Harvey Milk PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 January 2009 12:28

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Harvey Bernard Milk

Born: May 22, 1930, Woodmere, New York

Died:  November 27, 1978, San Francisco, California

Age: 48

Cause of death: Shot 5 times.

Notable because: The first openly gay man to be elected into public office in California.

Harvey Milk was an American politician and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Politics and gay activism were not Milk's early interests; he did not feel the need to be open about his homosexuality or participate in civic matters until around age 40, after his experiences in the counterculture of the 1960s.

Milk moved from New York City to settle in San Francisco in 1972 amid a migration of gay men moving to the Castro District in the 1970s. He took advantage of the growing political and economic power of the neighborhood to promote his interests, and ran unsuccessfully for political office three times. His theatrical campaigns earned him increasing popularity, however, and Milk won a seat as a city supervisor in 1977 a result of the broader social changes the city was experiencing.

Milk served 11 months in office and was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city. On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayorhttp://www.cinema.ucla.edu/festival/fp10/presimages/HarveyMilk.gif George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned and wanted his job back. Conflicts between liberal trends that were responsible for Milk's election and conservative resistance to those changes were evident in events following the assassinations.

Despite his short career in politics, Milk has become an icon in San Francisco and "a martyr for gay rights", according to University of San Francisco professor Peter Novak. In 2002, Milk was called "the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States". John Cloud remarked on his influence, "[After Milk] many people—straight and gay—had to adjust to a new reality he embodied: that a gay person could live an honest life and succeed

 

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 July 2010 09:07
 

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