harvey-milk-001-450.jpgThe first-ever Harvey Milk Day will be celebrated in California Saturday, with several events planned in San Francisco where the former city supervisor and gay rights leader was assassinated in 1978.

The day honoring Milk comes as a result of a bill authored by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that was signed into law in October 2009 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Milk, who was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone in November 1978 by Supervisor Dan White, was San Francisco’s first openly gay supervisor. He helped defeat a proposition known as the Briggs Initiative, which would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools.

An interesting sidenote: according to a report in Raw Story published today, at the time of his death, Milk was also being investigated by the FBI for alleged political corruption. According to Milk’s former colleague, Danny Nicoletta, this is unsurprising, saying that “In terms of what the political climate was at that time, one would assume the FBI had looked into all of those gentleman,” and that the White House “would have been highly curious about what was going on with LGBT issues in San Francisco at that time.”

A new sidewalk plaque honoring Milk will be unveiled during a dedication ceremony outside the building where he ran a camera store prior to becoming supervisor. The dedication is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. outside the store, located at 575 Castro St.

A “Hotcakes for Harvey” pancake breakfast is also being held Saturday morning at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy. The breakfast is scheduled for 8 a.m. at the school, located at 4235 19th St.

A new civil rights mural will also be unveiled at the school at noon Saturday.

The school also has an assembly scheduled for Thursday that featured a speech by activist Cleve Jones, who was Milk’s friend and worked on his campaign for supervisor.

Satueday morning at 10 am, there will be a rally at the San Francisco LGBT Center, at which Senator Leno, Assemblymember Ammiano, District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty, longtime gay activist Cleve Jones and many others will speak. Mission ice cream shop Humphry Slocombe, is creating a special flavor of ice cream that attendees will get to taste. Following the rally, participants will go door-to-door in neighborhoods that supported Prop. 8 to build support for marriage equality through one-on-one conversations. More details here.

Saturday night starting at 8 pm, there will be a 1970s-themed celebration for Harvey’s birthday at the Lookout (3600 16th Street at Market/Noe), with a costume contest, cake, dancing, peace, love and disco!

A Harvey Milk Day event is also being held Saturday at the College of Alameda. The event will feature a keynote address from Campbell Mayor Evan Low, who in December became the country’s youngest openly gay mayor at 26 years old.

The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the College of Alameda’ Student Lounge, located on the first level of Building F on campus.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will join Leno, state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, and Milk’s nephew, Stuart Milk, at a private fundraiser this evening to help elect LGBT candidates and their allies to public offices in honor of Harvey Milk Day.

That fundraiser, organized by Equality California, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today and will be held at a private location that will be made available to those who buy the tickets. For more information about the event, visit the Equality California website at www.eqca.org.

The group SaveCalifornia.com, which opposed the bill to create Harvey Milk Day, is urging parents to protect their children from the “sexual indoctrination” that they say will take place on the school days surrounding Harvey Milk Day.

The group’s website recommends that parents ask each of their student’s teachers if they plan to honor or mention Milk, and to keep them home if the answer is not “no.”

San Francisco Unified School District spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said there are no district-planned events regarding Harvey Milk Day today or next week, and that “there will be some discretion school by school if they want to do something.”

Bay City News contributed significantly to this report

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • areallyniceguy

    It is sad that there is still such bigotry, but there will be more cake for the rest of us.