Harvey Milk’s radical vision of equality – Lillian Faderman

By 1973, Harvey Milk had already been many things: naval officer, high school teacher, bit-part actor, and wandering hippie. But as he embarked on yet another life
running a camera shop in San Francisco, he already found himself distracted. From the Watergate hearings
on national news, to the teacher who had to rent a projector
when her school couldn’t afford one, Harvey saw a desperate need
for political reform. Milk strongly believed that tight knit
neighborhoods were essential to the fabric of the city, and that government should solve those
community’s most practical problems. From fixing potholes and putting
up stop signs, to promoting a friendly culture
of cooperation, Milk envisioned a more personal
approach to local government. This philosophy led him to run
for the city’s Board of Supervisors as the representative
for his own district, which included the heart of
American gay culture, the Castro. At this time, police brutality,
discrimination and media stereotyping plagued the LGBT community, labeling Harvey and his supporters as
political outsiders. But Milk refused to
downplay his sexuality. He was sure that gay rights could never
be won from the closet, and he saw the Castro as one of many minorities without
representation in city politics. Milk was determined to bring these
basic government services to all of San Francisco’s disenfranchised
groups, regardless of race, age, or sexuality. But despite his flair for public speaking and open-hearted approach, voters couldn’t see Milk’s radical vision. In 1973, he lost his first bid for
the Board of Supervisors. In 1975, he lost again. A year later, he ran for the California
Assembly– and lost. Yet he tirelessly continued
to support his district, befriending bartenders, construction
unions, and local Chinese grocers. This earned him the affectionate title,
the “mayor of Castro Street.” And when he ran his third campaign for
the Board of Supervisors in 1977, Harvey finally won the seat– becoming one of the first openly gay
public officials in US history. Elated, Milk arrived in office determined
to make lasting change. He immediately introduced a bill outlawing
discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and launched a major clean-up of the city. But not everyone was happy
with this direction. Anti-gay sentiment was gaining national
momentum, especially in the form of
California’s Proposition 6. The proposition, which sought
to make it illegal for homosexuals to work
in Californian schools, would prove to be the biggest battle
of Milk’s career. Supporters of Prop 6 attacked
the LGBT community, calling them unfit to work with students. But Milk urged them not to hide in fear: “Come out to your relatives. Come out to your friends,
if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors,
to your fellow workers… break down the myths. Destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake.” Alongside other activists, he ran an incandescent campaign
against hate. On November 7, 1978, Prop 6 was defeated in a landslide. It was proof that Milk’s message was
gaining traction. But just twenty days after this
inspiring victory, he was assassinated at City Hall– killed alongside San Francisco
Mayor George Moscone. Both men had been murdered by Dan White, a former fellow supervisor, who had positioned himself against those
he called “radicals, social deviates and incorrigibles.” He had frequently clashed with Harvey
at Board meetings, and resented the spirit of change
which Milk personified for many. The night of Milk’s murder, thousands marched by candlelight
through the city. In the wake of this tragedy, yet another injustice arose. In a highly controversial verdict, White received a sentence of only seven
years and eight months– a decision that sparked uproar
throughout the city in what became known as
the White Night Riots. But even after his death, Milk continued to preach
his hopeful cause. He left his friends and followers a total
of three different tapes to be played in the event
of his assassination. They leave us with a call to action, and a reminder that everyone is welcome
in the fight against injustice: “I ask for the movement to continue… and if a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy
every closet door…”


  1. Visit http://bit.ly/2XTOaL5 if you're curious about how to turn your experiences, dreams, fears or hopes into a TED-style talk!

  2. I agree with him that every LGBT with a public platform should come out and be proud of who they are. Their fame gives them the rare opportunity to make a change. Unfortunately, a lot of them are still hiding deep in their shameful closets.

  3. the older you get. the vague it is for someone to be called hero or villain. people use it differently to suit what they want.

  4. What a beautiful video! We in the LGBT+ community know about Milk everywhere, this video is a great reminder of his legacy. <3

  5. It’s reassuring to know that there are still people like TedEd who continue to raise awareness about unsung heroes who have given there lives for a better society.

  6. This was eye opening to watch and listen to from the UK, previously having no knowledge of this activist, it's amazing that this man went through all this struggle and hard work to make others see that prejudice has no place. Absolutely inspiring.

