Today, May 22nd is Harvey Milk Day. Today we celebrate what would have been Harvey’s 90th birthday. More importantly, we celebrate what Harvey stood for. We celebrate our out, proud, and inclusive queer community. We celebrate our achievements to be recognized in society. We celebrate our unity and the strength and inspiration we continue to have, even as we cannot gather as a collective.
Many know Harvey for becoming the first openly gay person elected to office in California at a time when queer people were demonized. As a community leader, Harvey pushed for us all to come out—to be visible to the world. He reasoned that as more and more of us were authentic about our gender and sexual identities to our families, cultural attitudes would have to change. History has proven him right.
Harvey was committed to inclusivity within the broader queer community. He was committed to social justice for all marginalized groups. He inspired us to see ourselves as connected in the larger quest for justice and to acknowledge diversity within our own community.
The success of the movement in which Harvey was a leader was made possible through our community’s ability to come together—to gather in queer spaces, to create neighborhoods where we could all feel safe as we express our gender and sexualities authentically.
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to a thriving queer nightlife scene, which was enabled in no small part by Harvey’s leadership and that of others of his generation who brought queer nightlife out of the shadows. The SF Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund is working to ensure that this nightlife culture can resume as restrictions are lifted so that queer people are able to live authentically and socialize in safe spaces.
This event comes at a time in which our ability to gather physically is limited. But this time, like Harvey’s time, is a passing one. And today we honor Harvey’s legacy by coming together in a way he never would have dreamt possible. Today we gather as one community, united in our commitment to living our queer lives fully, to being recognized and represented in our society, and acknowledging the diversity within our community that shapes our unique experiences.
Tonight, we join together online as a Bay Area, and worldwide, queer family to celebrate our lost brother and the incredible contributions he made to our City and to LGBTQ+ liberation around the world. We hope you can join us:
Harvey Milk’s 90th Birthday Block Party
Friday, May 22, 2020; 5:30 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.
Most importantly, we join together to remember the hope he gave us. The LGBTQ+ community will not be driven out of San Franciso by discrimination, gentrification, or (a second) disease. We will adapt, we will fight back, and we will survive. Together.
Even while we shelter in place in our homes, unable to range widely, the LGBTQ+ community knows whose streets these are: our streets. This is the town that Harvey built: our town.