“Without hope, not only gays, but those who are blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us’s; without hope the us’s give up. I know that you can’t live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you, and you, and you, and you have got to give them hope.” Harvey Milk, 1978
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to political office in the state of California, in 1977. He and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed in their offices on November 27, 1978, by former Supervisor Dan White. Milk became an iconic figure in LGBT culture, known for his work to further the rights of minority groups of all kinds, and a rallying figure for LGBT visibility and political activism after his assassination.
In 2009, the state of California enacted Harvey Milk Day, to be celebrated on May 22 each year, and the bill was signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The day is a “day of special significance for public schools”, who are urged to include information on Milk and his place in California’s history.
Harvey Milk said you have to give them hope. Forty years after his death, much has changed in California, and Visalia.
Last year, I posted this about Harvey Milk Day. In it, I mentioned the first Pride Visalia Festival event (not, however the first Pride celebrations in the area), which turned out to be a spectacular success. Well, it’s happening again!
May 26, 2018, will see the second annual Pride Visalia festival, hosted again at The Old Lumber Yard on Oak Street by the Source LGBT+ Center. This year’s festival promises to be bigger and better than last year’s, with entertainment and fun for the entire family.
Harvey Milk became the face and voice of hope for people across California and the United States. His call to live our lives as out and proud LGBT citizens led many to do just that, and our society changed in unimaginable ways. The right to serve our country in the armed forces, the right to marry, the right to adopt, the right to be a fully franchised citizen of the United States is now the law of the land.
Much work remains to be done, however. In the past several years, many attempts have been made to roll back the rights so hard won. We must continue to stand for our rights, and for the freedom to live our lives as open and free Americans, fully protected by the Constitution.
Harvey said “you have to give them hope”. Join us at Pride Visalia, and take part in the continuing expression of hope and joy that is the future of this movement.
The Source LGBT+ Center 208 W. Main Street, Suite B (downstairs), Visalia
I am a member of the Advisory Board, former member of the Board of Directors, and community liaison for The Source LGBT+ Center. Image: Harvey Milk 1977 – Associated Press – Daniel Nicoletta