"All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential."
May 22, 1930 - November 27, 1978
Born on Long Island, New York, Harvey Milk was many things. He played high school football, was a mathematician, a diving instructor, a Navy Lieutenant, a high school teacher, an actuarial statistician, and a Wall Street researcher. Harvey Milk was also unabashedly gay.
Harvey Milk got his start in politics when he moved to San Francisco's Castro District and became an advocate for its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population. As a community leader, he was able to forge coalitions with other groups competing for power as the city's population changed in the 1960s.
From his camera shop in the Castro District, Milk bristled at government interference and policies. Deciding to run for office, he was a natural politician. In 1977, when voted onto the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States. As a Supervisor, he led the board in adopting guarantees for the rights of LGBT people in San Francisco. Harvey Milk became a symbol of hope for LGBT people across the globe as communities struggled to pass legislation that would guarantee human rights for everyone, inclusive of LGBT people.
In 1978 Supervisor Milk brought his message of hope to Long Beach when he spoke before the local Lambda Democratic Club. He encouraged members to continue their campaign against a California initiative that sought to bar gays and lesbians from working in public schools. Many who were present still remember the passion and conviction with which he spoke. Shortly thereafter, on November 27, 1978, Supervisor Milk and Mayor Moscone were shot to death by a former city supervisor who had recently resigned from the Board of Supervisors.
Since his death, Harvey Milk has became an icon for the gay community, his example inspiring others to carry on the struggle. He showed the world what one person with dedication, an (?) of the power of free speech, vision and focus can accomplish. His was a simple (?) message of inspiration - "Hope will never be silent."
Harvey Milk Equality Plaza
Honoring Local LGBT LeadersLong Beach has a long history of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender activism and leadership.
While there have always been lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Long Beach, it was in the 1960s that the population began to truly grow. Places began to open that were accepting of the LGBT community including bars and churches. LGBT people were gathering regularly to discuss issues important to them. From those discussions they created a hotline and service center to provide social services and recreational activities. In 1977 the Lambda Democratic Club was organized to defeat a California Initiative that would have barred gays and lesbians from working in public education. At about the same time, a local chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) was formed.
The local LGBT population continued to grow in number and political and economic importance. In 1984 a group of LGBT leaders believed there was a need to increase awareness and promote a greater sense of self-worth within the community. They organized the first Lesbian & Gay Pride Festival and Parade to foster greater cooperation, understanding and mutual respect between the LGBT community and the rest of the city. It has grown into the third largest such event in the nation attracting more than 75,000 participants over the two-day celebration.
Following the success of the Pride festival, in 1987 the Long Beach City Council banned discrimination against LGBT people in employment. Two years later it banned discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS. The City of Long Beach Human Dignity Program was established in 2000 to demonstrate the city's commitment to embracing and valuing cultural diversity. As these new laws demonstrate, LGBT people were playing larger roles in the city's life. Only three openly gay members were elected to the City Council. In 2012, the Human Rights Campus named Long Beach one of the 10 top cities in the United States for inclusive LGBT policies.
Today, the LGBT community continues to be a point of pride for the city for the work it does in advocating for equality and opportunity. Nine members of the local LGBT community were honored at the ground breaking ceremony for Harvey Milk Promenade Park on May 22, 2012. The name of the original nine, as well as future honorees to be recognized in Harvey Milk Equality Park appear below.