Bil Browning

Trevor Project Opens Call-In Center on Milk Day

Filed By Bil Browning | May 23, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Anne Kronenberg, Harvey Milk Day, HRC, James Lecesne, San Francisco, Trevor Project

As Karen Ocamb previewed yesterday, the Trevor Project opened a new call-in center at the site of Harvey Milk's old camera shop. After HRC announced plans to rent the space and move their Castro store/action center to the location, several bloggers and local activists denounced the decision as completely against Harvey's grassroots style. As a compromise, HRC announced they would share with Trevor Project's suicide hotline staffers and yesterday the teen helpline officially opened the phone lines with fully trained staffers.

Projector Sean Chapin sends in this video montage featuring speeches from Harvey Milk's campaign manager Anne Kronenberg and The Trevor Project co-founder James Lecesne. It includes the ribbon-cutting ceremony and everyone singing happy birthday with Harvey looking down from above.

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From the Petrelis Files:

HRC MIA at Opening of SF Shop;
Union Angry Over Hyatt Rating

The Human Rights Campaign is so radioactive in San Francisco it was not mentioned once by any of the speakers at today's opening of the Trevor Project's hotline in the back of the HRC store on Castro Street.

At the 11 AM ceremony, the talk was exclusively on Harvey Milk and what was his camera shop, and the project. Every speaker studiously avoided saying the hotline is located in the HRC souvenir shop. The backdrop behind the lectern was from Trevor with their name and logo on a large plastic banner, that obscured the HRC tee shirts in the windows.

When project leaders announced they were ready to show the hotline off to the public, I thought a ribbon emblazoned with HRC's blue-and-gold equal symbol logo would be brought out and cut. A thick orange ribbon, with a bow tied in the middle, was placed in the hands of Trevor's leaders and they all smiled for the cameras, then tore the ribbon into pieces.

"Ha! Thank goodness you're not using an HRC ribbon. The gays would benefit if HRC went out of business today," I shouted. Behind me an HRC supporter hissed and said, "You're the only one who doesn't like HRC. It's a good group." My reply: "Sure, which is why they weren't thanked or mentioned once."

Neither Trevor nor HRC leaders have bothered to explain why a promised grand opening was scuttled with America's largest gay political advocacy organization. The Bay Area Reporter in January, with details from HRC, said this about what was supposed to take place today:

The HRC store and action center will open its doors Wednesday, January 19 to the public, but will not have its official opening celebration until closer to Harvey Milk Day, which is May 22 in California and coincides with Milk's birthday. ...

Why did every speaker at the Trevor opening omit HRC entirely? I can't imagine Trevor setting up a call center at Macy's, organizing an opening celebration and failing to mention Macy's. Omission of HRC's name at today's opening tells us how radioactive and un-supported this group is, at least on Castro Street.

After the opening, starting at 1 PM at the plaza located at Castro and 17th Street, a short rally was held to mark Harvey's birthday and about a third of the 60 folks were from the Unite Here union. The Harvey Milk Foundation was responsible for the rally and the keynote speaker was Harvey's nephew.

Under the auspices of their Sleep With the Right People campaign, the gay and straight labor folks were protesting both the Hyatt Corporation's poor treatment of its hotel workers, and HRC's 100% rating to the hotel chain on their dubious "Corporate Equality Index."

They paraded around the crowd with anti-Hyatt posters on sticks and handed out glossy fliers condemning HRC glowing rating for Hyatt, calling on folks to email HRC's top boss Joe Solmonese, with his addy printed on the flyer.

In the crowd was Fred Sainz, HRC's vice president for communications and marketing, smartly dressed in dark blue casual business attire and not sporting HRC's logo on his jacket's lapel.

Sainz didn't address either the Trevor opening or the rally. I wonder why he traveled from DC to be here this weekend, and stayed in the background at today's events, never identifying himself as a top HRC executive. Just another indication of how rocky HRC's reputation and agenda is in this town.

All in all, I say today was not a good day for HRC, and wish to point out that their web site omits details about today's events - at their own damn store!