On May 22 1930 Harvey Milk was born. In 1977 he become the first non-incumbent openly gay person to be elected to any public office in the United States. One year later he was brutally assassinated by Dan White, a fellow city supervisor. Milk worked tirelessly not only to achieve legal protections for the gay community but also to highlight and fight so many other instances of rising economic and social inequality. Watch these clips and let’s not let his message of resistance in the face of oppression ever be forgotten.
1. Harvey and Juana (1978)
This is as necessary a watch now as it was in 1978. Here Harvey takes on the irony of homophobic Christians using the bible as authority for their hatred despite its leading figure preaching a doctrine of love. This is HM at his political best: he is charismatic, controlled, and full of conviction. We remember Milk for his work on gay rights, but he was about so much more than that.
2. Changing the options for gay kids:
“One day that child might open a paper which says “homosexual elected in San Francisco” and there are two new options: one is to go to California, the other is to stay in San Antonio and fight.”
3. Putting the movement first: the tape he recorded in event of his assassination
“I fully realise that a person who stands for what I stand for … becomes the potential target for someone who is insecure, terrified, afraid or very disturbed themselves”.
4. Live footage from the reaction to his assassination and the subsequent vigil
There’s not much to add: it’s sad, and touching and the reaction only
emphasises the violence Dan White inflicted – to Harvey and to the
community he represented.
5. Dustin Lance Black accepting the Academy Award for best Screenplay for “Milk”
The spirit of Harvey Milk lived on in this speech, which captured and continued his message of love, hope and acceptance. I still can’t watch it without sobbing.
“If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value. And that no matter what everyone tells you, God does love you, and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.”