Hope will never be silent

Harvey Milk. File photo.

By Bruce Hartley

May 22 is a holiday dedicated to the memory of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist and the first openly gay person elected into California public office. He was assassinated in 1978.

Harvey Milk Day, organized by the Foundation in his name, teaches the world about Milk’s life and his work to stop discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Milk is one of my heroes. I came out late in life (at age 50), and I often wish I’d had the opportunity to meet him and work on his campaigns. I was in high school when he was assassinated, during a time when I was struggling with my own sexual identity.

I believe if I were exposed to Milk and his passion for equality during the late 70s, my journey might have been different. I think back to the years I spent in the closet, and I am thankful I can live openly as a proud gay man in 2018.

Our world has gone through a lot of change since the 70s. Legislation and views about LGBT+ issues continue to vary from state to state, faith to faith and family to family. President Obama helped LGBT+ people in many ways during his time in office. He may be my runner up hero if I am forced to name a back up to Milk.

In less than two years we will be voting again for the top office in the land. We have more power than we know and we must gather together and use our power to influence the elections in our local, state and national levels. Please encourage your family and friends to register to vote and follow the campaigns as they develop over the next few years.

For those who don’t know much about my hero. I hope the following quotes from Milk will inspire you to use your voice to inspire others. I believe Milk’s quotes keep his spirit alive today. His words are oddly relevant in 2018.

“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” 

“The fact is that more people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That, that my friends that is true perversion!” 

“It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” 

“All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.” 

 “Hope will never be silent.” 

“Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.” 

 “Politics is theater. It doesn’t matter if you win. You make a statement. You say, ‘I’m here, pay attention to me.’” 

Join me for a moment of silence on May 22 to honor the memory of Harvey Milk. I hope we can all leave a legacy which stands the test of time for years to come.

It is time for all LGBT+ people to start thinking about how we can make a difference in the upcoming elections.

Let’s do it for Milk and others who came before us to help pave the way for the rights we have today.

The Gayly. May 22, 2018. 9:37 a.m. CST.