Harvey Milk

by Jordan from San Diego

Harvey Milk



"You gotta give 'em hope!" This was one of Harvey Milk's many inspirational quotes. Milk was the first openly gay politician in California and spent a significant amount of his time in office fighting for equality. He faced a lot of hardships in his life and experienced many failures. Most of his career was in San Francisco, where he campaigned for the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender(LGBT) community, as well as other minorities. Harvey Milk devoted his life to his cause and his people, never giving up despite his defeats. He changed the stereotypical view of a politician, as well as correcting the negative beliefs about homosexuality. Harvey Milk inspired the world with his hard work in politics, compassion for the people he represented, and perseverance despite his many obstacles, thus making him a hero.

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After all of the hard work Harvey Milk did in office, many doors were opened for the minorities of the world. Once he was elected into local politics, he spent all of his career protecting the rights of the citizens of San Francisco, "One of Milk's biggest accomplishments as Supervisor was passing a gay rights ordinance and defeating Proposition 6 (also known as the Briggs Initiative), which would have banned openly gay and lesbian people from working in public schools"("Harvey Milk Biography - California Safe Schools Coalition and Friends - Safe Schools Coalition."). Harvey Milk aimed to be clear on his agenda from the very beginning. Milk wanted San Francisco to be a better place and he was determined to carry out these causes until they were reached. He was fighting an uphill battle all by himself, but he never once gave up. Harvey did not limit himself to fighting for homosexual rights, he also campaigned for others who struggled to be heard, "The shakeup in government brought in not only gays, but also, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians to city hall"( Ed. Michael J. Tyrkus and Michael Bronski). His election into city hall opened many doors. It brought hope to the LGBT community, showing them they will be accepted for who you are, but not only the LGBT community, he inspired also people of different races with his courage and determination to fight for their freedom. Thanks to the laboring Harvey Milk, many oppressed people were inspired to fight for a better life.

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Milk's love and devotion for the people he inspired made him a hero. Harvey Milk, repeatedly, fought for his community's freedom in his campaign, "Standing before the voters with a long ponytail and moustache Milk stated, 'I stand for all those who feel that the government no longer understands the individual and no longer respects individual rights'"(Ed. Michael J. Tyrkus and Michael Bronski). He ran his campaign in the name of the people; he was there to fight for those too afraid to fight for themselves. Milk wasn't just trying to earn his own rights, he was determined to change the public's view of homosexuals. He boldly ran for office, open about his identity, some of the public was not pleased, "[...]he was a hero to the homosexual community, and a target of death threats. In a tape recording made shortly after his election, he said: 'If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door'"("Milk, Harvey (Bernard))." Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia). During this time, there were many close minded people who were disgusted by the thought of a gay man in office. Harvey Milk received all of the rage and hate of these people and his life was often in danger. But even in these scary times, Milk focused the attention on the community despite the threat of personal harm. Harvey's loyalty to his people helped his dream to inspire the minorities of the world to find their voice fight for equality.

The perseverance Harvey Milk displayed in the face of his failures was a contributing factor to his heroism. Before running for local politics, Milk wasn't always open about his sexual orientation; "[...]he served as a Navy deep sea officer in the Pacific. Two years later the Navy discovered his homosexuality and he was dishonorably discharged"( Ed. Michael J. Tyrkus and Michael Bronski). Harvey Milk was continually punished and shamed for being homosexual. However, instead of giving up, he took these experiences and put them behind him, letting them make him stronger rather than tear him down. The beginning of Milk's political career was incredibly bumpy,  "Milk's popularity grew; after two unsuccessful campaigns[...]"( "Harvey Milk."-St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture). But, Harvey Milk refused to give up, despite having two failures. He knew if he continued his honest campaign, he would eventually be elected and after being elected, he would lead the citizens to their freedom. Milk's persistence and determination allowed him to be elected into office, which showed the people of the city, and the world, that anything is possible.

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Harvey Milk was considered a hero, due to his laboring in politics, his devotion to his cause, and perseverance against his defeats. He was discriminated against. He was constantly put down by those who didn't believe in him. He had the false impression in his early life that his identity was wrong. Milk was a very inspiring man and left a lasting impact on many people, "Fred Sainz, a vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, argued that Mr. Milk ''also understood that you can't always burn down the barn to bring about change'"(Mckinley, Jesse). Harvey Milk taught the gay rights activists that they needed to be reasonable and fair in order to achieve their individual rights. In order to win the war, they would have to lose some battles. Years after Harvey Milk's death, even present day, he serves as a symbol of hope and an example of the value of hard work, determination, and loyalty.  


Works Cited

"Harvey Bernard Milk." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Student Resources in Context. Web. 4 Feb. 2016.

"Harvey Milk." Gay & Lesbian Biography. Ed. Michael J. Tyrkus and Michael Bronski. Detroit: St. James Press, 1997. Biography in Context. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.

"Harvey Milk." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Detroit: Gale, 2013. Student Resources in Context. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.

Mckinley, Jesse. "Harvey Milk's Shop, Center of a Movement, Is Now the Center of an Internal Fight."New York Times 20 Dec. 2010: A14(L). Biography in Context. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

    "Milk, Harvey (Bernard)." Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2015): 1p. 1. Funk & Wagnalls     New World                 Encyclopedia. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.
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Page created on 2/18/2016 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/22/2018 5:17:09 PM

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