Behind the Scenes

Milk and the Moscone Center

Two years ago, reporting on our time at the IHRSA show at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, I wrote about the man for whom the Moscone Center is named. Looking back at that post now, it's almost funny how I described former San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and how I stumbled upon who he was. During our stay in San Francisco, I read an obituary of a man who had served as Moscone's press aide. In the post, I wrote how Moscone was assassinated in 1978 "along with another city official."

Another city official. That other city official was Harvey Milk, the subject of the Sean Penn movie "Milk" in theaters now. I've been wanting to see this movie for some time, so with the office closed on Monday for President's Day, with the Oscars coming up this Sunday (Penn is up for Best Actor) and with the IHRSA show just weeks away at the Moscone Center, this was the perfect time for Mom and me to see it.

I had read that Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in the United States (some might dispute that fact), but I had no idea his influence as a San Francisco Supervisor spread throughout California and around the country. "Milk," above all else, was a civil rights movie. There are so many parallels of the gay civil rights movement of the 1970s to the larger civil rights movement of African-Americans in the 1960s. Both had police interventions. Both had marches. Both had casualties.

The motives of Dan White, the ousted city official who assassinated both Moscone and Milk on Nov. 27, 1978, are still unclear, whether he was still mad about not getting his job back or whether he was anti-gay or just jealous of Milk's and Moscone's publicity. One thing that is clear is that White was a troubled individual. I encourage you to read the San Francisco Chronicle's account of Milk and the assassinations. Fascinating stuff. I would also encourage you to see the movie, too.

Like many industries, the club industry still has issues grappling with the essence of the gay community and its place in society. Recent examples in Idaho, Minnesota and Iowa are reminders of the opposition that same-sex couples and their families face regarding the subject of health club memberships.

If you attend next month's IHRSA show in San Francisco, think not only about the man for whom the Moscone Center is named, but think about "another city official" who lost his life the same day Moscone did more than 30 years ago.

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