Historical
Figures

A black and white photo of Harvey milk looking into the camera.
A black and white photo of Harvey Milk sitting on top of a car during a parade. His right hand is in a fist raised above his head, and he holds a sign in his left hand.
A black and white photo of Harvey Milk. He is wearing a suit with a political button on his lapel. Hi

Harvey Milk (1930 - 1978)

Castro Village Association, Harvey Milk Foundation

https://milkfoundation.org/

Harvey was born into a small middle-class Jewish family in Woodmere, New York on May 22, 1930. He attended college at New York State College for Teachers where he began writing on issues of diversity and lessons from the war in a popular student newspaper column. He graduated in 1951 and enlisted in the Navy where he served as a diving instructor in San Diego. In 1955, he resigned after being officially questioned about his sexual orientation. Several years later in 1972, Harvey opened a camera store on Castro Street in San Francisco which quickly became a neighborhood hotspot. After some area merchants tried to prevent two gay men from opening a store, Milk founded the Castro Village Association comprised of local gay business owners.

 

Around 1975, Mayor George Moscone appointed Milk to the Board of Permit Appeals, making milk the first openly gay city commissioner in the United States. In 1977, Harvey became one of the first openly elected gay officials after he earned a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Harvey sponsored an essential discrimination bill, established a daycare for working mothers, and improved city services and community policing. He became a powerful advocate for LGBTQ+ people, women, racial and ethnic minorities, and other marginalized communities. Milk also helped to oppose Proposition 6 which would have mandated the firing of gay teachers in the state’s public schools. 

 

On November 27, 1978, a disgruntled former city Supervisor Dan White assassinated Milk and Mayor George Moscone. That night, a crowd of thousands marched to City Hall in a silent candlelight vigil. White was later acquitted of murder changes and given a mild sentence of manslaughter after his attorney claimed white was not accountable due to eating too much junk food earlier that day. Stuart Milk And Anne Kroonenberg later established the Harvey Milk Foundation to support LGBTQ+ youth and promote Harvey’s story and inclusive education

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The 14-page, full-size, in-color zine includes the collected artwork of local LGBTQ+ identifying artists: poetry, astrology, “queerscopes,” paintings, digital and mixed-media art, and fictional stories are among the offerings to be enjoyed by readers. “The LQ” was created to help unite the queer community, said Kye Hallows, “because we know how large it is and think that it might help others who aren’t familiar with the scene to feel supported and seen.” The art zines, funded by an Ogden Arts Grant, are available for purchase exclusively at Hallows’ record shop, Lavender Vinyl, located on Historic 25th Street.

                                                               - Standard-Examiner

                                               Instagram: @the_lq_, https://linktr.ee/lqzine

A black and white photo of Marsha P. Johnson. She is leaning on a brick building smoking a cigarette and holding a sign that says POWER TO THE PEOPLE.
A photo of Marsha P Johnson. She is smiling, wearing bright red lipstick, an ornate flower crown, and gold jewlery.
A black and white photo of several people marching down a street. Marsha P Johnson is among them.

Marsha P. Johnson (1945 - 1992)

STAR, GAA, Martha P. Johnson Institute

https://marshap.org/

Marsha P (“Pay it no Mind”) Johnson was born on August 24, 1945 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Due to her Christian upbringing, Johnson was often reprimanded for cross-dressing during her childhood. After graduating from high school, Johnson moved to New York City where she worked in prostitution to make ends meet. She quickly found joy as a drag queen among many others in the nightlife of Christopher Street where she was able to design her own costumes. 


She quickly became a prominent figure in the LGBTQ+ community as she toured with the Hot Peaches and served as a drag mother” by helping homeless and struggling LGBTQ+ youth. In the Stonewall riots, Marsha is known as one of the main instigators of the uprising. Following the events at Stonewall, Johnson and her friend Sylvia Rivera co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). STAR provided services such as shelter, food, clothing, emotional support and a sense of family to homeless LGBTQ+ people in New York City, Chicago, England, and California. 

 

Sadly, at the age of 46, the revolutionary activist was found in the Hudson River off the West Village Piers. Despite no evidence of poor mental health, the police ruled the case of suicide.  For more information watch the video below of The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017) on Netflix. 

A black and white photo of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Bayard Rustin.
An illustration of Bayard Rustin. His upper body is shown on a yellow circle. This is on a white background.
A black and white photo of Bayard Rustin. He is looking directly into the camera.

Bayard Rustin (1912 - 1987)

CORE, FOR, Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, The Rustin Fund

https://www.rustincenter.org/, https://rustinfund.org/

Bayard Rustin was born on March 17, 1912 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He was born into a Quaker family that heavily engaged in civil rights activism.  After graduating high school, Rustin attended Wilberforce University in Ohio, Cheyney State Teachers College (now Cheney University of Pennsylvania) in Pennsylvania, and the City College of New York. He organized the New York branch of the Congress on Racial Equality and joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation, in 1941. A year later, with the help of Philip Randolph, Rustin organized the Journey of Reconciliation and created the very first freedom ride. He was later introduced to Martin Luther King Jr, and quickly became his right hand man and advisor. Rustin introduced Martin Luther king Jr to work of Ghandi his many nonviolent ideas and tactics. 

Rustin became the primary organizer for the March on Washington where the infamous "I Have Dream" speech took place. As his part in the movement became more widespread, many considered him a liability. Some pursued that outsiders would assume King and Rustin wee lovers, hindering the movement. Due to constant threats to "expose their affair" from outside the movement and consultations from inside the movement, King distanced himself from Rustin. However, after the movement began to lose steam, Rustin was reintegrated during the Birmingham Campaign of 1963 as Randolph's deputy. However, shortly after Rustin was jailed for 60 days for engaging in homosexual activity.  

 

Rustin continued his involvement as well as spoke at several gay rights events in the 1980s. In August 2013, President Barak Obama awarded Bayard Rustin with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest civilian award in the United States) for his efforts to gain equality worldwide. His legacy includes the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice and the Rustin Fund (which supports individuals and organizations in helping LGBTQ+ people become full participants in society).