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Monday 24 November 2003


it's the 25 anniversary of the slaying of the US's first openly gay politician, Harvey Milk, a member of the San Francisco board of supervisors. Dan White, the killer, also killed Mayor Moscone. The gay community responded by having a candle-light march. White, a former police officer, plead temporary insanity and his plea became erroneously known as the Twinkie Defense. Although it mentioned ho-ho's and whatnot, it didn't hinge on junk food. The jury was selected to be pro-death penatly, as White might have been sentenced to death. The conservative, pro-police jury, widely described as homphobic, sentenced White to eight years in prison, of which he served five. The gay community responded with a somehwhat angrier march. Some marchers wanted to commit vandalism. The march leaders had formed a human chain keeping the rowdier deonstrators out of trouble. the overwhelmingly homophic police department promptly arrested all the leaders and provoke the crowd, which responded to the provocation. The police then went into the Castro (the city's gay neighborhood) and started pulling people out of bars and arresting them. Gay folks in bars were as apolitcal then as they are now. Guys just looking to drink and cruise were beaten by police. The police joked about getting cute guys and boyfriends as they assaulted bystanders. A riot thus errupted. Police cars were overturned. This eventually became known as the White Night Riots. Queers do fight back.

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