|SAN FRANCISCO - September 16 - The life and legacy of slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk will be honored posthumously just days prior to the 25th anniversary of his death in 1978 at San Francisco's City Hall. Milk's death and that of Mayor George Moscone at the hands of a fellow city official has long been recognized as a galvanizing point in the Gay Rights movement.
Milk's life will be honored with the awarding of the prestigious Circles of Hope Award 2003 at gala dinner ceremonies on Saturday, November 15, 2003, 7:30 PM in the historic Westin St. Frances Hotel near San Francisco's Union
Square. Other major 25th anniversaries taking place in 2003 will also be
"There is no one in the LGBT community whose leadership was more vital and whose memory is more dear to us than that of Harvey Milk," said Rev. Dr. Penny Nixon, Metropolitan Community Foundation president from her office just blocks away from the site of Milk's Castro Street camera shop. "We are proud to honor him on the 25th anniversary of his death, and we are delighted that our entire community will come together on this occasion to acknowledge the many silver anniversaries of key events in 1978, a very seminal year of our community."
Recipient of the Circles of Hope Award in 2002 was Coretta Scott King. The award to Milk will be accepted by a committee of his colleagues and associates and will be held and displayed by the International Museum of GLBT History located in San Francisco. Ticket information is available from The Fundamentals Consortium, contact Julie Davis: 415-395-9543.
Gay & Lesbian Community 25th Silver Anniversaries in 2003 -
In addition to Milk's untimely death on November 27th, the year 1978 was marked by other historic events and developments in progressive and activist communities of the San Francisco Bay Area which will also be honored at the Circles of Hope Dinner Gala.
"We have enjoyed a cycle of many happy celebrations this year," Nixon said, "including 25th anniversaries of milestones in the performing arts and literary communities, social justice and progressive political arenas as well."
Among the Silver anniversaries dating from the year 1978 cited by Nixon were the following:
- Swearing into office, service and subsequent death Election to office of the first openly gay city official;
- Introduction and defeat in statewide election of the first gay-related issue, the Briggs Initiative / Proposition 6, an attempt to ban gay persons from serving as teachers in public schools;
- Introduction by activist Gilbert Baker of the Rainbow Flag as a symbol of freedom;
- Founding of San Francisco's LGBT Jewish Congregation, Sha'ar Zahav;
- Initial publication of author Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City;
- Olivia Records release of an historic album by Linda Tillery and the historic "Varied Voices of Black Women" tour by musicians Mary Watkins, Vicki Randle, Pat Parker, Gwen Avery and Tillery;
- Founding work of performing arts leader Jon Sims of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Freedom Band and the San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Chorus.
"So many happenings in the year 1978 came to bear fruit in our community. This is our time to remember. Theatre Rhinoceros was born in our Mission District. The Women's Building steering committee made the first down payment for its now famous facility. Pat Parker's classic Black lesbian liberation poetry book, Movement in Black was published; and the first ever COYOTE hooker's ball was held at the Cow Palace and attended by more than 20,000," Nixon said.
Life of Slain Leader Inspires Activists -
A native of the New York City area, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay elected official in the US in 1977 with his election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Having entered the Navy shortly after completing college in 1951, Milk advanced to the rank of chief petty officer aboard the U.S.S. Kittyhawk only to receive a dishonorable discharge when his homosexuality was discovered.
Arriving in San Francisco's Castro District in 1972, he opened a camera shop which became a center of political organizing. After only eleven months in office, Milk was murdered by Dan White who had resigned his post on the Board of Supervisors following the enactment of the Gay Civil Rights bill which he opposed. Milk's life has inspired gay rights marches attended by hundreds of thousands in Washington, DC; San Francisco and other cities. Numerous award-winning literacy and artistic works have also addressed his life and legacy, including Randy Shilts' The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk.
Background / MC Foundation and Circles of Hope Award -
The Metropolitan Community Foundation was established in 1997. The Foundation provides much-needed services to the hungry, the homeless and the poor of San Francisco serving 500 meals weekly to the hungry; arts, music and reading programs for children of low-income families to enhance their public education; showers that restore dignity and comfort to more than 160 homeless men and women each week; HIV/AIDS programming; emergency shelter for youths at risk; and tutoring and school supplies for students in need.
The Circles of Hope event was founded four years ago to honor leaders who advocate for social justice. Past award recipients include Rev. Jim Mitulski, Rev. Cecil Williams and Jan Mirikitani, and Mrs. Coretta Scott King. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Eric Cole, Metropolitan Community Foundation, at 415-865-2749 or firstname.lastname@example.org.