Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Harvey Milk

Apologies, the quote at the end of my previous post was by HARVEY Milk, not Henry Milk.


Interestingly enough, I got the quote from a picture of the Milwauke, WI Prop 8 protests - one of the protesters was holding a poster with that quote on it, but attributed to the wrong author.

Thanks to Cyd for the correction :)

And for my penance, here is the Wikipedia entry on Harvey Milk:

"Harvey Bernard Milk
(May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978) was an American politician and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk was born and raised in New York where he acknowledged his homosexuality as an adolescent, but chose to pursue sexual relationships with secrecy and discretion well into his adult years. His experience in the counterculture of the 1960s caused him to shed many of his conservative views about individual freedom and the expression of sexuality.

Milk moved to San Francisco in 1972 and opened a camera store. Although he had been restless, holding an assortment of jobs and moving house frequently, he settled in the Castro District, a neighborhood that was experiencing a mass immigration of gay men and lesbians. He was compelled to run for city supervisor in 1973, though he encountered resistance from the existing gay political establishment. His campaign was compared to theater; he was brash, outspoken, animated, and outrageous, earning media attention and votes, although not enough to be elected. He campaigned again in the next two supervisor elections, dubbing himself the "Mayor of Castro Street". Voters responded enough to warrant his running for the California State Assembly as well. Taking advantage of his growing popularity, he led the gay political movement in fierce battles against anti-gay initiatives. Milk was elected city supervisor in 1977 after San Francisco reorganized its election procedures to choose representatives from neighborhoods rather than through city-wide ballots.

Milk served almost eleven months as city supervisor and was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance in San Francisco. On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned and wanted his job back. Both Milk's election and the events following his assassination demonstrated the liberalization of the population and political conflicts between the city government and a conservative police force.

Milk has become an icon in San Francisco and "a martyr for gay rights", according to University of San Francisco professor Peter Novak.[1] While established political organizers in the city insisted gays work with liberal politicians and use restraint in reaching their objectives, Milk outspokenly encouraged gays to use their growing power in the city and support each other. His goal was to give hope to disenfranchised gays around the country. In 2002, he was called "the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States".[2] Writer John Cloud remarked on his influence, "After he defied the governing class of San Francisco in 1977 to become a member of its board of supervisors, many people—straight and gay—had to adjust to a new reality he embodied: that a gay person could live an honest life and succeed."[3]

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