Today being Harvey Milk Day, we honor Harvey Milk. He was a gay rights activist focused on stopping discrimination against gays and lesbians. He became the first openly gay person elected to California office in 1977, he was also the first openly gay person elected in a major U.S. city, and during his tenure in office, Milk pushed for visibility of gay people as well as for social equality. He worked to pass a gay rights ordinance—to ban discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations. He spent the summer of 1978 working to defeat Proposition 6—also known as The Briggs Initiative—which would have banned gays and lesbians, or anyone supporting gay rights, from teaching or working in public schools in California. It was defeated at the ballot box that November.
On November 27, 1978, Harvey Milk was assassinated by Dan White, a former Board of Supervisors member, who had resigned a few months earlier and wanted to be reinstated. White first killed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, and then walked across the building and shot Harvey Milk five times. Dan White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter instead of murder, was released early, and committed suicide in 1985.
Harvey Milk’s profile continued to rise after his assassination. In 1982, a biography titled The Mayor of Castro Street was released, bringing Milk’s attention to a wider audience. This was followed by an Academy Award-winning documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk, in 1984. Many buildings in California were named after Milk. In 2008, another Academy Award-winning film, Milk, was released. Harvey Milk was posthumously given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2009. That same year, Harvey Milk Day was established by the California legislature and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on October 11. California schools commemorate Milk with activities, events, and projects, and equal rights are focused on. The Harvey Milk Foundation organizes events worldwide.
To bring things back to comics… In 1991, same-sex marriage became legally recognized in the state of New York under the Marriage Equality Act. In 1992, Marvel comics released the first gay wedding in comics which took place in the comic book world of New York in the comic “Astonishing X-Men” with the marriage of Northstar (the first openly gay character in comics) and his long time partner Kyle. This was a huge moment in comic book history and so much more has happened since.
So today, in honor of Harvey Milk Day and everyone out there who might need a comic to relate to, I will list my personal, and very bias, top 3 favorite LGBTQ+ comics. There are SO many amazing comics and webcomics out there themed LGBTQ+, too many to list, so please do share your favorites in the comments.
Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together…and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! Prepare for the zany adventures of five best friends at a summer camp plagued by supernatural creatures. All fans of Hardcore Lady Types welcome! LUMBERJANES is one of those punk rock, love-everything-about-it stories that appeals to fans of basically all excellent things.
Welcome to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, an historically all-female school whose population is decidedly more drama geek than jock. Liv, aspiring actor and basketball enthusiast, doesn’t understand why she can’t be both, but she seems alone in that belief…until Charlie. Charlie is a recent transfer, a star basketball player, and the answer to all of Liv’s problems. She’ll stop at nothing to get Charlie to join the ragtag group of misfits that make up their fledgling basketball team.
A story of monsters, romance, and magical hijinks! Fantasy creatures are living typical, unremarkable lives alongside humans, and barista Julie strives to be the most unremarkable of all. Normal job, normal almost-girlfriend, normal…werewolf transformations that happen when she gets upset? Yikes! But all bets are off when she and her centaur best friend Chet find themselves in the middle of a magical conspiracy.
How will you be celebrating? Do you have any favorite LGBTQ+ comics or characters? Let us know in the comments. As the day is also about carrying on Harvey Milk’s work, you could support the Human Rights Campaign, the Harvey Milk Foundation, or other groups that support LGBTQ rights.