My uncle Harvey Milk gave us his life 33 years ago, knowing that the first of any civil rights movement, who so clearly and loudly proclaim their right to equality, most often meets a violent and sudden end. George Moscone was a steadfast ally and friend of both my uncle and to the core principles of equality that Harvey represented.
Today the memory of both men stand as beacons of light not just in San Francisco, not just in California and not just in the US, but across the globe to all who are diminished for simply being authentic. I am frequently asked if I am deeply saddened that my uncle Harvey did not get to see all those who eventually would proclaim a right to live openly and thereby come to stand on his shoulders or that he also did not see all the places where the light of equality would burn brighter than the darkness of antiquated prejudice-and I have long replied, he did see all those open and proud people living an authentic life and he did see those cities and states and nations that would etch equality into both their laws and their societal values, for he could not have given his life without his seeing and visualizing the dream of that day and he has left us, all of us, with a compass based on hope, hope born of bullets, not smashing into his brain, but smashing our masks and our fear of authenticity.
We also offer timely reflection today on my uncle’s ground breaking collaborative work and his understanding and explanation that we are not weakened by our differences, in fact that our potential is only reached when the full diversity of all those that make up our communities are celebrated. Today his legacy is not of a people or community or a nation being better then another, but communication and teaching of the knowledge that we are so much less when we do not embrace, without qualification, all members of our unique and varied humanity.
My uncle’s legacy has many monuments, not the least of which are the openly LGBT public officials who, through their willingness to serve and live a publicly visible life, continue to offer Harvey Milk style leadership to a world yearning for these examples. And all our strong allies, like President Obama and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi here in the US, and our many new allies across the continents who fight everyday to keep us all embraced. And monuments to Harveys legacy are given light each day with every new young gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered person who comes out and lives an authentic life – these are real tangible living monuments to Harvey’s legacy that have the clear impact to effect change, a real enduring societal change. For as my uncle said, when they know us, when we are visible to all in our lives, hate diminishes.
Today we both mourn our loss and celebrate the legacy we were left with. The memory of Harvey and George burns bright and they have inspired equality minded communities across the country and out onto the global stage to keep alive both Harvey’s dream of a truly inclusive society, without qualification and to follow the example of enduring and selfless collaboration that marked the life of both Harvey Milk and George Moscone.