P R I T I K I N    S C E N E    # 5

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ORANGE TUESDAY 1977 J. Pritikin

Harvey Milk speaking to an angry crowd at Union Square on Orange Tuesday, June 7, 1977, after a boisterous march through the city in response to the repeal in Miami of a human rights ordinance, thanks to the homophobic "SAVE OUR CHILDREN" campaign led by ANITA BRYANT.

What's interesting is, again we were on the same wavelength. I also marched to Union Square, but was closer to the front than you and Harvey was chanting on the bull horn...."Out of the bars and into the streets!" When we all settled in at Union Square, preceding Harvey, and I recall the biggest cheer of the night was when a young black lady climbed a flag pole and hoisted a GAY POWER FLAG. (I have that negative somewhere)

I went to Associated Press at the Fox Plaza and they bought the picture of Harvey with a bullhorn, and it went out on their wire photo's. The following day, I got a call from Newsweek asking me if I had any other images...and the Examiner ran it on the front page the following afternoon June 8th. The Chronicle ran it in their Sunday "World" Section. The following frame after the Bullhorn/Save Our Rights image has never been published. It's almost the same except the back of the sign is showing and it says "NOW".

ORANGE TUESDAY: I gave this name to Tom Clancy, 11 PM newsman on local station KTVU channel 2. (He's now an afternoon anchor at CNN.) He was getting ready to do a live feed from The Castro at the spot now known as Harvey MIlk Plaza, on the first reaction from the Castro in regards to Anita Bryant's Dade County Florida anti-gay victory. I asked Clancy 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. Years later, Randy Shilts asked to use my Harvey Milk/Save Our Rights image in his book, the Mayor of Castro Street. I told him about the story of "Orange Tuesday" and he used it to name a chapter in the book.

And now you know the rest of the story....as Paul Harvey would say!

I've always said that Anita Bryant did the gay community an enormous favor by starting her campaign of hatred. She put "GAY" on the front pages. "GAY" became an acceptable topic of conversation at dinner tables across America, and in the Press. Before that, we were invisible. You just never saw or heard "GAY" mentioned in polite circles. And Jerry proves my point that the rules had changed. He tells how the media were scrambling for pictures of a crowd of very angry gay activists on the move. Thanks to Anita, we had become newsworthy. That's when the gay movement started to really gain momentum and make significant progress. That's when the world saw real live gay people for the first time. Maybe if Jerry hadn't taken his picture to the AP office, maybe we wouldn't have made the front pages of papers everywhere, and maybe we would have missed our lucky break. Maybe Jerry is more of a hero than any of us realize!

By the end of that summer, every time a gay related topic hit the news, you could be sure that all the "Eyewitness News" teams in their hi-tech mobile units with the satellite dish on the roof would show up at Market and Castro looking for some reaction from the gay community to put on the 11 O'Clock news. We soon learned that they wanted action so, when they showed up, we'd pour out of the bars, close down Castro Street to traffic (there were so many of us, it was easy!), and as soon as the cameras started to roll, we'd scream and shout and shake our fists and look threatening. Then they'd pack up their equipment and we'd go back in the bars. The media helped us get the word out to America that our time for justice had come.

While I have the floor, I want to publicly thank Jerry for sharing his images with us. I am very pleased to be the one to post some of his historic pictures on the web for the first time.

Uncle Donald


This page created June 10, 2006 and modified July 6, 2009
• Text and Graphics © 2006 • Jerry Pritikin • Chicago •
Permission to copy images is granted only for non-commercial, non-profit use.