What Would Harvey Milk Think of These Times?


Harvey got his start in politics because of Watergate. Before he spoke of hope, his first message was “get the bums out!” He would definitely share that attitude today although the language he would use would be even more colorful.


Harvey was a very strong proponent of getting in the streets and making a bold statement. Coming out not only was an act of public courage, it was healing and empowering of the self, and it opened the eyes of friends and families who suddently realized a loved one was a member of a stigmatized group.


It was also essential to be visible to give real faces to the movement. Harvey, who learned much from Black civil rights movements, also understood the power that is created when like-minded souls walk together hand and hand, singing, chanting, and carrying empowering signs. Kissing too!


Harvey was also a big fan of the boycott. Invented in Ireland by Charles Stewart Parnell, it was used effectively by Gandhi, MLK and Harvey, who led a boycott against Coors beer to great success. With his strong background in the stock market, Harvey knew that much could be accomplished for good or for evil in the realm of the economic and that it is important to revitalize our cities through fair measures of taxation.


Harvey was definitely an example of thinking and acting both globally and locally. Whether urging sanctions of South Africa or fighting San Francisco gentrification, Harvey put his heart and soul into everything he did.

Harvey had no illusions about the corruption of city and state politics. Yet he felt that there was so much one could do within the system. Harvey would be very heartened that more and more people are thinking of running for office. Harvey was never afraid to ruffle feathers. When he joined the Board of Supervisors, he voted for a progressive person to lead instead of the expected person


I think that Harvey would say right now the time is not to be timid. There are many loving ways to be completely outrageous and we are seeing this in many of the street protests.

Harvey believed strongly that when dangerous lies are spoken it is essential that one give a public response, which is what he did when he debated the person who sponsored Proposition 6 (would get rid of gay and lesbian teachers). Harvey knew there was no chance of convincing the liar, he spoke the truth for the benefit of the populace at large.

When public officials were not doing their jobs properly, Harvey would also publicly take them to task, writing open letters detailing what they should be doing.  And although very strident about what he believed in, Harvey also believed strongly in the power of dialogue whenever possible.


Harvey also felt that all non-dominant groups (‘The Uses’): LGBTQ, women, African-Americans, Asians, traditional,minorities, unions, seniors, disabled, etc all needed to work together. Harvey was also strongly in favor of groups bonding together economically both through business associations and by promising to buy from their group. Harvey worked very closely with unions, Chinese people, senior citizens and more.

Harvey understood that there is only one big battle, that between love and non-love and that to fight for one is to fight for all. I think he would also say that efforts to secure marriage equality and other rights throughout the globe are essential even as our own country teeters into darkness. It is like when you try to undo a huge knot you have to work at it from several angles.


Above all, Harvey would encourage us not to despair. He was secretly delighted when Anita Bryant drew attention to homosexuality because she made it a household word. While the persecution of trans people makes us want to cry, I do think that we can find a silver lining in all the people who have come out in support of trans kids.

While the current state of affairs is nothing we would have wished for, it is bringing together groups like Jews and Muslims in beautiful ways. Harvey, in opposing Proposition 6  observed that the cruelty of the situation was that it took away rights people previously had  and this administration has done just that, to Muslims, to immigrants, to trans kids, to anyone with a pre-existent condition, and much more.

I think that maneuver is what is going to be the administration’s undoing. I really do believe that Harvey’s spirit is still out there, encouraging us to fight, in the streets, in twitter, in doing what we love and in loving what we do. A kind word to a stranger, raising happy and empowered kids, preparing a meal — all of this works together.

Join Harvey and be an outrageous, skillful warrior of love!


In light of the recent atrocities in Chechnya Harvey would want us protesting in the streets and embassies/consulates across the world every single day until action is taken. He would encourage us to sign petitions, donate to help rescue trapped LGBTQ men, pressure the Media and pressure government officials. He also would like it if all LGBTQ activists and groups got together to work as unified team.

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