Scott Smith (activist)

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

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

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. He was the executor of Milk's last will and testament.[3]

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

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. ^ "Scott Smith -- Harvey Milk Friend", SF Gate, 1995-02-07 
  3. ^ Shilts, Randy (1982), The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, St. Martin's Press 
  4. ^ "Scott Smith -- Harvey Milk Friend", SF Gate, 1995-02-07