A friend of mine asked me to write a post on Harvey Milk: a man who tried to change politics and the lives of thousands of gay men.
Here is one of his famous speeches:
There are a couple of things I would like to mention apart from the fact that he was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. Back in the 70’s this was a major step for the LGBTQI movement. I think the importance of his success is absolutely clear and deserves acknowledgment and admiration.
But there is more to his politics than his personality and sexual orientation.
Harvey Milk stood for community politics. He engaged directly in conversation with the people, listened to their concerns and tried to raise awareness of them. Furthermore the idea that the ‘Us’s’ have to find their place in mainstream thinking and acting and have to be heard and included addresses the basic ideas of integrating all parts of society in order to determine the route it takes. Finding your place and being acknowledged as a valid part of society can be considered a basic human need and it is among others thanks to Harvey Milk that many gay men and lesbian women can live their life in a more peaceful, accepted way than before; although, of course, we are still not where we should be.
Losing someone like Harvey Milk at such an early stage of taking influence is rather painful. But however short his life might have been, he influenced and strengthened so many and gave hope to those who were desperately in need of it.
The sentence he always started his speeches with was:
I am Harvey Milk and I am here to recruit you.
And that he really did.
Thank you, Harvey, for standing up and coming out of the closet.
P.S. For those of you who are more interested in the visual: watch the movie Milk (2008) with Sean Penn as Harvey Milk. It is more than a great movie.