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    Continuing Harvey’s Fight to Change the System

    BT052914-ONLINE-12Last week, I joined San Francisco’s LGBT community in commemorat­ing the 84th birthday of Harvey Milk. With the unveiling of the United States Postal Service’s Harvey Milk stamp, it is hard to dispute that it has become mainstream to talk about Harvey Milk. Harvey Milk is cele­brated for being one of the first open­ly gay elected officials in the United States. He gave hope to the LGBT community when it was facing acts of aggression and hostility.

    However, Harvey Milk’s legacy is not only about being queer, but also about being true to one’s self and be­ing different. Harvey Milk endured criticism and personal attacks so that everyone, regardless of ethnicity, reli­gion, gender identity or sexual orien­tation, had a seat at the table. Despite his leadership, our LGBT brothers and sisters endure discrimination and closet doors remain, even in San Francisco.

    This week, controversy surfaced when Sacred Heart Cathedral Pre­paratory School announced that it would not include the senior portrait of Jessica Urbina because she wore the “wrong” outfit. Jessica’s tuxedo did not conform to the school’s policy that female students must wear dress­es in their senior portraits. With an outpouring of support for Jessica by fellow students, the school recanted on its initial decision. I respect Jes­sica’s ability to remain true to herself and I believe that we should work to support and empower those with the courage to be different.

    In the 1970’s, Harvey Milk was trying to change the system. He believed in government’s duty to all citizens and spoke out as an advocate for LGBT rights. Today, we cannot forget that, despite our many victories in the LGBT community, it is not enough to simply be a part of the system. When one person or one group is oppressed, we are all oppressed. When a person is discouraged from self-expression, our own individuality suffers. We need to continue Harvey’s fight to change the system, so that it is just and fair for everyone.

    Harvey Milk’s legacy is one that calls us to fight for justice. I am urging you to join me because the fight for justice includes all of us and relies on all of us—whether you are queer, an immi­grant, or a minority. Let us not only walk in the footsteps of a great leader, but also forge ahead together on the path to justice for all.

    David Campos is a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors representing District 9. This column for the “SF Bay Times” was inspired by Harvey Milk’s ef­forts to build a coalition of what Milk termed “us’es,” meaning communities that value diversity and attempt to leave no one behind. For more information about Supervisor Campos and his work, please visit