Scott Smith (activist)

Joseph Scott Smith (October 21, 1948 — February 4, 1995)[1] was a gay rights activist best known for his romantic relationship with Harvey Milk, for whom he was a campaign manager.

Scott Smith
Scott Smith pushing shopping cart with Castro Camera signs at Gay Freedom Day Parade.jpg
Scott Smith pushing shopping cart with Castro Camera signs at Gay Freedom Day Parade, 1976
Born(1948-10-21)October 21, 1948
DiedFebruary 4, 1995(1995-02-04) (aged 46)
Known forRelationship with and campaign manager for Harvey Milk, LGBT rights activism


Smith was born in Key West, Florida, and grew up in Jackson, Mississippi.[2] He then attended Memphis State University for three years before moving to New York City in 1969,[2] where he met Harvey Milk, moving with him to San Francisco three years later,[2] where the couple founded Castro Camera.[2] Harvey Milk and Scott Smith were engaged in a romantic relationship for 7 years.

Scott Smith at 575 Castro Street photographed by Harvey Milk, 1973

Smith was instrumental to Milk's career as an activist and politician. He organized and managed Milk's campaigns for public office from 1974 to 1977 and his influence was widely in evidence after Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Smith was well known for orchestrating the Coors Beer boycott and putting Milk at the forefront of the issue, creating one of the first public displays of power by the gay community.[citation needed] Milk was responsible for uniting gay establishments against Coors by refusing to sell Coors products. He also led a public dumping of Coors beers in the middle of the streets.[3]

There are hundreds of images of Smith, taken by Milk and others, in the Harvey Milk Archives/Scott Smith Collection at the San Francisco Public Library. After being discharged from the United States Navy, Milk spent many hours taking pictures. Smith was his favorite model; sometimes Milk spent entire rolls of film just taking pictures of Smith.[4] Smith's friends and family nicknamed him "The Widow Milk" because of the dedication he had to archiving Harvey Milk's photos and belongings.[5]

Smith fell into a very deep depression after Milk was killed. With Frank M. Robinson,[2] he was the executor of Milk's last will and testament.[2][6]

Smith died of pneumonia,[2] resulting from HIV/AIDS[7] on February 4, 1995 at the age of 46.[2] Family and friends of Scott Smith want his life to be honored by donating to his favorite charities; the Salvation Army, San Franciscos AIDS Foundation and the Women's Cancer Resource Center in Oakland.[8]

Portrayal in popular cultureEdit

In the 2008 feature film Milk, the role of Scott Smith was played by James Franco.


  1. ^ Rootsweb Social Security Death Index search for Joseph S Smith. Retrieved on 25 February 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Scott Smith — Harvey Milk Friend". SFGate. February 7, 1995.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Staff, Liberation (2015-07-29). "The Coors Boycott: The LGBTQ movement and people's..." Liberation News. Retrieved 2019-10-20.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Randy Shilts (1982). The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-3125-2331-2.
  7. ^ Nick Dawson (November 25, 2008). "Where Are They Now?". Focus Features. Retrieved August 23, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^