Elected Official Harvey Milk This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 25, 2010
The words, “You gotta give them hope,” were spoken by Harvey Milk, a San Francisco city supervisor, the first openly gay ­political figure, and my hero. Like many, I had never heard of him until the film “Milk.” And I think everyone can learn something from him. He had a vibrant personality, and was unapologetic about it. He always struggled for what he believed in and most importantly he always gave people hope.

Harvey Milk grew up in a heterosexual community. His parents were heterosexual. His teachers were heterosexual. But Harvey never tried to hide his homosexuality; it was a part of who he was. And he was never sorry for who he was. Everyone should take what he believed to heart: everyone is unique and absolutely no one should be ashamed of who they are.

Harvey Milk was extremely persistent. Between 1973 and 1976 he ran for city supervisor three times, losing every time. But as he established himself in the community, he got more votes with each campaign. He ran a fourth time and finally won. But as a city supervisor, Harvey would face many challenges, the first being Proposition 6. Introduced by Senator John Briggs, Proposition 6 made it illegal for any homosexual to have a career in education. Harvey felt very strongly against it and did everything in his power to stop it. He knew it could push gays further into the closet. He campaigned day and night. And it worked.

In his will Harvey Milk wrote, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door in the country.” On November 27, 1978, two bullets did enter Harvey’s brain. The gunman was fellow supervisor Daniel White, who had also killed Mayor George Moscone. White had had a breakdown when he learned the mayor would not reappoint him as supervisor after his unexpected and abrupt resignation. After Milk’s tragic death dozens of homosexuals had attributed their coming out to his courage.

Harvey Milk still continues to inspire people today. In his moving acceptance speech for 2008’s best original screenplay, Oscar-winner Dustin Black said, “When I was thirteen years old … I heard the story of Harvey Milk and it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life openly as who I am.”

Harvey Milk stood for so much, not just for equality for homosexuals, but for everyone. In office just a short time, he accomplished great things. He now represents something much bigger than he could have imagined. His words and ideas will continue to bring ­people inspiration, courage, and hope.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Jacy-Lee said...
Oct. 29, 2011 at 11:24 am
Excellent job and beautifully written. You obviously have a great talent.
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