It’s absolutely capitalization.
    “We are the beneficiaries of [Milk’s] groundbreaking activism and are honored to be part of the future he envisioned.”
    What future is that? A future of cocktail parties, back-door compromises and all talk no action?
    Harvey Milk gave people hope, and motivated them into action. The HRC gives people bumper stickers and asks them for checks.
    Justin is right. A local grass-roots group should have that space, or even the Trevor Project. Or even make it into the “Harvey Milk LGBTQ Resource Center” or drop-in place for homeless youth. Something more than a cash cow.

  7. […] Francisco, California – Following a national outcry over the Human Rights Campaign’s announcement that they were turning the old Camera Store owned by Harvey Milk into a gift store, the HRC released […]

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