Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Hero and Martyr Postage Stamp Design Revealed

Harvey stampWashington, D.C. – The long-awaited Harvey Milk commemorative postage stamp is now a reality, according to Linn’s Stamp News.  A black-and-white photo image of Harvey Milk will be the central feature of this non-denominated U.S. Postage “Forever” Stamp.  The stamp design includes the colors of the Rainbow Flag in six differently colored squares stacked vertically in the upper left corner.  First day of issue is planned to be May 22, 2014, Harvey Milk Day, to celebrate the San Francisco gay politician, activist, and city supervisor.  Cities likely to be chosen as first issue sites are Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, California.

Milk, who is recognized throughout the world as a hero and martyr of the LGBTQ and human rights struggle, was a U.S. Navy veteran, and one of the earliest openly gay elected officials in the United States, winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of City Supervisors in 1977.  Though gay rights was a major emphasis of his political career, Milk also championed affordable housing, city sanitation, expanded child care, and public transportation. He was shot to death in his City Hall office on November 27, 1978 by Dan White, his one-time colleague who blamed his actions on momentary insanity and disorientation from eating too many sugary desserts.  White also shot and killed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone the same day.  The appearance of this commemorative stamp marks the first time a gay hate crimes murder victim has been publicly honored in this way.

EDGE on the Net reports that The stamp, likely to be issued in a pane of 20, will be used to mail a one-ounce letter regardless of when the stamp is purchased or used and no matter how future prices fluctuate.  The current value of the stamp is 49 cents.

According to SF Gate, the U.S. Postal Service selects only 20 persons per year to be honored with a commemorative stamp, out of the thousands nominated by people all over the globe, and vetted by a citizens’ advisory committee.  Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle in October 2013 at the announcement of the Postal Service’s decision to develop and issue the stamp, Milk’s nephew and co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation, Stuart Milk said, “We’re excited. We think this will represent my uncle’s message, which is hope and courage and authenticity, very well.” 

April 2, 2014 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, California, gay men, GLBTQ, Harvey Milk, Harvey Milk Commemorative Postage Stamp, Harvey Milk Day, Harvey Milk Foundation, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, San Francisco, U.S. Postal Service (USPS), Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Hero and Martyr Postage Stamp Design Revealed

Gay Martyr for Justice Harvey Milk Celebrated Throughout America

San Francisco, California – Harvey Milk Day, May 22, celebrates the life and legacy of love of Harvey Bernard Milk, born May 22, 1930, and gunned down in his San Francisco City Hall office on November 27, 1978.  He was the first openly gay person elected to a major political office in the United States when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.  His close associate,  gay activist Cleve Jones, says of his friend Harvey, “He fought for gay people, against war and for workers and the poor. He stood with women, immigrants, seniors and youth. He forged coalitions that built power for ordinary men and women and moved us all forward with his humor, compassion and great love for his people.” 

In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Anne Kronenberg, another intimate friend of Harvey’s who managed his successful election campaign to the Board of Supervisors, reflects on Harvey’s legacy of human rights progress in the 33 years since he was assassinated.  She writes, “In 1977” (the year of Harvey’s election), “we were taking baby steps in our fight for equal rights. In 2012, we have come a long way as the dialogue on equality is a top-of-mind issue and specific actions are reaching that goal. Harvey Milk’s life and death changed the course of history,” Kronenberg went on to say. “Milk’s legacy, to give people hope for a better tomorrow, is very much alive in the hearts of anyone working to achieve change. Thank you, Harvey!”

In 2010, the State of California officially set aside May 22, the anniversary of Harvey’s birth, to be an annual celebration of his memory, the story of the struggle for LGBTQ rights, and of the continuing effort to make this a better world.  His work in education (successfully opposing the infamous Briggs Initiative, also known in California as Prop 6), and in youth empowerment is now being championed by the Harvey B. Milk Foundation, founded by Harvey’s nephew Stuart Milk and his friend Anne Kronenberg.  To learn more about Harvey’s life, times, assassination and witness for justice, see the Academy Award winning films The Times of Harvey Milk (1984) and Milk (2009). In book form, the definitive work is still Randy Shilts’s The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (St. Martins Griffin, 2008).

The Unfinished Lives Project Team joins grateful Americans from every walk of life in the celebration of Harvey Milk, hate crimes murder victim, gay rights pioneer, and friend of all marginalized people.  Though he died, yet he lives in our hearts and minds, and in the living shrine of liberty made up of the lived experiences of increasing millions of out and proud LGBTQ people.  Happy Birthday, Harvey!

May 22, 2012 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, bi-phobia, Bisexual persons, California, gay men, GLBTQ, gun violence, Harvey B. Milk Foundation, Harvey Milk Day, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Martyr for Justice Harvey Milk Celebrated Throughout America

It’s Official! Governor Jerry Brown Proclaims May 22 “Harvey Milk Day”

Supervisor Harvey Milk (l) and Mayor George Moscone (r)

Sacramento, California – It’s official! May 22 has been proclaimed “Harvey Milk Day” in honor and memory of slain gay political pioneer Harvey Milk by action of the Governor of California on Thursday:


In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man in the history of the United States to be elected to public office. This milestone achievement gave hope to millions of gays and lesbians across the country that a day would come when they could live their lives openly and honestly without fear of discrimination.

