"Every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and all. And once you do, you will feel so much better."
Harvey Milk died thirty-five years ago today.
Harvey Milk is one of my heroes. He was an ordinary person who did an extraordinary thing, he fought and died for the freedom of gay people.
|Harvey Milk with President Carter|
The words he uttered at the beginning of this post was and has been my mantra since I came out of my personal closet in April of 1963. I made a decision then not to live my life as a gay man according to others' terms but on my own terms. Of course there was a price to pay, sometimes a high price for demanding my freedom but it was worth it. Harvey Milk fought on a much larger stage than I did and he paid the ultimate price, his life.
On this day before our national Thanksgiving holiday, I pause not to remember the false myth of the Pilgrims who shared bread with the native Indians of this America but one of the true heroes and martyrs for freedom in this country, Harvey Milk. A man who gave his life for the right of all gay people to choose who they want to love without fear of social ostracization or bodily harm. A man who gave hope, as the first elected gay official, for gay people to live their lives in freedom equal to their fellow Americans. On this Thanksgiving, I thank Harvey Milk.