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37 years since the assassination of Harvey Milk

Today marks 37 years since the assignation of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone at City Hall in San Francisco.
These photos are from the annual Harvey Milk Annual Candlelight March from Castro Street to City Hall, around 1990, not positive of the year.

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In pouring down rain, November 27, 1998, Harry Britt honoring Harvey Milk at the 20th Annual Candlelight March.

Palm Springs Pride 2015

Palm Springs has its Pride Parade in November, when the weather is absolutely beautiful.
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June 2015 will be 45 years of Pride

Trevor Hailey

“If we don’t write our own history, someone else will and we won’t like what they had to say.”
Trevor Hailey, the late Castro Street Historian

June is upon us and it’s Pride month; but I believe we celebrate our unique presence in the world everyday, Pride is also about history, I remember those early years the first “Gay” parade I marched in 1970, we marched unceremoniously through San Francisco’s Tenderloin (don’t remember the street) and down Polk St. many people on the street cheering, many booing at us and yelling “Queer” and “Faggot.” I’ve been a witness to our history and I’m a tired old queen now, but here we are 45 years later, I never thought I’d see the day of our realizing equality and acceptance.

The accomplishments of our struggles have spread throughout the world, making life easier for younger generations. However, our worldly acceptance comes at a price; LGBTQ culture is being assimilated and we are becoming too mainstream, so beware of the anti-gay backlash from those that hate us, you know who they are, they would not hesitate to take away our civil rights given the chance. As part of the defense in protecting our hard won struggle for equality, it’s important to celebrate our culture, keeping it alive and documenting our LGBTQ Heritage through; historical preservation, photography, art, literature, performance, film, political activism, government involvement and voting.

Preserving our history is probably the most valuable cultural asset we have.

Early Pride photos, 1980.

Happy Pride.

Honoring Harvey Milk’s Birthday – a tribute by Harry Britt

Harry Britt’s poignant words remembering Harvey Milk on a rainy night in The Castro during the 20th Candlelight Vigil, November 28, 1998.

Looking Back 2004 & 2005 images from The Castro

Reflecting back 10 years I found an assortment of photos that really depict The Castro. The photos speak for themselves: some from Folsom St, Dore Alley, Pink Saturday, The Twin Peaks and various street shots.

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Twin Peaks Bar, we were so disappointed at the election results that year.



 

Armistead Maupin & Chris Turner at Burning Man

Armistead Maupin and Chris Turner

Armistead Maupin

The brilliant writing of Armistead Maupin, is beautifully woven into the fabric of LGBTQ culture and history.  Those wonderful characters portrayed in his many books are fascinating and so easy to relate to. During Burning Man 2013 we had the great pleasure of joining the crowd listening to Armistead reading from the manuscript of his upcoming novel, “The Days of Anna Madrigal.”  It’s a must read, especially if you are a fan of Tales of The City, a “Burner” or witness of LGBTQ history. Also had the pleasure of shooting a candid portrait of Armistead and his partner Chris Turner at the Celestial Bodies bar at Burning Man.

Honoring Jimmy Langham at sea

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The Gallery has been edited 3-24-2015 [click here]

Jimmy Dale Langham

March 22, 1962 – October 24, 2014

In remembrance of Jimmy, Donald Ferguson, his partner, hosted a gathering of family and many friends from all over the country, March 22, 2015, in San Francisco for one last time to honor Jimmy and spread his ashes at sea near the Golden Gate Bridge.

“Jimmy” never a James was born in Mississippi, but considered New Orleans as his home.  As a young man he worked his way through college to receive a degree in Advertising and Design, and moved to New Orleans where he worked as a Graphic Artist for several years until he met his long time partner and spouse Donald Ferguson.  Jimmy and Donald moved together to New York City where they spent ten years.  Jimmy was the chief Graphics Designer for Donald’s Public Relations firm, Geduldig and Ferguson.  When that firm merged with a global PR firm in 2004, Jimmy and Donald were relocated to San Francisco for four years, then “retired” to Palm Springs, CA. in 2008.  They kept a second home in New Orleans until after Katrina, but have made multiple visits yearly to Jimmy’s favorite place. Jimmy and Donald were together for 23 years, legally marrying November 1, 2008.  Jimmy is survived by his loving partner and spouse Donald, his mother Mary Lou Hughes, his older sister Pam (David) Walker and younger sister Donna Hays.  He has three nephews, Donovan and Christopher Hays and Tyler Langham, and a niece Madison Olivia Cliburn.  He is also survived by all of the members of the Ferguson family who embraced him fully, and his many Palm Springs friends and friends throughout the country.

Jimmy loved to party and loved life and friends!  His favorite quote was:

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.

