Harvey Milk (22 May 1930 – 27 November 1978) was an American politician and gay rights activist, and the first openly gay city supervisor of San Francisco, California. He was assassinated in 1978, and is seen by some as a martyr to the LGBT community.
- Gay brothers and sisters,... You must come out. Come out... to your parents... I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives... come out to your friends... if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop... come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.
- "That's What America Is," speech given on Gay Freedom Day (1978-06-25) in San Francisco
- This is Harvey Milk speaking from the camera store on the evening of Friday, November 18. This is to be played only in the event of my death by assassination. I fully realize that a person who stands for what I stand for, an activist, a gay activist, becomes a target or the potential target for somebody who is insecure, terrified, afraid, or very disturbed themselves. Knowing that I could be assassinated at any moment, any time, I feel it's important that some people know my thoughts. And so the following are my thoughts, my wishes, and my desires, whatever, and I'd like to pass them on and have them played for the appropriate people.
- I have never considered myself a candidate. I have always considered myself part of a movement, part of a candidacy. I considered the movement the candidate. I think that there's a distinction between those who use the movement and those who are part of the movement. I think I was always part of the movement. I wish I had time to explain everything I did. Almost everything was done with an eye on the gay movement.
- From a tape recording (1977-11-18) to be played in the event of his assassination, quoted in Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1982), p. 276
- The other aspect of this tape is the business of what should happen if there is an assassination. I cannot prevent some people from feeling angry and frustrated and mad, but I hope they will take that frustration and that madness and instead of demonstrating or anything of that type, I would hope they would take the power and I would hope that five, ten, one hundred, a thousand would rise. I would like to see every gay doctor come out, every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out, stand up and let that world know. That would do more to end prejudice overnight than anybody would imagine. I urge them to do that, urge them to come out. Only that way will we start to achieve our rights.
- From a tape recording (1977-11-18) to be played in the event of his assassination, quoted in Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1982), pp. 276-277
- I ask for the movement to continue, for the movement to grow, because last week I got a phone call from Altoona, Pennsylvania, and my election gave somebody else, one more person, hope. And after all, that's what this is all about. It's not about personal gain, not about ego, not about power — it's about giving those young people out there in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias, hope. You gotta give them hope.
- From a tape recording (1977-11-18) to be played in the event of his assassination, quoted in Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1982), p. 277
- And the young gay people in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias and the Richmond, Minnesotas who are coming out and hear Anita Bryant in television and her story. The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us'es, the us'es will give up. And if you help elect to the central committee and other offices, more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.
- A version of his staple "Hope Speech," quoted in Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1982), p. 363
- If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door in the country
- From a tape recording (1977-11-18) to be played in the event of his assassination, quoted in Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1982), pp. 372. Milk made three recordings for this purpose; these words come from the version given to Frank Robinson.
About Harvey Milk
- “…sixteen-year-old McKinley was looking for some kind of father figure…At 33, Milk was launching a new life, though he could hardly have imagined the unlikely direction toward which his new lover would pull him.” (pages 30-31)
- “It would be to boyish-looking men in their teens and early 20′s that Milk would be attracted for the rest of his life.” (page 24)
- “Harvey always had a penchant for young waifs with substance abuse problems.” (page 180)
- “Harvey confided one night that at twenty-four, Doug was the oldest man Harvey had ever started an affair with.” (page 237)
- “He had not suffered this disgrace, he told a later campaign manager, but he knew the story would make good copy. If anyone said something to Harvey about his fondness for such stunts, he would gesture wildly as launched into a lecture. ‘Symbols, symbols, symbols,’ he insisted. Sure, he had not been kicked out of the military…The point of the story was to let people know that service people routinely do get kicked out. Besides, he once confided, ‘Maybe people will read it, feel sorry for me, and then vote for me.’” (pages 78-79)
The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk.
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