The Harvey Milk Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Democratic Club, San Francisco’s largest Democratic Club, is known for both its progressive politics and its independence. Founded in 1976 as the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club, during a time when founding Democratic Clubs was the radical thing to do; It was the city’s first Democratic club with the word “gay” in its name. While other gay groups balked at supporting Harvey Milk’s bid for supervisor, and as one early member says, were uncomfortable talking about cocksucking, The Milk Club was a place for people to be political, left, and queer. It was also a club founded to keep the gay community free itself of anointed gatekeepers and machine politics. The club was renamed for Supervisor Harvey Milk when he was assassinated in 1978.
Although the club is in its third decade, its role hasn’t changed. Over and over again, it has supported progressive issues in San Francisco politics. It was instrumental in electing progressive queers and pushing issues that have changed the world, from Harry Britt, Tom Ammiano, and Carole Migden, to early explicit sex education about HIV and inventing the idea of domestic partnerships.
You don’t have to be queer to be part of this club, and you certainly don’t have to be a Democrat. It is a place for anyone who thinks there ought to be a place for queerness in the progressive struggle, and a place for progressive politics in the queer community.
We welcome, and are the same cultural radicals who joined the club thirty years ago. This is a club for queers, dykes, transgender people, people of color, sex workers, fat people, leather/BDSM people, for people who don’t fit in the queer community easily and people who don’t fit in their gender easily, for gay pride and gay shame. It’s also a place for political radicals and progressives, who want to see a different world for labor, tenants, working people, people of color, and women.
In a lot of places in this country the radicals don’t expect to engage with traditional politics. Here we expect to interrogate the Board of Supervisors, the District Attorney, the Mayor, the US Representative, to shape their agenda and sometimes to become them. Our preamble says “we demand nothing less” than full support for queer rights, and nothing less than full support for progressive issues.