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    Positive Resource Center to Honor SF Bay Times Photographer Rink


    Vito Russo (center), film critic and author of The Celluloid Closet, with photographer Rink (left) and Bern Boyle (right), founder of the San Francisco Gay Film Festival, at Russo’s NYC apartment in 1980.

    On October 1, Positive Resource Center will present the Emerson Community Volunteer Award to San Francisco Bay Times photographer Rink, who has been photographing our community for nearly five decades. The award will be presented at the Center’s “Windows of Opportunity” event, to be held at SPUR Urban Center on Mission Street. We hope to see you there, and that you will join us in congratulating Rink on this well-deserved honor.

    Our guess is that you know Rink, or at least have seen him around town. If you’ve been to a queer demonstration, street fair, film screening or nearly any LGBT event in San Francisco since the late 60’s, chances are you’ve seen, or perhaps have even had your picture taken by, Rink. He covers 10–15 events per week and 600 plus a year. If you do the math, considering the timeline of his efforts, he has literally chronicled tens of thousands of events! Often his photos are the only tangible reminders of these events. The photos, in a compelling and revealing way, therefore help to preserve our community and tell our story.

    Jonathan David Katz, who co-curated the Rink Foto photography show “San Francisco: The Making of a Queer Mecca” in New York City, described Rink as a photojournalist, “but as with others like Frank Capra, Dorothy Miller and the great Henri Cartier Bresson, the prosaic term ‘journalism’ does not do full justice to the work. Rink has the gift for being there at the right moment, not only to catch the action, but also to catch the image that is rich enough and dense enough to tell a complex story without words.”

    Rink’s inspiration sparked in the volatile late 60’s, with one particular day being a standout. On June 27, 1969, while celebrating his birthday at a party, Rink’s festivities were interrupted by news from Greenwich Village about the Stonewall Riot. Katz shared that, after getting caught up in the then-nascent LGBT political movement, “Rink turned his focus to the rich fabric of queer social life, chronicling San Francisco’s seismic self-transformation, the gradual and occasionally violent birthing of the San Francisco that we know today.”

    Rink held fundraisers for Harvey Milk’s early campaigns at the Savoy Tivoli in North Beach and at his 1870 Twin Peaks flat. Rink’s first show was in Milk’s Castro Camera windows in 1974. That storefront exhibition of June Parade photographs was the very first mirror of the newly Queer Castro.

    We agree with Katz that these are portraits of a particular time and a very particular place. “But they also,” as Katz wrote, “move effortlessly from the particular to the general, transforming into epics on universal themes like justice, love, equality, sexual desire, and aspirations for the future. Rink’s great subject has always been slow, difficult building of a better world, one in which if we are not yet able to live that betterment, we can at least see it fleetingly figured—a quiet utopianism populating the image of the everyday.”

    Rink additionally is an LGBT activist who, over the years, has supported the Gay Liberation Front, Bay Area Gay Liberation, Solidarity, Queer Nation, ACT UP and both the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, just to name a few. He has been with the San Francisco Bay Times since 1979, and his website has 260,000 plus viewers worldwide. As a friend and colleague, Rink has always been warm, supportive and the consummate professional. We are so glad that Positive Resource Center has chosen to honor Rink with its prestigious Emerson Community Volunteer Award. In this issue, we take a look back at some of Rink’s favorite photographs, sharing his own words about them.

    For more information about the Windows of Opportunity event and to buy tickets, please visit