The Mayor Of Castro Street – Randy Shilts
November 27, 1978-City Supervisor Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone are shot and killed by Dan White. The murders shock the city and nation and the actions of Dan White are both condemned and condoned across the country. In death, Milk would become a martyr and icon of the gay rights movement. His face is found on stamps, posters, t-shirts and he was honored posthumously by President Barack Obama on August 12, 2009 when his nephew Stuart Milk received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his behalf. I believe that if Milk were alive today, he would be proud at the amount of progress that has been made in the struggle for gay rights and the landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
A native of Woodmere in the Five Towns section of New York, Milk’s life which last less than 50 years, was a roller coaster ride complete with service in the Navy, the corporate world and finally politics when he and love Scott Smith opened a camera shop in a small part of San Francisco called the Castro. And it is at this point, that his life takes off and he begins his path to becoming the first elected gay man to public office. Randy Shilts, the acclaimed and late author of ‘And The Band Played On’, chronicles Milk’s life in the excellent autobiography of one of the 20th century’s most interesting figures. Like all great historical figures, Milk’s life was a combination of various issues and factors all combining to shape the Mayor of Castro Street. Losing several lovers throughout his life to suicide, Milk was no stranger to tragedy and heartache and the battle against Proposition 6 nearly divided a nation. The suicides would haunt him throughout his life and Milk tape recorded his will not long before his own death.
Dan White was convicted and served five years in prison before committing suicide in 1984. His conviction and light sentence helped trigger the ” White Night Riots” and the case is still known as the one in which the first ever “Twinkie” defense was used. Shilts, a no-nonsense writer with strong attention to detail, covers Milk’s life exceptionally well, and this biography along with Rob Epstein’s documentary ‘The Times of Harvey Milk’, the exceptional documentary about Milk’s life, culminated with the 2008 award-winning film ‘Milk’ starring Sean Penn and Josh Brolin. This book is everything you wanted to know about Harvey and more.