May 22 is Harvey Milk’s birthday! Not everyone knows that Harvey Milk lived in San Diego before moving to San Francisco. He was stationed here while serving in the U.S. Navy and credited the experience with his love for California and his eventual move to San Francisco.
Because of these San Diego connections, many of the historically significant ways we have found to honor Harvey’s legacy have started and been fueled by San Diegans. From awards, to a bench in Balboa Park, a Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast, the first street named after Harvey Milk, a U. S. postage stamp, the biography Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death, and later this year construction begins on the USNS Harvey Milk Naval vessel —San Diegans led those efforts.
These moments aren’t just about us honoring one man’s legacy; they are about flipping a public narrative that LGBTQ folks can and should be celebrated, not denigrated. We are collectively claiming our place in history, and we can’t do that unless we all stay actively engaged in that progress.
Across the country, attacks on reproductive freedom, environmental health, voting rights, indigenous land, religious minorities, disability rights, workers’ rights, immigrants, refugees, women, people of color, and our LGBTQ community have many of us shaken but resolved to take action. Harvey understood the importance of intersectional civic engagement, about how redistricting and voter turnout impacts elections, and who has a seat at the table.
We must stay engaged in this intersectional fight for justice by ensuring every person is counted in the Census, staying engaged in nonpartisan redistricting efforts, and turning out to vote in every election. Steps like these give us a clear path to honor Harvey Milk and how each of us can take part in our movement’s collective Legacy of Liberation.
Fernando Lopez is the Executive Director of San Diego Pride. Lopez’s years of LGBT advocacy, nonprofit management, public education, diversity consulting, media relations, guest lectures, and organizing have made him a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.