Celebrating Gay Civil Rights Icon, Harvey Milk on His 90th Birthday

LGBTQ rights icon Harvey Milk (image via TheOUTFront)


Guest post by Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.

Born May 22, 1930, Harvey Milk is listed as one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Important People of the 20th Century,” because he spoke out not only for LGBTQ people but women, people of color and other communities living on the margins.

“All men are created equal. No matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words.
That is what America is about.”

A Naval and Korean War Veteran, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man elected in California, to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in1977. At a time when anti-gay ballot issues were winning across the country, Milk and his coalition were a major force in defeating California’s “Prop. 6 Briggs’ Initiative” that mandated firing teachers for being gay.

“It takes no compromise to give people their rights, it takes no money to respect the individual.
It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.”

He was the first openly gay man elected to public office; but more than that, he won that election a mere eight years after the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969.

His message of inclusion, the value of the marginalized, which he built his representative coalition around, also help elect the first Asian American man and African American woman to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. In his short eleven months in office, he spearheaded the defeat of California’s “Brigg’s Initiative” which would have prohibited gays and lesbians from teaching in schools.

Like Abraham Lincoln, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. before him, the gay civil rights leader and champion of equality and justice, knew what history held in store. What Harvey Milk could not have known was the recording he made in the event of his murder would be played just nine days later, when a white, Christian, anti-gay, straight, gunman assassinated him and San Francisco Mayor, George Moscone in their City Hall offices on November 27, 1978.

“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”

While it is impossible to imagine what Harvey Milk might have gone on to achieve had he not been killed, it’s plain to see the lasting impact his living legacy has had on the LGBT+ Community and America as a whole.

He has received countless honors posthumously, including a Naval ship named after him; the first postal stamp recognizing an openly gay American, a critically acclaimed biopic; and our country’s highest honor given to a civilian, the Medal of Freedom, presented by President Obama in 2009.

In 1985, The Times of Harvey Milk, narrated by Harvey Fierstein, became the first gay-themed film by openly LGBTQ filmmakers to win an Academy Award.

The stirring documentary focuses on an ordinary man who believed in ordinary values but made extraordinary accomplishments by giving everyone hope. It’s colorfully told by the vibrant and dedicated people who were a part of the movement and is profoundly moving.

But greater than all these is the lasting legacy Harvey Milk gave us in his words and wisdom.

It is striking in comparison to today’s divisive social and political rhetoric, that Harvey Milk succeeded in bringing people together by speaking of hope. He spoke of and to the “us’s” as equal people in our communities, that the marginalized matter.

“The fact is that more people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason.
That, that my friends, that is true perversion!”

“I have tasted freedom. I will not give up that which I have tasted.”

“All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”

“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.”

“Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.”

“If you are not personally free to be yourself in that most important of all human activities… the expression of love… then life itself loses its meaning.”

“Hope is never silent.”


Lawrence Pfeil, Jr., is a freelance writer/playwright who has reviewed film and theatre, both on and off-Broadway, for media outlets including The Randy Report, the New York Blade, and Edge Publications. You can follow him at TheOUTfront.com.

News Round-Up: March 22, 2018

(via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

• First, it was Superman star Henry Cavill going all clean-shaven. Now, one of my favorite InstaHunks, Alex Abramov, (above) is teasing his followers writing, “Trim your scruff!” #KeepTheFur

• LGBT series EastSiders was nominated for 6 Daytime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Daytime Digital Drama Series, Outstanding Writing & Directing for creator and star Kit Williamson and Outstanding Actor in a Digital Daytime Drama Series for Van Hansis.

• San Francisco Airport plans on renaming one of the terminals after gay rights icon Harvey Milk.

• CNN president Jeff Zucker went THERE calling out competitor Fox News as “state-run TV.” He added, “It is a pure propaganda machine, and I think does incredible disservice to this country.”

• Two separate research teams believe they’re found links between genetics and being transgender.

• Emmy Award-winner Lena Waithe covers the latest Vanity Fair in style – her own style. Hit the link because if you don’t know her yet, you will love the uber-talented out writer actress after.

At the recent Black Women in Hollywood Awards, she told the crowd, “Being born gay, black and female is not a revolutionary act. Being proud to be a gay black female is.” Now, how you not gonna love that?

News Round-Up: July 30, 2016

Some news stories you may have missed:

• Anti-LGBT American Family Association is super-pissed that Hilton Hotels ran the above ad of two hot guys.

• The Navy will name a new ship after the late LGBT activist Harvey Milk.

• GOP VP candidate Mike Pence says there’s no place for name calling in politics. Has he MET his running mate?

• Cleveland Pride cancels this year’s Pride celebration, and the reasons are kinda vague.

• Is voting for a third party “throwing away” your vote?

• Donald Trump says the NFL wrote him complaining about the presidential debate schedule. The NFL says he’s lying.

• Remember folks – save a horse, ride a cowboy.

NYC: Kristin Chenoweth & Andrew Lippa “I Am Harvey Milk”

Do not miss the East Coast premiere of Andrew Lippa’s acclaimed oratorio I AM HARVEY MILK, which tells the story of Milk’s life — from becoming the first openly gay man in public office to his assassination — in an emotional tribute to this true American icon.

Celebrate the incredible life and legacy of Harvey Milk at this one-night-only concert event to benefit the Harvey Milk Arts Fund.

Tony Award® winner Kristin Chenoweth stars in the New York Premiere of I AM HARVEY MILK composed by and also starring Tony nominee Andrew Lippa.

At Avery Fisher Hall on October 6th at 7:30PM, also featuring the Orchestra of St Luke’s and the 120 member All-Star Broadway Men’s Chorus.

Click here for tickets.

Harvey Milk Commemorative Stamp design revealed

The design for the U.S. commemorative “forever stamp” honoring San Francisco gay rights activist Harvey Milk has finally been revealed according to Linns.com Stamp News.

From Linns.com:

The stamp will be issued on Harvey Milk Day, May 22, in a location or locations yet to be determined.

Both Washington, D.C., and San Francisco are potential first-day cities.

U.S. Postal Service officials announced the stamp subject in October 2013 but have not formally revealed the image.

Harvey Milk commemorative stamp on it’s way?

Since 2009, there have been ongoing efforts to get the U.S. Postal Service to issue a Harvey Milk stamp.

Could it be on the horizon?

From The Bay Area Reporter:

Linn’s Stamp News, a weekly publication that covers the mail service, is reporting in its May 27 issue that Milk was among the special stamps chosen for next year by the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee during its closed door meetings earlier this year.

An anonymous source sent Linn’s a copy of the panel’s January 31 and February 1 meeting minutes where 2014 stamps were debated and chosen. It included a notation that the minutes regarding the Milk stamp, along with a number of other choices, had been approved at an April 13 meeting.

Reporter Bill McAllister, who provided the Bay Area Reporter with a copy of the article posted to the website of the subscription-only publication May 13, cautioned in the story that “there is no certainty” that the Milk or other listed stamps would be issued in 2014. The documents McAllister was provided, nonetheless, list the Milk stamp for release in May next year.