If I turned around every time somebody called me a faggot, I’d be walking backward – and I don’t want to walk backward.” – Harvey Milk
I have always considered myself part of a movement, part of a candidacy. Almost everything was done in the eyes of the gay movement. – Harvey Milk
Harvey Bernard Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978) became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Politics and gay activism were not his early interests; he was not open about his homosexuality and did not participate in civic matters until around the age of 40, after his experiences in the San Francisco of the 1960s.
Milk moved from New York City to settle in San Francisco in 1972 to the Castro District.
He took advantage of the growing political and economic power of the neighborhood to promote the rights of gays by running for political office.
Milk won a seat as a city supervisor in 1977.
Milk served almost 11 months in office and was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city.
On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned but wanted his job back.
In 2002, Milk was called “the most famous and most important LGBT official ever elected in the United States”.
Anne Kronenberg, his final campaign manager, wrote of him: “What set Harvey apart from you or me was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us.”
President Obama awarded Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
“It’s not my victory, it’s yours and yours and yours. If a gay can win, it means there is hope that the system can work for all minorities if we fight. We’ve given them hope.”
– Harvey Milk, after winning a seat on the Board of Supervisors in 1977
The Last words of Harvey Milk–Found at the Internet Archives
(c) Rob Goldstein 2015 All Rights Reserved