Scott Smith (activist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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
Key West, Florida, U.S.
Died February 4, 1995(1995-02-04) (aged 46)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Known for Relationship with and campaign manager for Harvey Milk, LGBT rights activism

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.


Smith was born in Key West, Florida, and grew up in Jackson, Mississippi.[2] He then attended Memphis State University 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]

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]

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.[citation needed]

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][3]

Smith died of pneumonia,[2] possibly stemming from HIV/AIDS[4] on February 4, 1995 at the age of 46.[2]

Portrayal in popular culture[edit]

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. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Nick Dawson (November 25, 2008). "Where Are They Now?". Focus Features. Retrieved August 23, 2015.