LEE MENTLEY         

LIFELONG ACTIVIST

Lee Mentley has fought for LGBTQ rights for close to 50 years. His initial impact was made when he founded The Top Floor Gallery at 330 Grove, an early "Gay Center" in San Francisco. 330 Grove served as a safe space for the gay community, a place where Angels of Light, poets, artists, politicians and everyone in between came together. 

Lee Mentley’s entire creative and professional career has been based on his community activism:

  • The first openly gay city employee at the Neighborhood Arts Program with the San Francisco Arts Commission

  • One of the founders of the Castro Street Fair 

  • An original chair on the San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade Committee

  • A chair on the Executive Committee of The Pride Foundation 

  • Hawaii State Public Health Director, HIV/AIDS Kauai-Division

  • Member of the National Community Constituency Group at National Institutes of Health for HIV/AIDS Research 

  • A Kauai Representative to Hawaii Statewide Committee for same-sex marriage

  • The curator for AIDS History at ONE Archive
     

Lee Mentley, 330 Grove, First Gay Center in San Francisco, Mink Stole, John Water, Angels of Light,
Lee Mentley Poetry, The Princess of Castro Street, Angels of Light, Cocketes, August Gus Bernadicou

THE FOLLOWING POETRY IS UNPUBLISHED FROM THE 1970S

Definition of a Trick
Two People
Together
In Need
But Never
Each Other

The Debate
Is it I
Who
Seeks
Betrayal
Is it You
Who Seeks
Love?

Destination
I want to be
Somewhere
Where a lover
Is not a place
That’s a spirit
I feel the need 
To make
Or brake
 

Men
Something to trigger my anger
No man to pat my back
I reach for my pen
Hoping it could be more
Than my fist through the wall
Or a dead pet
Where is he now
This overblown man of mine
Where is this fruitless fruit?

The Castro Street Cruise 
I see you
You see me
We see each other
And how we can be
Go over there
See that
Going to the store
Gotta get there
I’m over here
You’re over there
Can you see me
I see you here
 


Castro Street End
Where Business Persons
Wash sidewalks
In morning suits
To cover up the
Last night smell
Of crisco, booze & amyl
To stalk
Exploitation of human need
Into fashionable commodity