Today is Harvey Milk Day! The City of West Hollywood actually did something pretty cool in that they encouraged people to get involved in a photo project where residents and visitors posed in front of a white background while holding a sign with some of Milk’s most famous quotes. There were three photo sessions at three different locations throughout the city. People were then encouraged to post their photo via social media–twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. This project tapped into people’s vanity, while at the same time spreading Milk’s message of hope, to fight and to come out of the closet. Brilliant.
However … the photos were posted on the city’s photo sharing Flickr page … and that was it. I called City Hall yesterday to find out where they were having their big Milk Day press conference and I was told there would be no ceremony of any sort. I’m talkin’ about no unveiling of the project, no press conference, no speeches from city council with some words to commemorate the man that was well on his way to doing greater things for the gay community before he was gunned down only eleven months into public service. No hoopla. No mini parade. No day off. No nuthin’!
I love the city I live in, and I admire and respect and I do not envy the people who run The City of West Hollywood. Attend a city council meeting and you witness firsthand the heavy and thankless tasks these people face on a daily basis. However … compare the lackluster reception of Harvey Milk Day to say … Go-Go Dancer Appreciation Day where they close off a street, roll out a red carpet and council members pose next to nudie go-go boys, and it seriously feels like there’s a blip in the Matrix.
They say Harvey Milk is the gay man’s Martin Luther King Jr. I’m sorry, but I don’t think so. It sure doesn’t feel like it, anyway. I hit up the Milk photo session they had at WeHo Park on Sunday. I wanted to capture a crowd lining up to have their photo taken with a Harvey Milk quote, but the photo session was mostly empty. The signs were laid out on the WeHo Park lawn. I wanted my shot of people participating, so I hit up random strangers on the street to ask them if they would have their picture taken to celebrate Milk’s legacy. Numerous uppity queens wrinkled their nose and kept stepping as if I were an undesirable asking them for chump change. They had better things to do as they made their way to The Abbey bar, which I totally get. It is what it is, and we are who we are, but this is also West Hollywood and we’re talking about HARVEY MILK!!!
It wasn’t a total waste. Some people were good sports; they stopped to strike a pose while holding their favorite quote. Check out the city’s Flikr page and you can see that the turnout was fairly decent (visit weho.org). I took a pic of my own, but I refused to smile because I’m still getting used to the braces inside my face. When I asked random people if they felt Harvey Milk received the appreciation and recognition he deserved, most of ’em referenced the Milk movie, starring Sean Penn and they all felt that he was appreciated aplenty. Not sure how many people will actually post their photo on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook to show their appreciation, but the community photo session is a brilliant idea. It was a lot more than what the city did last year, which was zilch. Zero. Nada.
I guess a big thank you for the person responsible for the Milk community photo session. We all say we love, respect and value the legacy of Harvey Milk but for the most part, when it comes to Harvey Milk Day, many in the gay community won’t even answer their phones.
And with all that said, HAPPY HARVEY MILK DAY my darrrlinks!!!
Gay rights. Yay.