By Anne Kronenberg, Co-Founder, Harvey Milk Foundation
Happy Harvey Milk Day 2012! Harvey Milk hired me in 1977 to run his campaign for Supervisor in District 5. It was the first time supervisors were elected by district, rather than citywide, and Harvey felt his time had finally come. I was young and totally inexperienced; Harvey taught me everything I know about politics and advocacy. Harvey courageously fought for equality for lesbians and gay men. He spoke of hope. Hope that the world we live in would exist without hate and bigotry. He urged all lesbians and gay men to come out of the closet, to stand proud and embrace the diversity that makes us each unique and special individuals. Less than one year after taking office, Harvey’s life was tragically taken, but the hope he inspired in us remains bright today.
As I reflect on next week’s posthumous celebration of Harvey Milk’s 82nd birthday, I ask myself, “What has changed in the 32 years since his assassination?” Harvey Milk fought for our basic rights as human beings and he dreamed of a better tomorrow filled with the hope for equality and a world without hate. Harvey urged all lesbians and gay men to come out of the closet, to stand proud and embrace the diversity that makes us each unique and special individuals. When Harvey bravely spoke out, he was doing it for all of us. Harvey gave his life so that we could gain our freedom. Human beings are resistant to change and we all know that institutional change is very slow. Given these facts, it is breathtaking to see the cultural shift in beliefs and attitudes surrounding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community that have taken place in the last three short decades.
Stuart Milk, Harvey’s nephew, and I started the Harvey Milk Foundation to empower local, regional, national and global organizations so that they may fully realize the power of Harvey Milk’s story, style, and collaborative relationship building. The Foundation, through Harvey’s dream for a just tomorrow, envisions governments that celebrate the rich and universally empowering diversity of humanity, where all individuals – gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, the young, the disabled – all who had been excluded can fully participate in all societal rights without exception.
I hope you will be able to join me in celebrating Harvey’s birthday this coming Sunday, May 20th from 4:00 – 7:30 p.m. at the Infusion Lounge, located at 124 Ellis Street. The Harvey Milk Foundation is hosting this event with all proceeds going to the Foundation. Donna Sachet will preside as the Mistress of Ceremonies for a fashion show featuring twenty-five Bay Area designers using custom-printed Harvey Milk fabric. Christopher Collins, “Project Runway” fashion-celebrity, will lead the group judges. The event promises to be a star studded, fun filled evening - Tickets can be purchased at milkday2012sf.eventbrite.com. Hope to see you all there.