Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankgiving for two who stood for hope


Thirty years ago today, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk was murdered. He was killed for being an uppity fag by a former colleague who found his theatrical presence in the legislative body an offense against the natural order.

Harvey fought his way into public office against the wishes of an entrenched Democratic establishment by building a progressive coalition that brought together unlikely partners including Teamsters, firefighters and an emergent gay community. Above all, he overcame divisions by making himself a messenger for hope.

And the young gay people in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias and the Richmond, Minnesotas who are coming out and hear Anita Bryant [condemning gay people] in television and her story. The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us's will give up. And if you help elect to the central committee and other offices, more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.

Harvey Milk

***

I was reminded of this speech when reading a recent New York Times article by Ron Susskind about Barack Obama's decision to jump into the Presidential contest.

It was Michelle, Axelrod remembers, who stopped the show. "You need to ask yourself, Why do you want to do this?" she said directly. "What are hoping to uniquely accomplish, Barack?”

Obama sat quietly for a moment, and everyone waited. "This I know: When I raise my hand and take that oath of office, I think the world will look at us differently," he said. "And millions of kids across this country will look at themselves differently."

***
The new biopic Milk opened today. I haven't seen it yet, but my friends who were directly part of these events mostly applaud, while noting that Cleve Jones has managed to erase his political rival and Milk's successor at City Hall, Harry Britt. That's politics for you.

1 comment:

Kelli Busey said...

Thank you for helping us find hope!

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