by Randy Shilts
St. Martin's Press
When Randy Shilts's The Mayor of Castro Street appeared in 1982, the very idea of a gay political biography was brand-new. While biographies of literary and artistic figures were a popular genre, there had been no openly gay political figure who merited a full-length book. Harvey Milk--a gay political organizer who became the first openly gay city supervisor in San Francisco and was then assassinated (along with liberal mayor George Moscone)--was the obvious choice for such a book.
And Randy Shilts--a young reporter who had risen up through the gay press to become the first openly gay reporter with a gay "beat" in the American mainstream press--was the perfect person to write it. The Mayor of Castro Street is focused on the narrative of Harvey Milk's political rise from running a small business on Castro Street, to organizing local gay men and lesbians around grass-roots issues, to winning an elected office. But in many ways this is also a forceful and engaging story of the gay rights movement in the second half of the 20th century. Thus, Shilts follows the growth of the Castro as a gay neighborhood and the growth of San Francisco's gay community from a ragtag collection of people who socialized and sexualized together into a vibrant and political force.
--Michael Bronski, Amazon.com Review