GSA Network Blog

Harvey Milk Day 2011

Do you know which LGBT rights activist’s birthday is a California state holiday, celebrated all over the world and less than a month away? 

If you guessed Harvey Milk, then you’re RIGHT!
The Second Annual Harvey Milk Day is May 22, 2011!


Harvey Milk was an LGBT activist, community organizer and the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States. Born on May 22, 1930, Milk was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the late 1970s and fought against the discrimination of LGBT business owners in San Francisco and a proposed ban on openly LGBT teachers in the state of California. During his eleven months on the Board of Supervisors, he worked to pass gay rights ordinances in the city of San Francisco and increase the visibility of the LGBT community.

On November 27, 1978, Milk’s life was cut short when he and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by a former San Francisco Board Supervisor. After news of the tragedy at City Hall spread, tens of thousands of mourners gathered in the Castro to hold a candlelight vigil for Milk and Moscone that moved through the streets of the city. In 2009, Harvey Milk’s birthday became a legal state holiday in California.


 I’m sure you’re thinking: “What can my GSA do to celebrate this wonderful day?” Well, here are some ideas for activities that other GSAs have done in the past. 

  • Serve Milkshakes or Milk Duds at your school! Do this as a fundraiser or just for fun! Be sure to include information about Harvey Milk and his legacy to teach your classmates.
  • Play Harvey Milk’s famous “You Gotta Give ‘Em Hope” Speech! You could play the clip of Milk’s speech over your school’s PA system, during a passing period, at lunch or in class!
  • Ask your teachers to include Milk in their lessons for the week! Politics, photography, business, history, civil rights – you name it, Harvey was a part of it all.
  • Teach your class! Have your GSA members do presentations in your classes about Harvey Milk, his contributions and the LGBT Civil Rights Movement.
  • Have a speaker come to your school! Do you have community members who remember Harvey Milk and the LGBT Civil Rights Movement in the ‘70s and ‘80s? Ask them to speak to your school or GSA!
  • Take a Field Trip to The GLBT History Museum! Take your GSA or your class to the GLBT History Museum! Learn about our history and how far we’ve come!

These are just a few ideas to get you started thinking about how you, your GSA and your school can celebrate the second annual Harvey Milk Day. Since Milk’s birthday falls on a Sunday this year, you can celebrate Harvey Milk Day on Friday, May 20, on Monday, May 23, or all week long!

We know you will come up with more great ideas, so take pictures, make videos and write stories about how you celebrated the day! Once you have compiled your best shots, send them over to Jill Marcellus, our Make It Better Project Coordinator, at!

Have fun and Give ‘Em Hope!

“It’s not my victory, it’s yours and yours and yours. If a gay can win, it means there is hope that the system can work for all minorities if we fight. We’ve given them hope.”

-Harvey Milk, after winning a seat on the Board of Supervisors in 1977


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