Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Today I did a pleasant little piece of "research" for the Gay and Gray columns I write for Time Goes By and got to hear an anecdote about the murdered San Francisco supervisor. A local senior center sponsored a showing of the Gus Van Sant film as their contribution to Gay Pride month. Their copy of the film had Spanish subtitles; the audience of some 30 elders seemed roughly to come in equal thirds from the Latino, Filipino and white communities.
After the movie, we were asked how many of us were living in the city during the dramatic events shown -- very few, as it turned out.
But there was one woman who piped up: "In those days my children were at school in the Mission at St. Peter's Catholic Church. One day I was setting up chairs in the auditorium and a man in a suit and tie came in. He looked at me and said 'what should I do?'
"I said 'take off that jacket and help me move tables.' So he did. I didn't even think to ask who he was. We got all set up and the priests came in.
"I realized I should ask my helper, 'who are you?'
"He said, 'Oh, I'm Supervisor Harvey Milk.' He was such a nice man, just like that."
Harvey, the New York Jewish queer, knew how to act in a Catholic school auditorium. It's easy to like politicians who come without fanfare and pitch in where they are needed.