Harvey Bernard Milk, 1930 - 1978

portrait of Harvey Milk
As Supervisor, photo by Daniel Nicoletta (7 March 1978)

Born: 22 May 1930, Woodmere, New York
Died: 27 November 1978, San Francisco, California

Milk was aware of his homosexuality as a teenager but stayed in the closet. He was active in sports and was a class clown in high school while developing an early passion for opera. He earned a degree from the New York State College for Teachers at Albany in 1951, then served four years in the US Navy as a chief petty officer on a submarine rescue ship, leaving as a lieutenant, junior grade. He taught high school for two years, living openly with his male partner but not letting his family know. He landed at the investment firm Bache and Company as a researcher in 1963 and rose quickly due to a knack for finance. In 1968, milk's partner was hired as stage director for the San Francisco production of Hair and became active in war protests. Although he returned to New York for a couple of years, he was back in San Francisco in 1972, opening Castro Camera with his new partner. He ran for city supervisor in 1973 but the voting was city wide with 32 candidates, Milk polled tenth, not high enough to get a seat. He organized the Castro Village Association, becoming known as the "Mayor of Castro Street", and wrote a column for the Bay Area Reporter. He ran again in 1975, having developed good relationships with labor organizations (the gay community solidly supported the Teamster's boycott of Coors) he moved up to seventh. Mayor Moscone appointed him to a seat on the Board of Permit Appeals but he had to give that up when he ran an unsuccessful campaign for a state assembly seat. He also started a campaign to elect supervisors by district, which meant that in 1977 he comfortably one the seat for the district which included the Castro. As a supervisor, Milk won passage of a gay-rights law for San Francisco and was a supporter of minorities, labor, small businesses, and the elderly. Dan White, a former supervisor who had resigned in protest over the gay-rights bill, returned to city hall to rescind his resignation. When mayor Moscone refused to accept that, White shot the mayor, than went to Milk's office and shot him five times. Six months before his death, Milk sat down in his basement in front of a video camera and recorded a message that was sealed with instructions that it only be played if were assassinated.

Biography from Wikipedia and KQED/The Castro Resource Guide

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