Gentilly Girl- a part of the 99%

November 22, 2008

Thirty Years Ago was My First Political Campaign

Filed under: Harvey Milk,Inter/Trans-Sexed,LGBT,Memories — Morwen Madrigal @ 12:28 pm

It was 1978 and I had been in San Francisco for maybe 9 months. The majority of the folks I knew were centered in the Castro District… I liked those folks. They were pretty much open, fun loving and accepting of a Navy kid from the Deep South. What went on in their bedrooms was none of my business, just as my “secret” was none of theirs. We had a neat little community going.

Then a crazy State Senator named Briggs came up with Prop 6- a banning of Gays and their supporters from being able to teach in Public schools. Since I was still contemplating getting a teaching degree when my enlistment was up, I knew that my being Trans would definitely rule out a chance to teach if Prop 6 passed.  That was the day I got into politics. (I had been doing community stuff for a few years, but not a campaign of this size.)

I handed out flyers, knocked on doors and basically became a pest in our fight to stop this evil proposition. Even got a talking-to from my C.O. regarding my efforts on the base. (Yep, couldn’t do that on Federal property, but he did agree with me.) I spent most of my free time traveling around the Bay Area to help stop this thing from passing. Many, many others were doing the same thing. It was very much a true Grassroots adventure. And we won the battle.

My Gentle Readers are probably looking cross-eyed at me wondering why I’m going into my ancient past. It’s because of a great piece from the HuffPo, “What Harvey Milk Tells Us About Proposition 8″. I was one of Harvey’s troops in the battle.

It’s a wonderful essay, so go and read it please. But first, here’s a portion of Harvey’s speech on the night we drove Prop 6 down:

“ the gay community all over this state, my message to you is, so far a lot of people joined us and rejected Proposition 6, and we owe them something. We owe them to continue the education campaign that took place. We must destroy the myths once and for all, shatter them. We must continue to speak out, and most importantly, most importantly, every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is you must tell your immediate family, you must tell your relatives, you must tell your friends, if indeed they are your friends, you must tell your neighbors, you must tell the people you work with, you must tell the people in the stores you shop in (thunderous applause), and once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all. And once you do, you will feel so much better.”

That night changed my life even though it would be several years before I summoned up the courage to declare my true self to the World. To just be what the Goddess made me. Life is very good now.

And a sad note, three weeks later Harvey Milk was assasinated along with Mayor Moscone by Dan White.

I wrote about the repercussions last March concerning the murder of the community’s hero.

March 21, 2008

Senn Penn Plays Harvey Milk

Filed under: Aside,Harvey Milk,LGBT,Memories — Tags: , , , — Morwen Madrigal @ 9:30 pm

“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door” , Harvey Milk

On a warm, sunny day June day back in 1978, I attended my first Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco. I was amazed to be around so many free spirits living their lives openly. Twas a far cry from the hatred shown to these kinds of people (deep down I knew I belonged there) from life in Alabama and throughout my Naval career. That was the first time I ever saw Harvey Milk. A few months later I would have the chance to meet him, and I jumped on the offer. He was something else.

On Nov. 27th, 1978, the Castro District (one of the few LGBT areas of the city) learned that Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk had been assassinated at City Hall by Dan White, a recently resigned Supervisor. A candlelight vigil was held, along with a candlelight march that same night. I was there and it set the stage for an annual remembrance march and vigil for many years. (The NAMES Quilt had it’s genesis in one of these marches when Cleve Jones had all of us carry cards bearing the names of those who had died of AIDS.)

A few months later I was in S.F. on leave and White’s trial wrapped up with him being given a 7+ year sentence because of “diminished capacity”, aka the “Twinkie Defense”. Within hours many had gathered and we wound up in a major riot with SFPD in the Civic Center. Many police cars burned that night and then SFPD descended upon the Castro to create a riot of their own. How the Hell I didn’t get myself hurt or killed is a miracle. I went back to duty and would see S.F. again in ’83 when I was discharged from the Service.

I stayed there for almost 14 more years, and Milk’s words were the reason for that: I wanted to help our tribes continue to move the agenda forward and to help during the AIDS Crisis.

So with that little snippet of my history given, I am so moved to read that Sean Penn is playing Milk’s role in a new movie. When it hits the theatres, I will be there.

Thanks so much Harvey, so very much. You gave me the courage to become myself.

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