Harvey Milk was a visionary civil and human rights leader who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States in 1977. The @humanrightscampaign SF shop is located in the former Castro Camera shop that Milk owned and lived above. From here, he organised social and political campaigns, becoming a local leader in marginalised and LGBT+ communities. Milk’s unprecedented loud and unapologetic proclamation of his authenticity as an openly gay candidate for public office, and his subsequent election, gave hope to LGBT+ people everywhere at a time when our community was encountering widespread hostility and discrimination. He famously heralded and called upon our community: "Gay people, we will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets. … We are coming out to fight the lies, the myths, the distortions. We are coming out to tell the truths about gays, for I am tired of the conspiracy of silence, so I’m going to talk about it. And I want you to talk about it. You must come out!" Milk was aware of the likelihood that he could be assassinated. In a personal audio recording he said “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door." He was assassinated in 1978.
His life is an inspiration to all people committed to equal opportunity and an end to bigotry. Before I was even born, he was empowering people like me, and therefore me, to live visibility, openly and happy.
Thank you, Harvey.
Excerpts of his seminal "You Gotta Give 'Em Hope" speech, which outlines why the LGBT+ community must look out for other communities, are below.