Dan White Remembered

The new hit movie "Milk" chronicles the life and death of Harvey Milk, the pioneering gay civil rights activist who was shot dead by Irish American Dan White in 1978. One of the more interesting aspects of the case was the Irish/gay standoff, which Tom Deignan refers to in his column in this newspaper. Around that time your columnist was editor of an Irish newspaper in San Francisco and frequently received communications from Dan White after he was put away for five years after the ridiculous "Twinkie" defense worked. Essentially he convinced the jury that he had eaten too many Twinkies which forced a rush of blood to his head, which was why he assassinated Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone after they had refused to allow him to withdraw his resignation as a San Francisco city supervisor. After the slaying some San Francisco cops allegedly played "Danny Boy" over their radios, and there was covert but real support for White's actions. In prison he grew very close to an Irish priest who counseled him to seek forgiveness from the gay community. He even offered an interview to my newspaper at the time but it fell through. White never did apologize and later shot himself, a troubled, deeply conflicted man whose Irish heritage was a huge part of his life.

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