Center for LGBTQ Studies (CLAGS)


Paul VanDeCarr

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2003


November 1978: a popular religious and civic leader from San Francisco named Jim Jones leads over 900 people—mostly African-Americans and many from San Francisco—to murder and suicide in a remote jungle community of Guyana called "Jonestown." Though far from San Francisco, the catastrophe strikes at the heart of the city's public life. Only nine days later, on November 27, ex-police officer and city Supervisor Dan White enters San Francisco City Hall and assassinates Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. These two events—which devastated San Francisco's African-American and gay communities—formed a defining moment in the city's turbulent and ongoing attempt to make itself a beacon of social, political, and sexual freedom.


This article was originally published in CLAGSNews, vol. 13, no. 2.



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