This Friday is one of my favorite days of the year as an out and proud gay man in the great state of sunny California! Harvey Milk Day is a special commemorated day in the Golden State celebrating and honoring the life and political career of one of the most iconic gay activists in our state’s history: Harvey Bernard Milk. I found this from the Gay Straight Alliance website:
Harvey Milk was an activist, organizer, and the first openly gay man elected to public office in the country as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the late 1970s. Harvey Milk came out and started organizing against discrimination of gay and lesbian business owners in the Castro District of San Francisco, and against the Briggs Initiative (this was an initiative on the California state ballot in 1978 that would have banned gays and lesbians from working in California schools). Milk was responsible for passing gay rights ordinances for the city of San Francisco and served eleven months in office before he was assassinated on November 27, 1978, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. We celebrate Harvey Milk Day on his birthday, May 22.gsanetwork.org/resources/harvey-milk-day/
You can read more about Harvey Milk Day on the GSA Network website here.
Harvey Milk was to the gay rights movement every bit what Martin Luther King was to the civil rights era. He bucked the conventional wisdom in the 1970’s that an openly gay man could not and would not win an election to public office. Harvey believed with every ounce of his being that coming out of the closet and living an open and honest life was the only way to ensure the cause of equality would advance. His signature campaign theme of “you’ve got to give them hope” became the mantra of his generation. Harvey also believed that while helping politicians who were sympathetic to our community was beneficial it would always better for gay and lesbian leaders to seek and win public office. Harvey Milk was assassinated, along with then city mayor George Moscone, soon after taking office.
Harvey Milk was also the political leader that I focused on for my graduate thesis when I was pursuing my M.A. in Communication. Harvey Milk was a trail blazer and pioneer that advanced the community and the cause of equality years into the future of politics. His groundbreaking campaigns and unapologetic ideologies sent shockwaves through our state and the nation. While his life and political career were cut short his legacy has survived and thrived decades later. School lessons and public events won’t pan out this year, obviously, due to the pandemic and sheltering in orders up and down the state but this is still a great time to raise awareness and reflect on the life a great leader in the fight for gay rights.
Amen and so say we all. 🙂