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Joe Campbell
(November 4, 1936 - 2005) U.S.A.

Joe Campbell 1955

Ex-lover of Harvey Milk


Joe Campbell found his homosexuality made him "a member of a small exclusive club, something [he] had over everybody else". Campbell had discovered his homosexuality at a young age, like Milk. Similar to most gays during that time, Campbell was not very proud of his homosexuality at first. In truth he could occasionally be heard saying " "I can't think of one homosexual who would not prefer to be a heterosexual if he had the choice". As a young boy he was often picked on and harassed by the other guys in his school "because he liked playing with the girls". Campbell was more attracted to the feminine lifestyle, sometimes even envious. Milk hated when Campbell looked upon his homosexuality as a burden. In fact, Campbell truly believed "it was his own fault that he got beat up, not society's," all because he was gay. Milk never bought into Campbell's theory, instead he sought out to do something about it. Milk was never the victim of a brutal beating as a result of his homosexuality, but his boyfriends were not exempted.

Joe Campbell and Harvey Milk at seaThe hot July sun of 1956 darted on Joe Campbell's mischievous dark eyes entrancing Harvey Milk, who lay near Campbell and his friends at the gay section of Riis Park Beach in Queens. With his thick dark hair combed back, except for the waterfall curl on his forehead, the nineteen-year-old Campbell looked a lot like James Dean, only more handsome, and Harvey couldn't take his eyes off him. Joe had at last found someone to take care of and protect him. Harvey Milk, twenty-six, found someone who needed him. 'It was a selection basically,' Joe Campbell said later. 'Harvey selected me and I was in the market to be selected.' That was how Joe and Harvey started what would be the longest relationship in either of their lives.
Joe Campbell, with whom Harvey lived for seven years, became part of the Andy Warhol crowd. The fey Campbell was known as the "Sugar Plum Fairy". That was him in Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side, "Sugar Plum Fairy came to hit the streets, looking for soul food and a place to eat. Went to the Apollo, should have seen him go, go, go...."

Campbell's trendy friends were amazed that Joe had spent nearly seven years with Milk. The staid businessman didn't seem enough - attractive enough, rich enough, and certainly not chic enough - to warrant the attentions of the dazzling Sugar Plum Fairy.

Joe Campbell 1955

These fan-tailed pigeons were a gift to Harvey Milk for Valentine's Day from Joe Campbell. The birds, assumed to be male and female, built a cozy love nest in a closet. Much to Harvey and Joe's amusement, it was later discovered that both birds were male.

Joe passed away from complications of AIDS which he fought courageously for many, many years.


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