As a Supervisor, Harvey worked with others to secure passage of San Francisco’s landmark Gay Rights Ordinance. This ordinance extended employment protections to gays and lesbians in San Francisco, and it became a model for anti-discrimination legislation throughout California and the nation.

In 1978, Harvey traversed the State to campaign against Proposition 6, which was known as the Briggs Initiative. Had it passed, Proposition 6 would have required California school districts to fire openly gay and lesbian teachers solely because of their sexual orientation. The proposition was defeated in the November 1978 election in part because Harvey successfully appealed to Californians’ basic sense of fairness.

A few weeks after the election, Harvey and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed in San Francisco City Hall by a former member of the Board of Supervisors. The tragedy and its aftermath helped further propel the burgeoning gay and lesbian civil rights movement.

Harvey’s life was cut short far too soon, but his legacy of hope, tolerance, and equality lives on.

NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim May 22, 2011 as “Harvey Milk Day” in the State of California. I call on all Californians to observe the 81st anniversary of Harvey Milk’s birth with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 19th day of May 2011.



Governor of California

May 21, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Asian Americans, Bisexual persons, California, gay men, gender identity/expression, GLBTQ, gun violence, Harvey Milk Day, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Latino and Latina Americans, Legislation, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, multiple homicide, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Popular Culture, Queer, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on It’s Official! Governor Jerry Brown Proclaims May 22 “Harvey Milk Day”

Harvey Milk, Slain Gay Rights Pioneer, Honored Across the USA

San Franciso, CA – May 22 marks the first official Harvey Milk Day by action of the State of California.  Milk, the first openly gay or lesbian office holder in American history, was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.  Because of his advocacy for LGBT rights, especially the citizens of his district, Harvey was affectionately known as the “mayor of Castro Street.”  In 1978, he was gunned down a few minutes after Mayor George Moscone faced the same fate at the hands of disgruntled former city supervisor, Dan White.  The story is compellingly told by the Academy Award winning film, “Milk,” whose screen writer, Justin Lance Black and whose leading actor, Sean Penn, both received Oscars.  In 2009, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor. Milk’s legacy is immense, and it is only fitting that he is immortalized by this rare distinction in the Golden State.  Only John Muir has been so honored in California before Harvey.  Milk is the only gay person whose memory is enshrined in a day of festivities, education, activism, and remembrance statewide.  Notable among his words was the famous line he used so often to open his speeches, “I’m Harvey Milk, and I’m here to recruit you!”  Today, as California and and the nation at large struggle with the full inclusion and equality of LGBT people, racial ethnic minorities, women, and immigrants, nothing could be more pertinent than to recall Harvey’s life, and the qualities of passion and advocacy that continue to inspire and convert us to the cause of justice for all people.  First, Harvey Milk was not a quitter.  He ran unsuccessfully for public office multiple times, but refused to quit. The race for the finish line of justice is long, a relay, not a sprint, and he stayed the course until the voters caught up to him and to his vision of equality. Second, He refused to remain protected by the dubious security of the closet.  Openly and publicly, Harvey owned his identity and culture as a gay man before the world.  He called upon gays and lesbians everywhere to come out to everyone they knew, family, friends, co-workers, fellow students.  He knew that when LGBT people are known as the real human beings we are, it is harder to discriminate against us than if we are mysteriously hidden by fear. Third, he demanded respect and full equality.  Harvey knew that inequality for some of us–gay people, seniors, women, Asians, teamsters, youth–meant inequality for all of us. In his name, we should never support candidates or policies that compromise on equality for all. Rights are for all Americans alike–full rights, equal rights.  Fourth, Harvey Milk understood that political and social justice is all about hope.  “You gotta give ’em hope,” was Harvey’s most memorable mantra, and it remains true for today.  Hope for justice is not about optimism.  Optimism is shallow and may be easily frustrated by the unfairness of systems and circumstances.  Hope, on the other hand, is realistic and muscular.  Hopeful people are anything but passive.  They are engaged, as Harvey was, in the effort to make the world a better place, for hope’s sake.  Saturday, May 22 marks what would have been Harvey Milk’s 80th birthday.  He died an untimely, violent death.  But his life and legacy have paved the way for a better America, a more hopeful present, and full equality just over the horizon.  That is why in cities and towns all across the United States, Harvey’s hope is rippling out, expressed in events, festivals, teach-ins and social justice rallies to remember the Mayor of Castro Street.  Happy Birthday, Harvey!  Happy Harvey Milk Day to us all!

May 21, 2010 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, California, Harvey Milk Day, Politics, Popular Culture, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment


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