Today is Harvey Milk Day — at least in California — a holiday that occurs every May 22nd, on Harvey's birthday, to honor the late, great gay-rights activist who was assassinated in 1978. Harvey Milk is only the second person in California state history, after conservationist John Muir, to be recognized with his own 'day,' and is the only openly gay person in the country to be honored this way.
Harvey would be pleased, I'd like to think.
In 1977, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, and less than a year later both he and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated. Despite his short political life, Milk has become an icon in San Francisco, in California, around the world, and throughout LGBT community, proving that when we stand together, we can do anything.
Now, of course, there is no Harvey Milk Day here in South Carolina, which is roughly ten to twenty years behind the times; and there is no Harvey Milk Day in most states, though some communities around the nation will be celebrating. But, maybe, just maybe, each of us, gay, and gay-friendly, can talk about Harvey today, and continue to spread in his word.
It may not be an official Harvey Milk Day, but it can be a day in which all the things he stood for, fought for, and died for, are remembered.
Happy birthday, Harvey.
“My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you.”
“Every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and all. And once you do, you will feel so much better”
“Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight.”
“I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they’ll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive, so that two, three, four, five hundred will step forward, so the gay doctors will come out, the gay lawyers, the gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects … I hope that every professional gay will say ‘enough’, come forward and tell everybody, wear a sign, let the world know. Maybe that will help.”
“I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you...And you...And you...Gotta give em hope. Hope will never be silent.”
“All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”
“If I turned around every time somebody called me a faggot, I’d be walking backward – and I don’t want to walk backward.”
“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.”
“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!”
“If a bullet should enter my brain,
let that bullet destroy every closet door.”