Thursday, June 7, 2012

Orange Tuesday June 7,1977 and PRIDE MONTH 2012 (c) J. Pritikin

I recommended, and Randy Shilts named a Chapter in his book "ORANGE TUESDAY"
Jerry Pritikin With Harvey Milk 3/9/78 The day Harvey was the Acting-Mayor of S.F.
Winds on Castro Street December 1978 a sign posted of the B0A on Market & Castro St.
(c) Jerry Pritikin

CHICAGO: June 7,2012

Keep in mind, that in the 1970s, there were no digital cameras, and the WWW was not even a pipe dream. The only way for a story to reach national news was via the wire services. Back then, they seldom reported on gay news or events. Yet, in a span of 3 weeks in 1977, I managed to place 3 gay theme-stories nationally.Happy Pride Month! I was recently inducted into Chicago's Senior Citizen Senior Hall of Fame. I'm a 75 year old walking museum of gay history. During that 3 week period in 1977, I became a footnote in gay history. It started with a friend who challenged me to create something to fight back against Anita Bryant. So I went home, smoked a joint, and came up with a t-shirt idea.It was: Anita Bryant's Husband is a Homo Sapien! I had 72 made, wound up selling 30 of them, and gave away most of the others. I wore one to the United Press International's San Francisco bureau and they ran a photo story about the T-shirt. While waiting for a bus to go there, a little old lady read my chest. Puzzled, she asked, "If that is true, why did she mary him?" The next day Paul Harvey used the UPI story to end his ABC Radio News and Commentary show. A few weeks later, I was able to get Jane Fonda to wear the shirt at a gay fund raiser at a S.F. Disco. That event made the Associated Press wires.

Then on June 7,1977 I was on hand for an impromptu S.F. march in response to the Anita Bryant-led victory to rescind a gay rights ordinance in Dade County, Florida. Shortly after 5P.M. San Francisco time, the news from Dade County Florida indicated that the gays were going to lose that election. I grabbed my camera and walked down to the Castro. Within a short while there were about 200 people milling around and as more time past it became a much larger crowd. By 10:30, KTVU was the only local media to be seen. They were getting ready to do a live feed back to the Oakland based station. I spotted newscaster Tom Clancy, at the corner of Castro and Market(Now known as Harvey Milk Plaza) and asked him if he had a lead-in for his "spot" and he nodded "No". I recommended it be called "Orange Tuesday". He liked it,and used it to open his segment. Harvey Milk arrived holding a bullhorn. We all walked a block away on Eureka in front of a Catholic Church. The march started going up 18th St. and we turned on Castro St. past the Castro Theater,and went down Market Street to Polk Street, passed City Hall,and downtown in Union Square. Over 5,000 people joined in listening to Harvey Milk chanting "OUT OF THE BARS AND INTO THE STREETS! Because it was an impromptu event, there were no microphones set up. There were just a few speakers, however Harvey used his Bullhorn to warn the crowd, "If it could happen in Dade county, it could happen anywhere and even in San Francisco!" While Harvey was speaking, I took 2 frames with my Canon AE1. I did not know if the those images came OUT. After the impromptu event ended I walked over to the Associated Press office in Fox Plaza to see if they might be interested in seeing if I had anything that could be put on their wires. At first they refused but I insisted the photos were national news worthy since 5,000 people had taken part in a march responding to an election several thousand miles away. So they developed my roll of film and ran with an image that is now part of our gay history. Ironically, in the recreation for the MILK movie, Harvey was shown with his bullhorn talking to a crowd in front of the Castro Theater. There were lots of signs were in the crowd. This was not the real story as the march had been impromptu and only a few signs were on hand. As well Harvey was shown talking at the end of the march in front of City Hall which had not happened. There were a few other mistakes in the movie, but the important fact is it introduced Harvey Milk to millions and millions of people, young and old, gay and straight, here in America and around the world.

So 35 years ago on this date my photo of Harvey Milk and Orange Tuesday became a major footnote in gay history. As radio commentator Paul harvey used to say... AND NOW YOU KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY!


No comments:

ALL of the © JERRY PRITIKIN images on this blog
cannot be reproduced, re-posted elsewhere or published without PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION