Today, May 22, is Harvey Milk Day. Harvey Milk was born on this day in 1930. He was a gay rights activist and community leader. Harvey Milk made history by being one of the first openly homosexual politicians to hold office. He was elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1977, but he was tragically shot and killed the following year.
This day is special to me for many reasons. I respect all the work Harvey Milk did by being a gay rights activist years before I was born. I appreciate that he helped get the ball rolling towards equal rights. Movies have been created about him because his story is interesting and controversial, and we all know that controversy sells. But the movies have done more than entertained, they’ve educated. I didn’t even know how Harvey Milk was until last year, and I’ve been “out” for nearly 4 years now. Without that movie, without other gay rights activists talking about that movie, I never would have known about this awesome man, Harvey Milk.
Who is Harvey Milk?
Harvey Milk wasn’t just a gay rights activist. He battled for a wide range of social reforms for education, public transportation, child-care, and low-income housing. Milk’s murder—and the surprisingly light sentence his killer received by virtue of the famous “Twinkie Defense” has made him even more famous.
If you haven’t seen the movie, if you haven’t read about Harvey Milk, I urge you to do so. I urge you to teach your kids about him (at an age-appropriate level, obviously). And I urge you to share his story with your friends. It’s a great story, for so many reasons. Harvey was afraid to tell his parents, friends, and family that he was gay while he was growing up. This opens up the door to discuss bullying, gay rights as they are today VS how they were back in th 1950s when Milk was growing up – plus many other things. Read An Educator’s Guide to the Harvey Milk Story for more ideas.
Here are some great resources to help you learn about Harvey Milk. You can purchase them at Amazon or check them out at your local library (if they have them – they may not).