Happy Harvey Milk Day—Now Go Do Something About It

The State of California—and Queerty headquarters—celebrate Harvey Milk day on what would have been the slain politician and civil-rights leader’s 82th birthday.

Just a few months before he was assassinated by former San Francisco supervisor Dan White in 1978, Milk delivered a rousing address at San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade, calling on other LGBT people to come out to help fight anti-gay politicians.

The times have changed, the message has not:

“I’m tired of the lies of the Anita Bryants and the John Briggs. I’m tired of their myths. I’m tired of their distortions. I’m speaking out about it.

Gay brothers and sisters, what are you going to do about it? You must come out.

Come out to your parents. I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth!

Come out to your relatives. I know that is hard and will upset them but think of how they will upset you in the voting booth.

Come out to your friends—if they indeed they are your friends.

Come out to your neighbors, to your fellow workers, to the people who work where you eat and shop.

Come out only to the people you know and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions.”

Milk is getting several honors today in the Golden State, including the opening of Harvey Milk Park in Long Beach and Harvey Milk Street in San Diego.

Meanwhile, the right-wing group Save California once again encouraged students to skip school today rather than learn about Milk and the LGBT movement. Because ignorance is bliss!


Photo: San Francisco Public Library

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  • manhandlemike

    The sadness I felt 34 years ago comes rushing back when reading Harvey’s words.
    To this day our community owes this man a huge debt!

  • DenverBarbie


    I’m going to use that in a sentence today! Trouble being, should I say “eighty-twoth” or “eighty-secondth”? I guess I’ll try both on for size!

  • DenverBarbie

    Joking aside, this is why it’s important that the Anderson Cooper’s and Queen Latifa’s publically come out. We have so much to lose by not sharing our stories! The speech reprinted above could come from the mouths of politicians and activists today; I anticipate the day his words feel historical.

  • Malky

    Come out only to the people you know and who know you. Not to anyone else

    Sounds to me like this is what Queen Latifah and Anderson Cooper have done.

  • JW

    I love “And Arnold Schwarzenegger” it made me laugh.

  • John D'Ambra

    The man who murdered Harvey Milk was freed FIVE years later. Yesterday, in a very well covered court case, an immigrant who had been the DIRECT CAUSE of a Gay man’s suicide after video taping then POSTING the video of a (physical) meeting between the young man, TYLER CLEMENTI, and an acquaintance was given 30 days, THIRTY DAYS. Things HAVE NOT changed very much so please stand up to HATE/VIOLENCE MONGERING BIGOTS at every opportunity. We SHALL overcome; but only if we stick together and share EQUALITY as ALL HUMANS are entitled to…

  • 9ansean

    I’m not gay, but I was bullied for having tourette syndrom and have very strong conviction about equal treatment before the law. I’m also very concerned about sterotypes going unchanllenged and I’d really love to know why so few people in the media gay or straight have come forword to challenge the absolutly vicious campaign of distortions that SaveCalifornia has flushed out against Harvey Milk and the many who are trying to honor his legacy. They have taken a minor fact about his personal history, (that one of his boyfriend was 16 at the time they started living together) and run with it with alll they can to parpatuate the long running myths about homosexuals and child recruitment. You know that if this had involved honoring the legacy of an accomplished American who had a relationship with an underage girl (think Charlie Chaplin) there is no one they’d be stirring up such a shit storm. There leaders wants members of the public who have done all the research to think the gay community has something to hide: why isn’t someone trying to counteract these half-truths and outright lies with facts!

  • Nicki

    It’s sad what happened to Harvey Milk but let’s not revise history here. He was a chickenhawk and into teen guys which is sick.

  • BB

    I lived in SF from 1969 to 1974, so I was there dur­ing the “instal­la­tion” of the Cas­tro area. Before that, the gay neigh­bor­hood had been Polk Street, which after­wards became the place for those not mid­dle class enough to be accepted by the Cas­tro (sound famil­iar? Christoper Street to Chelsea?).

    Har­vey Milk was a dis­tinctly mid­dle class politi­cian who had been in the armed ser­vices and had once, I think, sup­ported Gold­wa­ter. His one really impres­sive achieve­ment was his defeat of the Briggs Ini­tia­tive; but aside from that, he was a “dog shit” kind of politi­cian. As a “gay art hippy” who hung out with the Cock­ettes, I had no inter­est in him and saw him as some­one who had “sold out to the estab­lish­ment.” Most of my friends thought the same, when we thought of him at all.

    It was merely an acci­dent of time and place that won him a place in his­tory. If he had not been shot, his sta­tus and iden­tity would prob­a­bly resem­ble that of a Bar­ney Frank today and he probably would have died from AIDS.

    Since the late 60s we had been push­ing the LGBT agenda polit­i­cally. In 1969 and 1970 in San Fran­cisco, I par­tic­i­pated in impromptu LGBT rights marches through the streets of SF, a takeover of the con­ven­tion of the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­an­a­lyt­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion, to get them to take homo­sex­u­al­ity off their list of ill­nesses, and a fuck-in in a church. Har­vey was far from the orig­i­na­tor of gay pol­i­tics. He was the orig­i­na­tor of gay main­stream pol­i­tics, and for that he’s become a saint? The Saint of Com­pro­mise, I would say.

  • SFMatt

    9ansean-It wasn’t just “one BF” it was a whole lot more, Harvey Milk was into underage teen guys which is disgusting. Even the Randy Shilts bio mentions this and it’s common knowledge and even back in the day here in SF everyone knew about him being a chicken hawk.

  • 9ansean

    I just looked through Randy Shilts book in Barnes & Noble today (which I had already read through multiple times) to see if I’d missed anything. Of the 8 or 9 partners he descibes in detail being involved with Harvey Milk over his adult life, only one of them does he identify as 16 at the time they meet. The rest were all identified as between the ages of 20 and and 24 (or in the case of Bob Tuttle 28 though he looked younger). Of course, this doesn’t confirm everyone he was ever with and by Randy’s own admission two of his parnters had committed suicide at the time research began on the book), but how many people even in SF knew Harvey well enough to say for certain what his personal life was usually like beyond hersey.
    Know I don’t mean to suggest that being involved with a teenagers sexually is inheriently right of wrong since there are a lot of people gay and straight who admitted to having there first sexual experiance as a teen and it not being a terribly life altering experiance. Yes young people are more prone to be taken advantage of by older people (which includes young adult) and age of consent laws do very from place to place. How young if too young if something even I have trouble making up my mind on, but what pisses me off is the tone of the attacks. They make it sound like gays and liberal will defend anything to find heros and that the gay right movement is bound to lead to rampent sex with adults and small children, which is vicious and cowardly. More than anything, I don’t think these attacks would be made to same degree if they involved underage relationships of a heterosexual nature, especially since adult marriages to young girls have been perfectly legal and even common at many times is history. So yes we should take the good with the bad in remember are historical figures, but the same kind of scutiny should apply to everyone.

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