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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 28, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 22
Millions celebrate Harvey Milk Day
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Millions celebrate Harvey Milk Day

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

On May 22, millions of Americans celebrated the life of the first openly Gay man elected to office: Harvey Milk.

May 22 also marked the first Harvey Milk Day officially recognized in California. Last October, 32 years after Milk's death, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill designating Harvey Milk Day as May 22 all over the Golden State. The bill did not make Harvey Milk Day a holiday, but it does encourage schools to remember Milk's life and accomplishments.

The date was chosen to honor Milk because May 22 was his birthday. He would have been 80 this year.

Milk was shot and killed by former San Francisco, California City Supervisor Dan White on November 27, 1977 at City Hall. Milk, who was 48 at the time, was elected to the city's Board of Supervisors a year before. During his 11 months in office and before, Milk was credited with advancing many issues in the LGBT community, including low-income housing and civil rights. Milk was instrumental in defeating California's Proposition 6, which would have prohibited Gays and Lesbians from teaching at public schools. Mayor George Moscone was also shot and killed by White that day.

Geoffrey Kors, the executive director for Equality California, said, "The creation of the first official day of recognition for any openly Gay person in the history of this country has really touched people, many of whom have been closeted in life or faced rejection or government discrimination which continues to this day."

Stuart Milk, 49, says his uncle would be thrilled by the various tributes, but his hope is that his uncle's day will be more about uniting all marginalized minorities than merely about LGBT rights.

"It's still a hard concept for people to get," said Stuart. "This isn't about having a Harvey Milk curriculum in every school. It's an opportunity to talk about what discrimination means and why it's important for everyone to feel included."

Harvey Milk's life was the subject of a 2008 Academy Award-winning film Milk, starring Sean Penn.

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