Today in LGBT History – May 21: Harvey Milk Day

Hope will never be silent.  —-Harvey Milk

Learning our history IS resistance! Thanks for taking this journey with me. Now go write your story!

Today in LGBT History – May 21: Harvey Milk Day

1916 – Harold Robbins (May 21, 1916 – October 14, 1997) is born in New York. His original name was Francis Kane. Robbins is the author of some of the best-selling blockbusters in publishing history. Dreams Die First, a novel featuring a bisexual hero, was considered a landmark at the time.  

1966 – A coalition of homophile organizations across the country organize simultaneous demonstrations for Armed Forces Day. The Los Angeles group holds a 15-car motorcade which has been identified as the nation’s first gay pride parade, and activists picket in the other cities. The protest grew out of the first meeting of the organization that would become the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations. (The term homophile  emphasized love rather than sex and was in common use in the 1950s and 1960s by LGBT organizations and publications; the groups of this period are now known collectively as the homophile movement.)

1968 – Ron Buckmire (born 1968)is born. Buckmire is a mathematician, a professor and a queer activist. He is the founder of the Queer Resources Directory, the largest and oldest website on gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/AIDS issues on the Internet. He was born on the Caribbean island nation of Grenada.

1969 – The Committee for Homosexual Freedom pickets a Tower Records store in San Francisco for several weeks following the firing of Frank Denaro, believing him to be gay. Denaro was reinstated. The CHF ran similar pickets of Safewaystores, Macy’s and the Federal Building.

1969, South Africa– The Immorality Amendment Act of 1969 introduces Section 20A, the infamous “men at a party” clause, which criminalizes all sexual acts committed between men “at a party”, where “party” is defined as any occasion where more than two people are present. The amendment also raises the age of consent for male homosexual activity from 16 to 19, although “sodomy” and “unnatural acts” were already criminal.

1970 – Bella Abzug becomes one of the first major U.S. politicians to openly court the gay vote as she addresses a meeting of the Gay Activists Alliance while running for Congress in New York City. She was one of the first members of Congress to support gay rights, introducing the first federal gay rights bill, known as the Equality Act of 1974, with fellow Democratic New York City Representative, Ed Koch, a future mayor of New York City.

1976 – Candidate Jimmy Carter announces that if elected he will support and sign a federal civil rights bill outlawing discrimination against gays and lesbians. “I never knew of any word or action of Jesus Christ that discriminated against anyone,” Carter said. The Carter administration was in the midst of extensive meetings with the new National Gay (later “and Lesbian”) Task Force (NGLTF), founded in 1973. The talks, initiated by Carter aide Midge Costanza (November 28, 1932 – March 23, 2010) and her Office of Public Liaison (OPL), sought to end antigay discrimination. An NGLTF negotiating team had been meeting with agencies like the FCC to persuade them that they could intervene against forms of discrimination that restricted gay and lesbian economic citizenship. They took the position that the Carter administration could open the door to equality by enforcing existing nondiscrimination policies that spoke to human rights principles already endorsed by the president.Although the group publicly suggested that an executive order establishing gay civil rights would be desirable, they accepted that the president had distanced himself from them as a constituency.

1977, Canada – The largest Canadian Gay Rights of Ontario demonstration to date converges on Queen’s Park (The Ontario Legislature) with civil rights demands. The Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario presents the brief “The Homosexual Minority in Ontario” to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The Canadian Human Rights Act, which created the Canadian Human Rights Commission, was finally passed on June 2, 1977, by the Federal Parliament; but homosexuals were not included.

1979 – Dan White is found guilty of lesser charges (voluntary manslaughter), but acquitted on murder charges, stemming from his assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978). Protests following the verdict turn into a riot. Over 3,000 people riot in what became known as the White Night Riots. Dozens were hospitalized.

2013, Nepal – Cason Crane (born 1992) becomes the first openly gay man to summit Mt. Everest. He does it as part of his Rainbow Summit Project to raise awareness for the Trevor Project. In 2013, he became the first gay mountaineer to scale the Seven Summits.

Stand up, speak out, share your story!




(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at,, Lavender Effect,, Arron’s Gay Info, All Things Queer, RS Levinson, Amara Das Wilhelm,, Safe Schools Coalition, and/or Wikipedia. If you wish to edit an item or add an item, please send an email to me at Thanks!)

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