Harvey Milk

by David

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

In our time there have been many great men and women that I feel could be excellent heroes. Yet, the type of hero I was looking for was someone who was kind, considerate, and treated everybody with equality. I found one man named Harvey Milk, who met most of my qualities for the ideal hero. This man was gay and lived during the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, when homosexuality was seen as a mental disease and not as a way of life. Even today gays are looked down upon and are not treated as equals. It took quite a lot of strength for this man to remain kind and courteous even though people treated him the opposite. This is just one of the reasons why I picked this extraordinary man, who was the first gay to ever hold a political office.

As he was growing up, he never realized he was actually gay until after he graduated from high school. After he graduated, his travels led him to Dallas, Texas, then to New York, and finally to San Francisco, to an area where many homosexuals lived together, to a place where they could live and at least be treated as equals. Even though this area was one built of cheap houses and received poor city care, Harvey still did not let this get him down. He continued to pursue his goals of becoming a politician.

He opened a camera shop on Castro Street and acted as an advocate for local businesses in dealing with the municipal government. Realizing that the footholds of the San Francisco political establishment were in the merchant organizations in the city's ethnic neighborhood, Milk founded the Castro Valley Association (CVA). Through the CVA, the gay community became politically organized and gained allies in the labor unions and with some political leaders.

After running for office several times, he finally got on the Board of Supervisors for the City Council in 1977. Of course his first acts were to make laws about anti-gay discrimination. Sadly, he only had 11 months in office before he was assassinated.

On November 27, 1978, Milk was murdered in San Francisco City Hall, as was Mayor George Moscone. On that day, former City Supervisor Danny White crawled through a basement window of the building to avoid metal detectors. White had resigned his seat on the Board following the enactment of the Gay Civil Rights bill that he had opposed.

White was convicted of two counts of voluntary manslaughter and sent to prison for seven years and eight months. This stunningly light sentence was granted in response to what is now referred to as the "twinkie defense." White's attorney argued that the defendant could not be held accountable for his actions due to the amount of junk food he had eaten on the day of the crimes. White was paroled after six years in prison and committed suicide shortly thereafter.

Though Harvey Milk's life was cut short, this incredible man proved to respect all people even though he was disrespected as a gay. Yet, he died for a cause and other homosexuals began to rise up and fight for their rights. This is why he is my hero; he helped to take society another step forward in the pursuit of equality and peace.

Page created on 11/9/2010 9:36:40 AM

Last edited 11/9/2010 9:36:40 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century - "Harvey Milk: People told him no openly gay man could win political office. Fortunately, he ignored them" by John Cloud