Bil Browning

Trevor Project Joins HRC In Milk's Camera Shop

Filed By Bil Browning | January 18, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, The Movement
Tags: action center, camera store, Harvey Milk, HRC, LGBT history, San Francisco, Trevor Project

The Trevor Project has officially announced that they will be joining HRC in establishing an LGBT action center at the site of Harvey Milk's former camera shop. The group will be operating a crisis and suicide prevention Trevor Lifeline call center out of the location.

9_640CastroCamera1973R.jpgAfter HRC announced they were going to put a store and action center at the spot of Milk's famous headquarters, I criticized the group for the plan to sell mousepads and t-shirts at the site where so much LGBT history was made. Other bloggers and activists quickly chimed in either for or against.

When Cleve Jones made the suggestion that the two organizations team up to provide a larger focus on activism and less on the store, it seemed like a perfect solution - especially after the glut of LGBT teen suicides recently. Kudos to both organizations for working out a deal that keeps everyone happy and focuses primarily on the LGBT community.

Reacting to the news that the groups would share the space, Cleve says, "It is wonderful that Harvey's message of hope will again emanate from the site of Castro Camera. He spoke often of our responsibility to our young people and experienced first-hand the pain of losing loved ones to suicide. The next time a frightened gay kid from Altoona - or anywhere - calls out for help, that call will be answered by a Trevor Project volunteer in Harvey's old store. I think he'd approve."

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Wait, how does this "resolution" deal with any of the original problems with HRC running a store out of that site?

Am I surprised that gays can't even isolate the original problem? Does Cleve really think a lack of phone calls with gay kids from Altoona was the reason people were complaining? Was it the reason he was complaining?

This is silly, but we're in perpetual silly season in LGBT activism. Since HRC will still be selling the mystique of real activism and using the profits for their execs' bloated salaries (only now some phone calls will happen in the same building, even though more phone calls could probably happen on cheaper property), I'm guessing what happened here is the Trevor Project put their name on the idea and then people feel like they can't say anything since the Trevor Project is beyond criticism because they deal with gay teen suicide.

Honestly, I think that the people who were OK with this from the beginning are in the more intellectually tenable position. I'm hoping, for his sake, that Cleve was just looking for an easy way to call this a win.

Alex I have just six words for you. 6 simple words. Don't fart on a lit match.

Just to piggyback on Alex's comment here: it does seem that "queer teen suicides" has become the easy way to bring artificial closure to any and every issue these days.

There is in fact a great deal that needs to be said about both issues: HRC's hollow notion of activism AND the way the queer teen suicide issue is being used and manipulated these days, not to mention the inflation of the problem of suicides. To be clear: questioning the degree of the problem is not saying it doesn't exist. But I'm growing increasingly suspicious of the data that's being generated out of the recent hype these days.

But more later.

It really has become a trump card, and it's clear that that's what HRC is trying to do here. Either that or they think that's what people wanted since Cleve proposed it a few weeks ago.

Since I'm trying to be nicer and I'm going to bed soon, I'll take back all the "stupid"s I said about Cleve. I do think that he's trying to look for an easy way to declare this a win since driving HRC from the site seems difficult. But it really doesn't solve any of the original problems. It's like someone saying they're horny so they eat a ham sandwich. Not really the issue.

There was a yoga instructor I posted about last week who sent out a homophobic email. When called on it he apologized and gave money to the It Gets Better Project, as if that's it, no one's allowed to complain anymore that their yoga instructor's a homophobe (or just puts his foot in his mouth, which he just might be able to do).

I thought your comments on Cleve Jones were right on the mark - and they do highlight the other problem with all this: Jones as the official spokesperson for All Things Milk. Which leads us to an equally great problem: the unqualified and uncritical view that Milk was practically a god who would have eschewed the HRC message. Who knows? Some indications are that he would have gone along.

Ultimately, we mistake queer people for queer history.

We also mistake mythology for queer history, and that's yet another story.

bigolpoofter | January 18, 2011 6:43 PM

Haven't the HRC boutiques across the country been called "Action Center and Store" just like the original location in DC? Keeping the "action center" label in play just doesn't give one hope.

I dont have much to say bout HRC but this would be a good home for the Trevor Project. The are a good group and would do the place proud.They have an information center on the Sim I live on in Second Lifedwon the street from my house. I have meet some of the folks who run the place good luck to them in this new project.