  7. Milk is a nutritious food sustenace, just like Harvey who provided substantial awareness to the public.

  8. Myth, he was killed over grievances. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.city-journal.org/dan-white&ved=2ahUKEwiM74S2tf_gAhXQSt8KHUQ7AZIQFjAVegQICRAB&usg=AOvVaw22wSmEbqPNG_a7nHkUvcVG

  9. The Dead Kennedys have a song about the murders, in the tune of I Faught the Law, with same title. During Dan White's trial, his Attorney was pushing for for lesser sentence because White was experiencing delirium from eating a lot of Twinkies. That defense became later known as the "Twinkie Defense." and it worked getting White a shortter sentence.

  10. This was really interesting, I've never heard of him before but I'm glad I did know. I love the animation style, too!

  11. Milk supported Jim Jones, most famous for running Jonestown which ended in mass suicide. Jim Jones was also pro equality between races but I'm not going to praise his 'radical' stance on racism in the 60s and 70s. Or if I did there would be a large asteriks explaining this doesn't excuse his views and actions on other matters!
    This video is disgustingly oversimplified portraying Milk as some kinda of exemplary person when he was VERY flawed!

  12. Regardless of your personal views, whether religious or personal, any flaws you see in an individual do not deny the basic humanity of that individual. All humans share a common dignity that must be respected and any decisions concerning those “flaws” must be based on objective logic and facts rather than subjective prejudice.

  13. There should be no laws outlawing discrimination against gays. There should be ONE law protecting EVERYONE.

  14. From this story, you get the impression that sexual orientation is the most important ‘practical’ community problem – seriously? How about wages, working conditions and other actual problems?! 0.o

  15. The video mention how he lived different jobs and then realizing that he need to take action to make change, including the story of teacher that school's couldn't afford a projector, thus joining as supervisor.

    The narrative after that is only about his struggle on gender equality. I can't see why the story of the teacher correlated with that. I thought the video will discuss about social and economic inequality.

    By any means, I still amazed with his story. I just wanted to know him more, especially his idea on the inequality world as whole problem. Any recommendation of articles or books?

  16. We dont get politicians like these anymore.. 90% of the people in Congress, could barely be trusted.

    They're not even battling hate anymore, they're creating it!

  17. Conservatives are facing the same prosecution. We do not deserve to be silenced, shunted, fired, isolated, deplatformed. We deserve a voice.

  18. As always, an informative presentation. My only criticism is with the animation, specifically the nose. It’s very distracting. At first, I thought he had a deformity until I saw that everyone had a weird nose. Otherwise, keep up the good work.

  19. The hunter gather people will not tolorate homophobes. They believe that everyone is equal. That includes the childern. They aren't all that bad. Are they angels? No, but they aren't monsters.

  20. Yet so much hatred and inequality since the aftermath of the tragedy.With many police and govt officials clearly supporting for White's release and put the blame on Milk.From openly wore "Free Dan White" T-shirts in the days after the murder,telling Harvey Milk jokes,and somebody that sang " Danny Boy" in the police band.Looks like they really hate Milk.So much,till it was considered lucky for Milk to hold the supervisor position for about 11 months

  21. An important note for today: Though a warrior, Milk knew he had to win hearts, and didn't simply demand that everyone else accept him first. The moment he decided to enter politics, he got a haircut and traded his hippy clothes for that nice suit and tie. True American class — but unfortunately lost on the "I do what I want" activist style of the present era.
    One of his quotes is approximately: "First they may shout at you. Then you can sit down and talk."

  22. Did everyone in the story have something wrong with their nose or is that a weird stylistic choice by the artist?

  23. Milk was aware that he could be shot dead for his political activism, even living posthumous messages in the event of such a tragedy. And yet he continued to publicly demand change? Milk is one of the most courageous people to have ever lived.

  24. 1- Harvey Milk publicly outed a man named Oliver Sipple against his will, after Sipple foiled an assasination attempt on then president Ford. Sipples mental health would deteriorate sharply until he died at the age of 47.

    2- the "twinkie" defense is not what you think it is. Read some source material.

  25. This is so inspirational it makes me want to go outside and tell everyone I know I want to wear makeup and dress up and be pretty even though I am a boy


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