Harvey Milk

An honorable politician & icon for the LGBT community

Early Life

Harvey Bernard Milk May 22, 1930 in Woodmere, New York. During his early pubescent years, he was aware that he was a homosexual, but he abstained the information to himself. In high school, he participated in athletics, and was a comic in class. He also enjoyed the opera and spent a lot of time going to the Metropolitan Opera House.

Milk graduated in 1947, and enrolled in the New York State College for Teachers. He earned his degree in 1951. Milk joined the Navy. He served in the Korean War, and was discharged in 1955.

Getting Involved

Milk started to run for office, a spot on the city council, or in San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors. Unfortunately, he lost the election; however, he was filled with determination and didn't let that stop him.

He prepared for the next election, taking the Castro Village Association and making it into a mighty local group, and began the Castro Street Fair, now a tradition held (normally) on the first Sunday in October annually. In addition, he brought 2,000 new voters onto the rolls and began to write a newspaper column for the Bay Area Reporter.

Eventually, he was elected to the Board of Supervisors, and became the first openly gay elected official in San Francisco's history.

During his short period in office, he accomplished many exploits that paved the foundation for a brighter future for LGBT individuals.

He had put much emphasis on gay rights and became the incentive behind the passage of a gay-rights bill that forbid discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual preference. Milk persuaded the city to start a proposal to employ more gay police officers.

A proposal in California that would have prevented anyone who simply supported gay rights from teaching in the public school system. The proposal was an attempt to stop gay rights in California. In a debate between Briggs (the one who proposed the bill) and Milk, Milk won without a hitch.

He got national attention for conquering the state senate proposal that would've stopped gays from teaching in California.

Milk's time in office made a huge impact on government, not only bringing in more homosexuals, but also Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians to city hall.

Furthermore, Milk also initiated programs that benefited minorities, workers, and the elderly.

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"If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."

- Harvey Milk

Choices & Results

Milk paved the way for more LGBT people with professional occupations to come out, and he made it a safer world for them to live in. Because of some of the deeds he performed in office, gay rights were protected, and homosexuals and people who supported their rights were able to teach in California. Milk brought attention to gay rights and urged the city to hire more LGBT police officers. Overall, he came a beacon of hope for the LGBT community and brought forth issues that enabled a better life for those in the community.

"Because of his political savvy Milk made it work more successfully for gay and lesbian politics than any other individual before or after."

IN his words

Harvey Milk fought endlessly to get into office and be able to represent and demand rights for the LGBT community, giving them hope, and battling to get the LGBT community the rights they deserved


Harvey Milk was shot to death in City Hall by a man named Dan White. White was an old-fashioned, former city supervisor. He'd quit the Board of Supervisors to protest the city's gay rights decree.

When put on trial, White pleaded guilty but was said to be have consumed so much junk food that it impaired his judgment. This is infamously known as the "Twinkie Defense". He was let off on a lighter sentence, with a so-called charge of "voluntary manslaughter".

The sentence provoked the "White Night Riots" in San Francisco. 3,000 enraged protesters of the gay community went to city hall and caused approximately $1,000,000 in damage.

In July 2009, Milk was to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the most admirable civilian honor in the U.S.) for "his bravery in leading the movement for gay rights in public life" ("Harvey Bernard Milk." Encyclopedia of World Biography").

Later in 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill making Milk's birthday a day of honor in California.

There have also been many movies based on Milk's life. Some examples would be Milk (2009) and The Times of Harvey Milk (1984).

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Protests for the ruling on the assassination of Milk.

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President Obama presenting Harvey Milk's nephew with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"A hardworking and dedicated supervisor, a leader of San Francisco's gay community, who kept his promise to represent all constituencies."

- President Jimmy Carter (describing Harvey Milk)

Annotated Bibliography

  1. Harvey Milk." Gay & Lesbian Biography. Ed. Michael J. Tyrkus and Michael Bronski. Detroit: St. James Press, 1997. Biography in Context. Web. 4 May 2016. This article summarized Harvey Milk's life and gave general information of his life. This helped me get most of the information I needed, and informed me of the outline of his life.

  2. Harvey Bernard Milk." Gale Biography in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Biography in Context. Web. 4 May 2016. This is a photo of Harvey Milk. It helped me give a visual representation of Milk in the presentation.
  3. Foss, Karen A. "Harvey Milk." Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered History in America. Ed. Marc Stein. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2004. Biography in Context. Web. 5 May 2016. This article gave another summary of Milk's life. This article helped me find a few more facts and fact-checked the other two articles.
  4. Harvey Milk." Gay & Lesbian Biography. Ed. Michael J. Tyrkus and Michael Bronski. Detroit: St. James Press, 1997. Biography in Context. Web. 5 May 2016. This article was also a summary, but included a few more key details. This article helped me fact-check the first article as well as get a few more key facts for this presentation.
  5. www.brainyquote.com This is a site to find quotes. This site helped me find good quotes from Harvey Milk to show about him as a person.
  6. http://www.npr.org/player/embed/96865519/96875283 This site gave me an audio clip of Harvey Milk. This site helped me, because it was powerful to hear Milk speaking himself, talking about his wishes and dreams of accomplishments and the change he wanted to see in the world.
  7. http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/Quotes-from-Harvey-Milk-and-friends-3260815.php#photo-2324314 This site gave me quotes from Harvey Milk and other people who've made statements about him. It helped me greatly to find a quote someone else had said about Milk, as I was having trouble finding one.

  8. PRIMARY SOURCE: NYC Moscone Milk Verdict Protest: Hundreds of gay rights activists in New York City..." Gender Issues and Sexuality: Essential Primary Sources. Ed. K. Lee Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, and Adrienne Wilmoth Lerner. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Biography in Context. Web. 8 May 2016.This shows protests over the ruling of Milk's assassination. This shows how powerful Milk was and the effect he had on the public.

  9. "President Obama Presents Posthumous Presidential Medal Of Freedom To Harvey Milk In Washington." UPI Photo Collection. 2009. Biography in Context. Web. 8 May 2016. This shows Milk's nephew receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It shows that even in current times, Milk's choices laid the stepping stones for the future.

  10. "Harvey Bernard Milk." Gale Biography in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Biography in Context. Web. 8 May 2016. This is a picture of Harvey Milk. It helps me show the face of the great leader, and helps with visual representation.