Celebrate Pride Month with a Look Back at San Francisco’s LGBT Scene in All Its Harvey Milk-Era Glory

Harmodius and Hoti, Castro Street Fair August, 1975
Daniel Nicoletta

Before he became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the world, Harvey Milk owned a camera store in the Castro District of San Francisco, which is exactly where he employed a then 20-year-old Daniel Nicoletta—and often obligingly posed for the young photographer’s camera. Milk was murdered three years later, but that didn’t dissuade Nicoletta from continuing to chronicle the LGBT civil rights movement for the next four decades—so extensively so that the director Gus Van Sant called Nicoletta’s portraits of ’70s and ’80s San Francisco a “vital resource” in making Milk, his Academy Award-nominated 2008 biopic on the city’s one-time supervisor starring Sean Penn. Now, along with a foreword from Van Sant, Nicoletta’s photos can be seen in full in LGBT: San Francisco, a collection out next month by Reel Art Press that stretches from the afternoon in 1978 when Milk spent dressed as a clown to the present. Take a look back just in time for Pride Month, plus San Francisco’s upcoming Pride Parade, here.


Harmodius and Hoti at the Castro Street Fair, August 1975.


Harvey Milk in front of his Castro Street Camera Store, ca. 1977.


Castro Street Fair, featuring a moving art piece by Violet Ray, August 1982.


Club Chaos and Klubstitute float in the SFLGBT Pride Parade, June 1989.


Castro Street Fair, ca. 1976.


SFLGBT Pride Parade, June 1990.


Scout on Castro Street, June 2015.


Anne Kronenberg driving newly elected supervisor Harvey Milk in the SFLGBT Pride parade, June 1978.


Castro Street on Harvey Milk’s birthday, the day after the White Night riots, May 1979.


Harvey Milk as a Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey clown for a day, May 1978.


Harvey Milk for Supervisor campaign volunteers , including Harry Britt, Carol Carolson, and Harvey Milk, greeting morning commuters, 1976.


Robert Morgan as David Hockney, June 1982.


Leon Lott, December Wright, and Larry Williams at the Castro Street Fair, August 1976.


Blonde Sin’s Doris Fish, June 1980.


Halloween on Polk Street, October 1976.


Peppe Olvadez at the Castro Street Fair, August 1977.