What it’s all about

Today is June 28th.  The day that sparked a movement.  A movement that calls on us who identify as part of it to simply identify as part of it, and a movement that calls on you who support it to see it for what it is — people being themselves.  For as Harvey Milk said:

It takes no compromising to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no survey to remove repressions. 

It is impossible to imagine a world in which Harvey Milk never lived.  And yet, before Sean Penn’s brilliant portrayal of him in the film Milk, before he led the effort to defeat California’s discriminatory Briggs Initiative which would have seen every acknowledged homosexual teacher in California’s public schools fired for just that fact alone, before his historic candidacy and then victory as the country’s first openly gay person elected to public office and his subsequent assassination as the country’s first openly gay person elected to public office by a bigot who opposed him as an openly gay person elected to public office, it is important to remember that he was just the owner of a camera shop.  A businessman.  An American.  Just trying to make ends meet like anyone else.  And in the process experience love and happiness and friendship and community.

Harvey outside Castro Camera

Harvey Milk outside his business in San Francisco — Castro Camera

It is devastating to me when I imagine what this country or this world might be today if he had lived longer, and it is devastating to me when I imagine what this country or this world might be today if all those lost to the indifference of the Reagan administration toward the burgeoning AIDS crisis or to the violence of hatred and bigotry had lived longer.

It’s not just the names you know — the Harvey Milks or the Matthew Shepards.  It’s the ones you don’t.  A short time ago, I had the privilege of meeting the surviving same-sex partner of the gay couple who were the first to legally adopt a child in my home state of California, and their adopted son.

Their son, a runaway, had been living a troubled life on the streets that involved drugs and selling his body to survive and he was frequently in trouble with the law and incarcerated.  After they adopted him and provided a stable home life, he completed high school while staying out of jail, entered the Army, and served two combat tours in Iraq; he is now engaged (to a woman) to be married, and told me he hopes to raise his own son someday after the example set by his dads.

To me, this is what gay rights, and this 48th anniversary of Stonewall, are all about.  Everyday people living everyday lives.  Every day.

homo-nest-raided


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