Two Men and a Myth

Former Advocate publisher David B. Goodstein is portrayed as one of Harvey Milk’s political nemeses in Gus Van Sant’s new movie. Oftentimes imperious, Goodstein would seem perfectly cast in that role. But only in the movies does every white hat have a black counterpart.

BY Mark Thompson

October 22 2008 12:00 AM ET

I knew David B. Goodstein and Harvey Milk pretty well. I met Harvey in 1973, not long after he opened his little camera shop on Castro Street. He was charming, smart, and wildly ambitious, and I liked him at once. Just about everybody did. An uppity New Yorker, Harvey was part of the mass immigration of gay people to San Francisco at that time, a growing trend that would upset tidy apple carts all over town.

I met David two years later when he hired me to work for The Advocate right after I graduated from San Francisco State University. I was 23 years old, and David had just purchased the magazine from the original owner, Dick Michaels. He too was charming, smart, and wildly ambitious, and I liked him too. But the two men were destined to clash.

David had a mansion in the gated community of Hillsborough. He collected art and expensive show horses. Harvey had to buy a used suit to campaign in, wasn’t always sure about how he would pay the rent, and enjoyed kinky sex. In other words, there were in different worlds. What both men shared, however, aside from a robust sense of humor, was a need to contribute to the gay community.

Tags: film

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