LGBT History Month Icon Of The Day: Harvey Milk
In his impassioned 1978 “Gay Freedom” speech, Harvey Milk, LGBT rights pioneer, activist and one of the first openly gay officials elected in the United States, said, “There will be no safe ‘closet’ for any gay person. So break out of yours today — tear the damn thing down once and for all!”
The New York-native Milk, was born in 1930 and moved to San Francisco in 1969, where his political career and life as an activist blossomed. After two failed attempts, Milk was elected to the San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1977, not solely on the basis of gay rights, but on a broad platform that also included expanded childcare facilities and low-rent housing.
But as an outspoken gay man, Milk, who was shot and killed in 1978 by Dan White, who was enraged that the mayor would not reappoint him, became the face and voice of a movement, imploring his gay brothers and sisters to stand up against discrimination. Milk’s cultural impact can still be felt to this day. The pioneer’s life is celebrated around the world every May 22 on Harvey Milk Day and the 2009 Oscar-winning film, “Milk,” reached a national, mainstream audience, grossing almost $32 million to date. In 2009, Milk was honored by President Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.