May he Rest in Peace.

Jimmy Langham Celebration of Life

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Celebration of Life for Jimmy Dale Langham.
Palm Springs, CA. Tuesday, December 30, 2014.

Jimmy Dale Langham

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Jimmy Dale Langham

March 22, 1962 – October 24, 2014

A Celebration of Life for Jimmy Dale Langham, was held in Palm Springs, CA. Tuesday, December 30, below is a link to the slide show of photos from Jimmy’s life, compiled by Palm Springs photographer,  Eddie Fleming.

“Jimmy” never a James was born in Mississippi, but considered New Orleans as his home.  As a young man he worked his way through college to receive a degree in Advertising and Design, and moved to New Orleans where he worked as a Graphic Artist for several years until he met his long time partner and spouse Donald Ferguson.  Jimmy and Donald moved together to New York City where they spent ten years.  Jimmy was the chief Graphics Designer for Donald’s Public Relations firm, Geduldig and Ferguson.  When that firm merged with a global PR firm in 2004, Jimmy and Donald were relocated to San Francisco for four years, then “retired” to Palm Springs, CA. in 2008.  They kept a second home in New Orleans until after Katrina, but have made multiple visits yearly to Jimmy’s favorite place. Jimmy and Donald were together for 23 years, legally marrying November 1, 2008.  Jimmy is survived by his loving partner and spouse Donald, his mother Mary Lou Hughes, his older sister Pam (David) Walker and younger sister Donna Hays.  He has three nephews, Donovan and Christopher Hays and Tyler Langham, and a niece Madison Olivia Cliburn.  He is also survived by all of the members of the Ferguson family who embraced him fully, and his many Palm Springs friends and friends throughout the country.

Jimmy loved to party and loved life and friends!  His favorite quote was:

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.

May he Rest in Peace.

Gender Performance and Drag

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Gender Performance and Drag

The celebrated philosopher Judith Butler rejects both the notion that gender is an essential characteristic of persons and the claim that sex determines ones gender. “Sex” refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. “Gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. Many assume that sex determines gender, that the sex one is assigned at birth determines his/her behaviors, traits, interests, and career throughout life. This assumption fails to notice that the expectations for “women” vary from Hollywood, California, to the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, i.e. a Hollywood fashion model would be seen as odd in Vicksburg, Kentucky, and a mountain woman, wearing Brogan boots to hoe the fields would be seen as odd on Rodeo Drive, or maybe not so much any longer. According to Judith Butler, gender is a performance, it is something each of us does on a daily basis; everyone does drag every day, blending mixtures of masculinity and femininity. Not only are the images in these photos in drag, but the viewers attending this gallery exhibit are also in gender drag, i.e. performing male or female in the way that they decorate their bodies, move as they walk and carry their books and supplies.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer History have been one long challenge to the notion that sex determines gender. Indeed, gender stereotypes make sense only within a heteronormative/heterosexist society. Amusement is apparent on the faces of two moms, a lesbian couple, when someone asks them who will teach their son how to build a tree house or work on cars. Gay dads wear the same expression when someone asks them who will teach their daughter how to be a woman: heterosexuality is assumed normal in order for these questions to make sense. Lesbians, gay men, bisexual persons and transgendered individuals negotiate gender traits on their own terms. LGBT lives break the gender binary and make freedom from gender stereotypes possible for all persons.

Ron Williams’ images capture gender as performance. From frivolous to somber, confrontational to campy, the individuals captured in these photos refuse to be reduced to a spectacle for the viewer to catalog or label. These images may be received by some as celebratory and others as challenging, but they are each undeniably and richly human. If the images provoke feelings on the part of the viewer, that may say more about the viewer him/her/hierself* than it does about the image. I know that, as a 52 year-old gay man, these images in the Ridley Gallery, on the Rocklin campus, in Placer County, make me feel at home and at peace. These are my sisters and brothers, the Hogwarts family that I discovered onlyafter I left the family that physically birthed me. Both families gave me life.

Johnnie Terry/LGBT Studies and Philosophy Professor

*Hier or Zie is a non-gendered pronoun used to refer to individuals who reject the gender binary.

 

Genderally Speaking – gender expression photo exhibit – Sierra College

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A Sierra College student critique of “Genderally Speaking.”

“The pictures exhibited by Ron Williams were so unique and definitely not something that you see everyday. In his picture you could see how full of life these men and women were and how confident they were in themselves, something many of us strive for. It was beautiful to see picture full of smiles, colors, and confidence especially when these men and women face so much prejudice and discrimination based on societies narrow definition of normal. The makeup and the clothing were so extravagant and colorful that it automatically made you happy and made you question your own wardrobe, haha. I think there’s truly something to be said about being so unapologetically yourself and knowing whom you are and being comfortable with that. And I appreciate the photographers quote-

“Whether it’s masculine or feminine, I believe people passionate about their gender expression, in radical and creative ways, are the bravest of souls”.

