Etherley, Derrald: Moscone's forgotten successes


Derrald Etherley: First of all George Moscone brought folks together too. We have to remember he passed the first statewide gay rights legislation. That was George Moscone, and to this day we still don’t celebrate that for some strange reason. He was the first in the country. I think they drafted George to run; Phil Burton and Dave Jenkins and Willie was a youngster at that time and John Burton, Jack Morrison, Agar Jaicks, Jane Morrison, Sue Bierman; all them folks. They had been teamed up for years, and they basically drafted him because he had the unique idea of sponsoring that legislation which they [had] seen the gay community growing, and knew it was going to be a very powerful block. They already assumed they already had the African-American’s in [ ]. They already assumed that. In the beginning of that campaign George was very, very sad, and a lot of people don’t realize that when George decided to take on the request to run for mayor he had to start all over again. It was like everything he had done for Gays and other folks forgot about. Imma give you a classic example. I was [ ] campaign manager for George Moscone and I was young then. I was I guess 19 or 20, somewhere in there. The reason why I was hired was because they had heard about me, and I was introduced to Don Bradley who became my teacher and Don Bradley had me go through Willie Brown. Headquarters was at 54 Mint Street and we were walking down that alley, and Willie says “I don’t know anything about you. You’ve never been a part of my clique.” Most of his clique was in Fillmore. “But I like you because people say a lot of things about you, and they’re not good. If people are talking bad about you, you must be doing something.” So I was hired to be on as a [ ] campaign manager. I will not let them pigeonhole me into one community. John and George respected that. You weren’t going to pigeonhole me just in Hunter’s Point. If I was going to work for you, I was going to be part of setting up the office, I was gonna be able to hire people to help run the office, order the materials, show them how to organize, and then you talk [ ] outreach and what not. When it came to outreach, my outreach – I keep saying “my” and “I”, but that’s what it’s all about right now – extended to all the communities: the Jewish, Russian, Japanese, Black. All those individual pockets, and I still have relationships in all those communities believe it or not. George had to start all over again. An example was at the [Del Webb] Townhouse as I started to mention before, I didn’t know what gay rights was at that time. I didn’t know what gay was at that time. I knew it what they called homosexuals at that time. There was a backroom at the [Del Webb] Townhouse, I was with George and we went to meet with the gay community. All the gay leadership at that time was there. You remember Jim Foster? He was a prominent member of the gay community. George went back there and I was with him, and they drilled him like they never knew him before. I mean they really drilled him, and it really hurt him because they forgot so soon that he fought to pass the first gay rights legislation up at the state. That was his trademark. After we got through meeting with the gay community – because remember Jim Foster could call them all together at that time – George and I went back to the bar and he just broke down crying. He said “I don’t understand why they’re treating me like this because I was the first person that did this, and I’ve been open about everything, and I went in that room it was like being around a bunch of strangers.” That is what George had to face throughout that whole campaign with certain pockets of people. He had to start all over again. The people who really, really made that campaign was people who wasn’t into the political loop. People who loved him because he was George. There was something rough about George too whereas he would take on the underdog before he would take those who have, and he would do it publicly and he would do whatever means necessary to get it done. That’s why he was able to pull a [groundswell] of people to march him into victory, but it wasn’t easy for George at all.


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The Moscone oral history interviews are part of the George Moscone Collection, MSS 328.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives, University of the Pacific Library

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