Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Harvey Milk

An openly gay elected official in San Francisco in the 1970s, Harvey Milk enjoyed a national reputation. Raised in Woodmere, New York, he served in the military and worked on Wall Street before the protests and hippie culture of the 1960s drew him to San Francisco. Opening a camera shop on Castro Street in a neighborhood becoming visibly gay, he became an activist defending the rights of gays and lesbians to come out and supporting neighborhood people against downtown development and corporate interests. After losing his first bids for office, he was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1977. He led the successful fight for passage of a law in San Francisco prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and was a key campaigner in the victorious mobilization against Proposition 6, which would have banned California teachers from coming out. Milk’s activism came to a tragic end on November 27, 1978 when he was assassinated, along with Mayor George Moscone, by Dan White, a conservative former supervisor. On May 21, 1979, the lenient verdict in White’s trial ignited major protests, known as the White Night Riots, in San Francisco. The Oscar-winning documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), and the Hollywood film, Milk (2008), have kept Milk’s memory alive and inspired generations of activists. In 2014, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp with Milk's image.