Gender expression is an important part of our lives and to see someone basically flipping society on it’s head and saying screw it, I’ll do what I want is really inspiring and hopefully will be influential in loosening the boundaries we put on men and women to conform to the rules of gender. My favorite picture was a close up on a male in drag and the little smirk and fierceness in his eyes emitted so much confidence that for a few seconds I felt encouraged and confident myself. Drag queens could really teach society a thing or two about confidence and self-expression in a time where self acceptance is a rare virtue and many men and women feel pressure to look like one another. It makes me happy to know that we are no longer in a time where a school is sued for an exhibit like this one and where we are educating people about LGBT culture and the impact it has had on our society that we often will ignore.

Remembering the 1997 Castro Street Fair

1997 Castro Street Fair

A look back to the 1997 Castro St Fair. Things were much different then, these 35mm photos show some of the culture that has disappeared as time marches on.

A look back- Castro Street Fair 1995

Castro Street Fair 1995

Castro St Fair 1995

Here are a few photos from the Castro Street Fair, scanned from film, I believe there may be a few images mixed in from Easter earlier that year. The negs and slides were all mixed up, any comments or additional information always appreciated.

2006 – Empress José Sarria street dedication ceremony

This month marks the anniversary of Empress José Sarria passing, August 19, 2013. José is our revered champion of LGBTQ political activism and civil rights. On May 27, 2006, in The Castro, on 16th Street & Pond in front of the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library was dedicated as José Sarria Court. I had the pleasure of attending that ceremony and wanted to share some of my photos of that historic event.

Twin Peaks 1987 images from Rick Stevens Collection

Photos by Rick Stevens

A collection of photos from the Twin Peaks in San Francisco’s Castro District, the “Peaks” Twin Peaks in one of the original gay bars from the early 70s that still exists today.

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2006 – Twin Peaks in The Castro

A gallery of fascinating images from the Twin Peaks Tavern in The Castro; including a birthday dinner at the the Sausage Factory and cocktail parties at customers’ homes. It was all one big family.  And and Liz the cocktail waitress, her retirement party. Enjoy. Click here for the 2006 Twin Peaks Gallery.

Gladys Bumps.

Gladys Bumps.

2005 at the Twin Peaks Tavern

On a daily basis the Twin Peaks had its regulars that showed like clock work during cocktail hour, every day of the week, it was a big family, in a one big living room. Groups of friends from the “Peaks” would host dinners, parities at their homes and local restaurants in The Castro.  I’ve included photos from some of those events outside the Twin Peaks.

Liz the cocktail waitress was like our mother, she would joke, giggle and kid around with everyone, I think she has a much fun as we did.  Liz had an amazing personality with so much energy, she handled the crowded bar providing drinks to all the packed tables, she knew everyones name and what they drank, she was a professional. Please click on the photo for the 2005 gallery. Enjoy!

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2004 – Twin Peaks

The Twin Peaks tavern in The Castro, was one of the original Castro gay bars still operating today, originally opened in 1971 by Lesbian business woman Charlotte Coleman.  The Peaks has many affectionate names since it has been a popular hangout for older gay man and their younger admirers, The Wrinkle Room, The Glass Coffin, God’s Waiting Room and I sure I’ve forgotten many others.  It’s still one of the only bars in The Castro where you can sit at a table, party and enjoy cocktails with your friends. I have taken 100s of photos over the years, this is a first in a series of those photos starting from 2004.  Click the photo for the 2004 gallery. Enjoy!

Twin Peaks 2004

1980 – Gay Freedom Parade

Latent for 30 years.

These images from this film sat in a box undeveloped for 30 years, I thought I had lost them going through an old box of fun stuff I been keeping all these years.  I went to a film rescue lab and they were able to develop these latent images.  I shot these on Market St. near Sansome St and Montgomery St.

Enjoy,

Ron Williams

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1998 – Matthew Shepard – Memorial and Protest

Matthew Shepard expressions of sympathy at 18th and Castro.

Matthew Shepard expressions of sympathy at 18th and Castro.

Matthew Shepard was brutally attacked on Oct 6, 1998 and he died on Oct 12, 1998 from the deadly injuries inflicted upon him.  The Castro was in a state of shock, there was a street protest, a candlelight vigil and community expressions of sympathy and outrage on the corner of 18th and Castro.  These photos reflect the hurt everyone felt by this hateful act.