Why LGBT+ Representation is Important for LGBT+ Students

This past Presidents Day weekend I found myself with lots of free time. This is something rare as I normally don’t have any free time whatsoever, but with time on my hands I decided to get on Netflix and watch a movie or something. I’d heard several times that the movie MILK by director Gus Van Sant was an amazing movie so I decided to give it a shot and watch it. I honestly fell in love with that movie, it ignited something in me. Being so eager to learn more about this man Harvey Milk and his legacy within the LGBT+ community throughout the 1970’s I decided to flip into my AP U.S. History textbook and see what else I could find out about this man. I was surprised to find no mention of him anywhere throughout the chapter related to the 1970’s.

This is in a way very tragic due to the fact that a huge part of what Harvey Milk did for LGBT+ people seems to be somewhat overlooked. Harvey Milk was born May 22, 1930 in Woodmere, NY. Milk was a prominent gay and human rights activist that fought arduously who became the first openly gay elected official in the U.S. Milk won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, here he gave never before experienced hope to the LGBT+ community in a time when they faced with discrimination and violence. Though, Milks work was cut short after his assassination by fellow city Supervisor Dan White on November 27, 1978.

Photo by Daniel Nicoletta
Harvey Milk as Mayor for a Day

Harvey Milk’s story stood out to me so much because he was a man who simply fought for equality, he valued the idea upheld by our constitution, “…All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” I can’t fathom that his legacy is nowhere to be found among my textbook, Milk was a champion of human rights but especially gay rights that should be acknowledged.

This is primarily critical for LGBT+ students, it’s hard enough trying to understand gay culture and history but it is harder when students are sheltered from the reality that was and still is the LGBT+ movement in the U.S. We should be acknowledging events and individuals like Harvey Milk, Lavern Cox, and the Stonewall Inn Riots who have and are currently fighting for the progression of LGBT+ rights. Like aforesaid, the triumphs of these individuals should be championed and highlighted, they are worthy of the same recognition as any event in history because at the end of the day, we wouldn’t be where we are now without these courageous acts of progress.

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