Gentilly Girl- a part of the 99%

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.


  1. Hey, thanks, this is great news! I love Sean Penn and this is definitely a story that needs to be told.

    Comment by ceejay1968 — March 23, 2008 @ 12:44 am

  2. Harvey is a tough person to play because he was so colorful. My then girlfriend was a professional photog and she was a patron of his shop, which is how I met him. Great guy.

    Comment by Adrastos — March 23, 2008 @ 1:08 pm

  3. What a great story—-thanks for sharing. I remember those events well. Sean will do you proud, I just know it.

    Comment by charlotte — March 24, 2008 @ 7:33 pm

  4. As many of you know, I tend to throw myself headlong into things I believe in. Anti-Nuke, Aids, LGBT… and of course New Orleans.

    Right now I’m waiting to see the same kind of activist explosion here in NOLA. The ground has been laid, we have many seeds waiting to open up, and then we, who really care, will be able to muster 5,000+ in three hours notice.

    That’s power, and that’s how we create change for our home. (Harvey believed so much in creating that kind of movement.)

    Comment by Morwen Madrigal — March 24, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

  5. [...] wrote about the repercussions last March concerning the murder of the community’s hero. By Morwen Madrigal Feedbacks on this [...]

    Pingback by Gentilly Girl » Thirty Years Ago was My First Political Campaign — November 22, 2008 @ 12:28 pm

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