The Wayne Friday collection documents San Francisco-based columnist, district attorney investigator, and police commissioner
Wayne Friday. The bulk of the collection ranges from the late 1960s to the mid-2010s and arranged in two series: photographic
and manuscript materials, and personal artifacts.
Wayne Friday (1936-2016) was a gay rights pioneer and active in the San Francisco gay and political communities from the 1970s
until his death in 2016. He was a political organizer, columnist, city investigator, and police commissioner. He served a
term as vice-president and two terms as president for the Tavern Guild, a San Francisco business association of gay bars and
liquor wholesalers. Friday was also a columnist for the Bay Area Reporter (B.A.R.) newspaper for over 26 years and was inducted
into the Cable Car Awards Hall of Honor. He was close friends with both Harvey Milk and Bob Ross, co-founder of the B.A.R.
Friday also worked as a San Francisco District Attorney’s Office Criminal Investigator for over a decade and served on the
San Francisco Police Commission under both Mayors Jordon and Brown. Friday was a self-described “political junkie” and key
figure during the LGBT community’s rise to political power in San Francisco.
Friday was born November 26, 1936 in Flint, Michigan. At 18 he enlisted in the Navy, and at age 21 moved to New York and began
working for a Wall Street brokerage firm. He was transferred to the firm’s San Francisco office in 1970. It was during this
time that Friday came out as a gay man and became active in San Francisco’s emerging gay community. Around 1972, Friday began
bartending at gay bars on Polk Street allowing him to devote his days to political efforts. The next year, Friday became friends
with Harvey Milk, going on to serve as his advisor and work for his campaigns. It was also during this time that Friday became
involved with the Tavern Guild and, in 1978, became the first bartender to be elected as president of the association. He
used his position in the Tavern Guild to increase its influence and the overall political power of the San Francisco gay community.
During the mid-1970s, Friday became friends with Bob Ross, co-founder and then publisher of the B.A.R., a free weekly San
Francisco Bay area newspaper that is today one of the longest continually running LGBT newspapers in the United States. Friday
was a contributor to the B.A.R. from 1977 to 2004. He wrote weekly columns, including “Our Man Friday” and “Politics and Poker”,
and served as the paper’s political editor.
Friday also served the city of San Francisco in his work as a criminal investigator and police commissioner. Friday became
a criminal investigator for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office in 1985, retiring in 1998. Friday was appointed to
the San Francisco Police Commission in August 1993 by Mayor Frank Jordon. He resigned in January 1996 at the end of Jordon’s
term only to be re-appointed to the commission by Mayor Willie Brown in January 1997. He served as a commissioner until April
Friday was a member of the Golden State Peace Officers Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the San Francisco District
Attorney Investigators Association. He was honored by Mayor Feinstein, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and the California
State Senate. In 1986 Friday won the Community Service Award from the Bay Area Non-Partisan Alliance, and in 2006 was given
the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club Lifetime Achievement Award.
After suffering from Parkinson’s disease for over a year and in declining health, Friday committed suicide on October 12,
2016 at age 79. In honor of his life and contributions to San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee ordered flags flown at half-mast at
City Hall, SFPD Headquarters, and 10 San Francisco police stations on the Friday following Friday’s death.