Politician, business owner, activist, and gay man: Harvey Milk did it all.
Today, San Francisco is known as one of America’s most predominantly Proud cities. NYC may have Stonewall, but we have Castro Street. And Harvey Milk opened a camera shop on Castro in 1972 after moving from the East Coast.
After discovering a thriving gay community and an unfair tax on small businesses, Milk took it upon himself to run for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1973. Even though he didn’t win, he received seventeen thousand votes—a substantial enough number to justify building a political career.
On January 9, 1978, a historical election resulted in Milk as the San Francisco City-County Supervisor. Not only was it a success for him and a triumph for the wider LGBT+ community, but San Francisco’s 1978 Board also saw its first Chinese American and first African American woman elected.
With thousands of voters and a diverse Board at his back, Milk got to work.
He rallied people to do a lot of good. They participated in strikes, attended Pride parades, and helped defeat discriminatory legislation. Milk probably would have done more, too, if he wasn’t assassinated.
Dan White, a former Board member, shot Milk on November 27, 1978. The sudden loss was grieved by queer communities across the nation, in a candlelight vigil on the streets of San Francisco and a protest in D.C.
Today, he is remembered by his policies, his foundations, and his community.
SOURCES: Milk Foundation, History.com, and NPR