“You gotta give them hope,”
Harvey Milk was an awkward man who refused to hide the fact that he was gay.
Born in New York, Harvey Milk moved to San Francisco when he was 40 years old and quickly became a community activist. He dubbed himself the “Mayor of Castro Street,”
At that time homophobia ran rampant in the streets of San Francisco. Bar raids and gay bashing by police in the gay community of the Castro was a common event but Harvey fought back for his community.
Harvey then entered politics and won a long-fought election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 on his third attempt. But it was a short-lived victory.
In 1978, Proposition 6 – also known as the Briggs Initiative – a ballot measure which was backed by singer Anita Bryant sought to expel gay and lesbian teachers from California schools. Harvey Milk fought tooth and nail and played a key role in defeating the measure.
That same year Dan White another supervisor, assassinated Milk along with Mayor George Moscone at San Francisco City Hall because he disagreed with the gay rights initiatives Milk championed.
Harvey Milk was only 48 at the time of his death.
“Harvey was a lightning rod for the gay-rights movement in that he encouraged lesbians and gays to work with the current political processes and he demanded acknowledgment and respect,” California State Senator Carole Migden, a lesbian and former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, told AFP.
“His election was a huge step forward. He showed that gays deserved a place in the political process, and that if they worked hard for it, they would have it,” she said.
Harvey Milk’s legacy is clearly not confined to the streets of San Francisco. Milk’s ascension shook up the establishment because he proved that the gay rights movement was a very real phenomenon, not just chasing rainbows as some do today and that is something we must always remember. He delivered bodies to rallies and protests, voters on Election Day, and brought a passion to gay politics and the fight for gay rights, and he also brought hope where there was little.
For this we must always be grateful and remember.
My one wish will always be that Harvey was here today to lead us today. We certainly could use him.
Happy Birthday Harvey. We Miss You