Have you ever heard of Castro Street? Di Castro Room? Harvey Milk tells you something? How much do you know about the first LGBT neighborhood in the United States and San Francisco in 1974?
If the answer is “nothing,” you will need to get “LGBT: San Francisco” published by the publisher Reel Art Press. The book tells, through photographs by Daniel Nicoletta, the story of those who first claimed 40 years ago the rights of homosexuals.
Nicoletta was only 19 years old in 1974, but managed to photograph and document the historic moment Castro began to transform into the first LGBT neighborhood in the United States. It’s not just a photo book because Nicoletta is the man who documented Harvey Milk’s fight during the municipal
Nicoletta is the author of many of the famous man’s shots that he described as his mentor and gay parent. To be clear, the famous picture of Harvey Milk smiling, with his tie in the wind was taken from him. Photography which was later used in 2014 by the United States Postal Service to create the commemorative stamp dedicated to Milk.
For the Guardian, the book is obviously a celebratory work, a way to recall the recent victories of the LGBT community and how their keeping is still fragile. But it is also a spur to activism: “The message of the book is that people should not give up hope,” Nicoletta says. “And the way to manifest hope is to take action.”
Nicoletta’s favorite photo depicts Milk dressed as a clown on May 21, 1978, six months before he was killed. In this shot, the photographer says, “Harvey was being the man that he always was and I got the lucky shot. It’s my gift from Harvey.”
Nicoletta was there, immersed in grief and anger after the assassination of Milk by Dan White hand, another alderman of the city, a year after his election. If you’ve seen “Milk” the 2008 movie, played by Sean Penn and directed by Gus Van Sant, you know what I’m talking about. From that day Nicolletta has continued to focus his lens to his community.
Today Castro Street has changed a lot, the neighborhood has become a ghetto, but as Nicoletta explained, “For a young gay kid getting off the bus from Newark, it could still be magnificent. And young people are galvanising in San Francisco again. The city is relentless. It’s not going to
Nicoletta has also changed. It is no longer “in the front line” to document LGBT life. “I just shot the Mermaid Parade in New York and killed me,” the photographer explains. “My back is on fire today.” Three years ago, he left San Francisco for rural Oregon and what he describes as a “monastic life” with his long-term partner.
Will you ask what he is shooting now? “Well, you can not hide from your story,” she told the Guardian, explaining: “The queer rural community has found me. I recently photographed a queer forestry camp and it was one of the best days of my life.”