Harvey Gave Me Hope

Today would have been Harvey Milk’s 87th birthday.

I was one year old in 1978, the year he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated, living with my immigrant parents in the Mission.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I truly learned about Harvey. One night, I remember anxiously watching “The Times of Harvey Milk” on KQED, hoping no one in my family would walk in on me. I didn’t yet proudly identify as gay, but I connected with him and his vision for the world.

Harvey’s story gave me hope.

You see, even growing up in our beloved San Francisco, I was bullied for not adhering to traditional gender roles. I didn’t care for sports, but loved music and theater. I was constantly harassed from 1st grade through high school. Seeing Harvey’s bravery and how it mobilized our community gave me the courage that I needed to survive.

Years later, I decided to take on the challenge that Harvey posed to all of us. I chose to build an even stronger LGBT community so that together we could be the healthiest, most fabulous versions of ourselves. I chose to work towards making sure that we are not isolated or harassed, and to bring community together to collectively create a more just world.

Working at the SF LGBT Center has given me that opportunity. Every day I have the immense privilege and blessing to come to the Center and work with dedicated staff and hundreds of volunteers that connect our community to the resources and opportunities we all need to thrive.

I think Harvey would’ve been proud of what we’ve built here at the Center.

Today, as a birthday gift to Harvey’s legacy, I recommit myself to fighting for what’s right. To fight for our dignity. To fight against sexism, bigotry, transphobia, homophobia and xenophobia. And to continue to give our community hope for the future.

I urge you to join me.

I hope you find your inspiration and work with us on our path to full equality—whether that inspiration is Harvey Milk, or Audre Lorde, or Pedro Zamora, or Bayard Rustin, or Miss Major, or Edie Windsor, or the thousands of other pioneers of our movement.

Get involved, volunteer, make art, raise your voice, donate, be visible—if it is safe to do so—and be proud. Every single act of unity and resistance against oppression creates a more equitable world. Our collective actions are now more important than ever before.

Harvey once said, “Hope will never be silent.” Indeed, it will never be, if we continue to stand together to support the most vulnerable members of our communities and to create a more welcoming and equitable world. I trust that you will join us.

Happy birthday, Harvey!

Contact Person: 
Roberto Ordenana