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Harvey Milk Day Recognizes Fallen San Francisco Hero (PHOTOS)

Harvey Milk

First Posted: 05/21/2012 8:52 pm Updated: 05/22/2012 8:51 pm

LGBT activists all over the country will celebrate the third annual Harvey Milk Day on May 22, a holiday honoring the pioneering San Francisco supervisor who served as the first openly gay elected official in the United States.

A bill authored by California State Asseblyman Mark Leno and signed into law by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger created Harvey Milk Day in 2009.

While California is the only state to officially honor the legislator, whose tragic assassination at the hands of fellow Supervisor Dan White was depicted in the Academy Award-winning 2008 film "Milk," people all over the country also participate. In 2010, groups in 28 other cities followed the Golden State's lead and held events honoring the legislator.

"He knew you had to make change," Mobile, Ala. gay rights activist Robin Galbraith told USA Today. "Our community has to understand you have a voice, and if you don't use it, nothing will change."

In the New York native's adopted hometown of San Francisco, there are a bevvy of Harvey Milk Day events planned for Tuesday, including a fashion show, a march through Milk's Castro neighborhood and a benefit for Harvey Milk Elementary School featuring "Milk" screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

But some are none too pleased by the festivities. A group of conservative California parents are threatening to withdraw their children from school in protest of local districts' plans to spend a portion of the day teaching students about the gay rights movement.

The anti-gay group Save California has been running a series of ads in the Sacramento radio market urging parents to follow their lead. "Parents who hear about 'Harvey Milk Day' are outraged that this teen predator and sexual anarchist would be given the time of day, let alone be indoctrinating children behind the backs of parents," said Save California President Randy Thomasson in a statement.

Thomasson argues that schools should be required to gain written parental consent before students learn anything about gay rights.

We here at HuffPost SF, however, will happily go on record as saying we very much support the holiday!

Correction: The story originally identified Oscar-winner Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black as Dustin Lawrence Black.

Check out this slideshow showing important milestones in Harvey Milk's life and legacy:

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  • May 22, 1930

    Harvey Bernard Milk is born in Woodmere, New York

  • 1951 - 1955

    Milk served in the Navy. He was honorably discharged.

  • 1972- 1973

    Milk moves to the Castro and opens Castro Camera.

  • November 8, 1977

    Milk is elected to the Board of Supervisors for District 5 in his fourth run for elected office. He is the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States.

  • November 27, 1978

    Dan White assassinates Milk and Mayor George Moscone at City Hall. That night, more than 30,000 people march from the Castro to City Hall and hold a candlelight vigil.

  • May 21, 1979.

    Dan White is convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison. Thousands of people throw rocks, break windows, and set police cars on fire around City hall. Later that evening, several officers in riot gear arrive at the Elephant Walk Bar on Castro Street and beat patrons at random. These incidents become known as the White Night Riots.

  • February 22, 2009.

    After being nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the film Milk wins Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sean Penn).

  • May 22, 2010

    First Annual Harvey Milk Day

  • April 2012

    Bob Filner, a Democratic San Diego congressman, proposes the U.S. Navy <a href="" target="_hplink">name a ship after Harvey Milk. </a>


Filed by Aaron Sankin and Sarah Medina  |