Lessons from Harvey

05/19/2010 03:10 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As we have been gearing up to celebrate the first official day of recognition for an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person in our nation's history -- Harvey Milk Day on May 22 -- I decided to reread The Mayor of Castro Street. If you haven't read it, you should. As I read, I reflected on the legacy of Harvey Milk. And I realized how much his life and vision guide our work as a movement.

Harvey Milk taught us that in order to achieve our goal of equality, we must be out and visible in all aspects of our lives, unwavering and principled in the values we hold and about more than just ourselves.

Being out and visible is something each and every one of us, LGBT and ally alike, must do every day of our lives. It isn't always easy to talk about who we are with those that oppose our equality. We understandably fear more rejection for simply being who we are. But if we are going to achieve our dream of full equality and acceptance we all must be out -- and be vocal about it.

Standing for what we believe in and being unwavering in our values is essential if we are going to advance our rights. We should not support candidates who do not support our full and complete equality. There is no such thing as partial equality, and politicians who advocate for making us less than full and equal citizens do not deserve our endorsements, our dollars or our votes. Inspired by Harvey's commitment, EQCA's Political Action Committee only endorses candidates who are 100 percent for full equality.

And most importantly, Harvey taught us that we must be about more than just ourselves. It is important that our community stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies fighting for social justice across the spectrum. Our rights are part of a broader social movement, and ours will be a hollow victory if anyone is denied equal rights or equal opportunity. "Equality," by its very definition, requires that all people are equal, and we will never be truly equal unless everyone is truly equal.

These three principles that Harvey lived by are the pathway to equality. This Harvey Milk Day, people across California will come together for rallies across the state. We'll go door-to-door in neighborhoods that don't yet understand the need for greater LGBT rights to reach out and share our stories with them. And we'll meet with candidates who are committed to full and complete equality, just as Harvey was when he campaigned for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and worked to make the world a more welcoming place for the "us'es" about which he passionately spoke.

Everyone at Equality California is extremely proud that the Harvey Milk Day Bill we sponsored, authored by Senator Mark Leno, is now law. This Saturday will be the first day we celebrate his life -- our lives -- in an official way. Take pride in what you helped make possible. And share your story openly with everyone you come in contact with. For Harvey. For all of us.