From the Vault: The Gay Movment 1969 – 1979

This week we look at the dawn of the modern Gay Movement following the Stonewall Riots in 1969 through the tumultuous decade that followed, ending with the killing of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and the White Riots that followed.

This week on From the Vault, we’ll listen to the dawn of the modern Gay Movement in the decade following the 1969 Stonewall Riots. First is a selection from Pacifica Radio’s 1979 Gay Day broadcast, which begins by revisiting Pacifica’s coverage of the 1969 Stonewall Inn police raids in New York, and the Stonewall Riots that followed. Then in 1978 Harvey Milk became the first openly gay male elected into public office, we’ll hear IMRU Radio’s Greg Gordon interview with the newly-sworn-in member of the city’s Board of Supervisors. Months later, Milk would be a featured speaker at the Gay Day festivities in Los Angeles, dutifully reported by KPFK in Los Angeles. Milk’s election to office and populist style brought new hope to the Gay Rights Movement. However, on November 27, 1978, Milk was shot dead along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone by Dan White, a former San Francisco Supervisor himself. In the trial that followed, White’s lawyers developed the Twinkies Defense, by which they claimed White was a victim of diminished capacity caused by the harmful effects of consuming junk food and soda. The jury agreed, and White was acquitted of murder, instead being found guilty on a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. Pacifica Radio’s Fruit Punch Collective was there to record the outrage following verdict, including the demonstrations that erupted in San Francisco, as police officers made their way in to prominently gay Castro District and incited what is now known as the White Night Riots of 1979.

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