Are you looking for a choice local political outlet in which to stick your civic-minded sense of duty? Well, look no more. Tonight the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club -- splinter group, if you will, of the Alice B. Toklas Club -- hosts their annual dinner/fundraiser in the Mission. (Think of them as the scrappy but cool National Merit kids compared to the preppies on ASU.)
SFist asked HMDC President Tom Temprano (owner Virgil's Sea Room, DJ Carnita) to tell us why you should go to tonight's dinner/fete, what you should expect if you go, and what's the damn difference between the two local gay wonk groups.
SFist: As you see it, can you tell me the difference between the Harvey Milk Club LBGT Democratic and the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club? Both are queer-based in SF. Further, do these groups ever work together?
Tom Temprano: There are an abundance of different perspectives on this so I profess to speak for nobody but myself but the existence of the two clubs parallels the two different approaches, or factions if you prefer, amongst our city's democratic party -- progressive and moderate. The Milk Club was actually started when a group of progressive queer activists within Alice recognized this divide and saw the need for a queer democratic club that reflected their values. As with many battles in this City, our two clubs are often divided on legislation and candidates based around issues of economic justice and access to resources -- the Milk Club has always stood strongly with tenants groups and remained solidly progressive on economic issues.
That said, in recent years our club's leadership teams have worked to forge a common agenda when possible because we believe that the joint advocacy of both club's sends a powerful message around issues that we agree on. This year and last year we came together to successfully urge the Mayor to use city money to offset the Federal cuts to HIV/AIDS services. We also held a joint meeting on queer nightlife issues and have a planned joint meeting on drug policy scheduled for this fall.
SFist: What can we expect from tonight's gayla?
TT: So many exciting things! A major portion of our annual gala is dedicated to awarding those who have made contributions to our communities' past and are working toward a progressive vision for its future. This year's awardees run the gammut from elected officials like Senator Leland Yee to the original Screaming Queen Felicia Flames to Private Bradley Manning. We are also introducing a new award in honor of one of our recently passed members, Howard Wallace, for leadership within the labor movement.
In addition to the awards we will be hearing a keynote speak from Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal activist, Lt. Dan Choi, catching a live performance of the (ironically gone viral) anti-gentrification hit "Google Google Apps Apps" by Persia and Daddies Plastik. Also, we'll dine on food care of graduates of La Cocina.
All in all definitely more of a dress-nice-and-rub-elbows event than I usually produce but it's the Milk Club so we will be keeping it fun and full of fire.
SFist: Can you tells us about your tenure as president at HMC?
TT: I was elected President in January and in the past half a year the Milk Club has been thrust into what feels like an all-out fight for the future of our city. We have stood with the workers at BART, at City College, and Larkin Street Youth Services. We are honoring Bradley Manning at our dinner AND marched in solidarity with him, as did hundreds and hundreds of people in the Pride Parade to declare that he was and is our grand marshal. We have brought attention to housing and rent issues, to LGBT elder issues through the Grayson Conference, and to the need for the city to fund HIV services. We enthusiastically campaigned to get SFO named after Harvey Milk himself and are still working to get a street named for Vicki Marlane. It’s been a busy year and we’re only half way through it!
SFist: And finally, anything else?
TT: Tickets are still available for the dinner for those who want to support the important work that the club does. Buy one.
The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club's Annual Dinner and Gayla
7 PM to 10 PM
Roccapulco Supper Club: 3140 Mission (at Precita) S.F.
Individual tickets: $40-$80