Gorilla Meets | Daniel Nicoletta

Pride season is upon us, the rainbow flags have been unfurled and feelings of support and positivity is electric in the air.

Cities all over the world will be celebrating the diversity our community provides and remembering those who came before us, paving the way in hope for a world where all are welcome.

The late 60’s and early 70’s saw an increase in LGBT activism, with Marsha P Johnson fighting back against police brutality, Ian McKellen petitioning against the Industrial Relations Bill and Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician elected to California public office.

Harvey Milk’s campaigning and protesting against LGBT oppression became iconic due to his persistence, determination and campaign team. Documenting Harvey's fight for City Supervisor was photojournalist Daniel Nicoletta, who captured everything from his first speeches to the White Night Riots following Harvey’s assassination by Dan White.

We caught up with Daniel to open a discussion on the importance of capturing the moment, his time with Harvey and oppression LGBT people are facing in 2017.


What do you think is the most significant achievement of the LGBT community?

Potentiating more widespread compassion for “otherness”. It's the secret to coalition building.

Why do you think photography has played such a vital role in LGBT liberation?

Photography is an adept tool for fostering conversations about anything. It has the capability of rendering something as more "mappable" mechanically as well as emotionally. 

Your book LGBT San Francisco - The Daniel Nicoletta Photographs is a continuous document of the LGBT community and features a lot of images from the 1970’s. Looking back now, how has your career and practice changed over time?

I now would not have the patience to discard the advances of digital tools such as Lightroom and InDesign. If my trajectory has taught me one lesson, it is to never let the absence of a set of resources halt your progress.

What is your most memorable moment from your time with Harvey Milk?

Harvey always had a smile and moment for those he endeared. I remember in the middle of roaring applause at a giant drag ball (after he was elected) he paused on the runway and looked at me as if to say..." look at us now - we did it" that moment is burned into my mind's eye...

And finally, if you could offer advice to those in our community who are observing the persecution happening all over the world, what would it be?

Fight in whatever way is safest and that is unique to you. It's not for me to tell you how that should be. If you can't be on the front lines, give money or time to those who are. If you succumb to apathy or anaesthetisation, move through it as quickly as possible to the manageable action.


Photography provided by Daniel Nicoletta
Header image: Castro Street Fair, August 1976

Potentiating more widespread compassion for “otherness”. It's the secret to coalition building.

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