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Who Was The Iconic Gay Activist in The 1960s?
Anne Kronenberg, Harvey Bernard Milk’s last campaign manager, said that the difference be-tween Harvey and us is that he was a visionary. He envisioned a righteous world and brought it to life for all minority communities.
An American politician, Harvey Bernard Milk who was the first gay elected official in Californi-an history, as well as being featured on a postage stamp. Born on May 22nd in 1930 on Long Is-land, New York and was assassinated November 27th 1978 at the age of 48. William and Miner-va Milk’s second son off , a family with strong ties to the community. His grandpa, Morris owned a Milk’s dry Goods which became the largest department store on Long Island.
Harvey Bernard Milk realized he was gay at a very young age and was reportedly indulging his needs with illicit trysts in his early teens. He knows well that he needed to conceal any signs that could raise suspicion; for example, he loved opera. He played basketball and was popular among classmates as the class clown.
Harvey Milk got elected by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who also acts as the city council. Harvey was a pro-LGBTQ politician; however; politics and activism were not always in his interest.
He had multiple career paths before politics which included high school teaching, insurance actuary, a researcher for Wall Street firm Bache & Company and finally a business owner, a camera store on Castro Street in 1972.
His store became a community centre, counseling neighbors on many topics such as finding apartments to applying for jobs. Harvey was invested in building relationships with his community which makes sense considering his families history regarding the city.
The more he spoke to the people, the more he realized that they were yearning for a leader. A leader who knew them fought for them and challenged the law, standing up against police harassment and the daily judgements from the public eye. Many of the people he counseled volunteered to help with his campaign to run for office.
He was private about his sexuality until he reached his forties after he had experienced the coun-terculture movement of the 1960s.
The counterculture movement was an anti-establishment cultural phenomenon. It developed throughout the western world between the 1960s and mid-1970s. As the 1960s developed throughout the time, large amounts of social tension also developed with regards to human sexu-ality, woman’s rights and more. Thus this movement played a significant role in his shift to being openly gay and approaching the world of politics.
In short, What Harvey was highlighting were the problematic experiences and discrimination of the minority LGBTQ group, African Americans and other minority groups. Examples he points out is the difficulties including religious fundamentalism, shown by religious leaders, such as Anita Bryant. Harvey also explains how discrimination can be overcome by electing the public offices of independent leaders who form part of the minority LGBTQ community.
Anita Bryant, who Milk mentions in his speech was an anti-gay-rights activist who ran a cam-paign “save our children”, making her one of Milk’s most prominent opponents. Naturally, she was condemned by gay activists, who were assisted by many other iconic figures in the music, film and television industries. They boycotted the orange juice campaign intending to drop sales for this campaign.
Both Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk was assassinated by Dan White, who was another city supervisor who was not supportive of the LGBTQ community. White resigned to pursue a pri-vate business which quickly ran into the ground, and thus he wanted his old job back.
Dan White crept into City Hall through a basement window, armed with a .38 revolver and shot Harvey Bernard Milk five times. After the assassination, White was sentenced to seven years behind bars for manslaughter. Milk remains were buried at sea in a box wrapped with the Sunday comics.
Harvey Milks short career did not affect his iconic presence within the public eye, but rather that he stood for others who could not raise their voices alone made him an icon.
Harvey Bernard Milk was infamous for being interested in young boys as young as 15 with accu-sations of rape. A specific occurrence which truth is debated is that known as the boy from Min-nesota, named Gerard Dols. Gerard claimed he spoke on the phone with Harvey Milk for an hour where Milk insisted he leaves the house as Gerard explained that his family was abusive and that he was being smothered, finishing off that he was gay and needed help.
Gerard came out in 1977 to his school counsellor. He claims that he has suicidal thoughts. Gerard’s parents contacted Har-vey Bernard Milk about the situation; he explained that he did not know the boy was 17, alt-hough Gerard insists that he did. The alleged story is a small example of how Harvey Milks repu-tation was brought into question.
It is not about how long you do something, but how you do something. Harvey Milk was post-humously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by Barack Obama.
Harvey Milk had numbers of books and films made about him, as he deserves to be remembered along with the US Navy naming a ship after him to honor him, known as the USNS Harvey Milk. Naming the boat after Milk is only appropriate as he served as a diving officer onboard the US Navy submarine rescue ship during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged.
When he died, he taught us what it means to be gay, for the older generation, the lessons shared by Harvey Bernard Milk are imbedded in their conscious minds. Many LGBTQ community members keep Milk’s values and message alive.
Harvey Bernard Milk demanded respect, mean-ing to re-inspect the opposite position of a different belief. Knowing that you have not lived in the shoes of someone in the LGBTQ community should encourage you to understand that they have lived, for whatever period, in those shoes worn by individuals considered straight, to avoid discrimination and judgement. Harvey Milk asked for this to be heard and respected.
Harvey explains that he did not do it because he was gay, but because it was the right thing to do.