It would appear that May is an important month within LGBT* history. As on May 22nd 1930 a young boy by the name of Harvey Bernard Milk was born, and he soon became the ‘father and founder’ of the Gay Rights movement both in America but across the world.
During the early 1970’s many gay men from across America migrated towards San Francisco and the Castro District, one of these being Harvey Milk. To this day the Castro District has grown and is still a continued prominent symbol for the LGBT community and LGBT rights across the world. Noticing the growing potential of the area, Milk unsuccessful ran for political office three times. On his fourth and final attempt, Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay person to be elected to public office.
Whilst in office, Milk helped to strengthen and develop the rights for gays within San Francisco and California. One of the main highlights from Milk’s time in office was his successful campaign against Proposition 6 / The Briggs Initiative.
The proposition would have banned Gays and Lesbians from working within California’s public schools and was brought about as a result of a tide of anti-gay legislation being passed across the United States. It was supported by anti-gay singer and entertainer Anita Bryant and California state legislator John Briggs. Heavy campaigning on both sides would ensure a closely fought battle, and with America and the world watching it was a resounding NO victory against proposition 6.
Only 10 months after being sworn into office and a month after the successful defeat of proposition 6, Harvey Milk and the then Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed by former supervisor Dan White. Following the death of Milk, the true significance and importance of this man’s life was known. As between 25 and 40,000 marched in a candlelight vigil from the Castro District down to the Town Hall.
So what is the legacy of Harvey Milk? He has taken his place as one of the leading civil rights pioneers joining the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Cesar Chavez. Milk’s election to public office has paved the way to many more openly LGBT individuals holding office around the US and the world. He has been seen by many as the founder and father of the gay rights movement which over recent years has grown and developed in many parts of the world.
The morals of his story are also very relatable to modern day life, to stand up and fight for what you believe to be right. Also the ability and desire to not give up on your dreams or passions no matter how many times they may knock you down. There is always still more to come.
Harvey Milk: A politician, gay rights activist, humanitarian, vaval officer, friend, boyfriend, brother, leader but above all else…a visionary.