Today is National Harvey Milk Day in America. A day to celebrate the life of a man whose courage and unconceivable hopefulness still echoes around the globe today, despite his passing almost 40 years ago.
He’s a man who has inspired me personally, in countless ways, to be a better and more forgiving person when faced with ignorance and hate.
He lived in San Francisco, California and was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in his state. During his brief 11 months in office, he passed a number of gay rights ordinance and inspired millions doing so. During a grey chapter in our peoples’ history, splattered with beatings, murder and police raids; Milk was able to show forgiveness and had courage enough to explain to the public that we are also humans and simply deserve the same rights.
Nicknamed ‘The Mayor of Castro Street’ (the gay quarter in San Fran.), Milk used his vision for equality to create a LGBT community for the books. And it was a community, in every sense of the word; vast, solid and united.
Harvey Milk has benefited the global LGBT community in too many ways to list here, and I cannot do his life justice in just one article. Instead, I ask that if you don’t already know of his life and his death – discover it. Whether you cheat a bit and watch the film (Milk, 2008), buy one of the many books or read the Wikipedia page; I guarantee you’ll be inspired, humbled and proud.
We’ve come a long, long way in the past 40 years. It’s thanks to Milk’s generation, as well as the generations before and after him that we are here, safe and able to love openly. I’ll end on my favourite quote of Harvey Milk’s…
“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door”.
And so it did.