If you didn’t already know, today is Harvey Milk Day. The purpose of this day is to educate others about an extraordinary leader whose courageous work to end discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in the 1970s set the stage for many of the civil rights advances we see today. For those that don’t know, Harvey Milk was an activist, organizer, and the first openly gay man elected to public office in the country as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the late 1970s. He pushed for safe, strong neighborhoods and supported public education, affordable childcare, and equity for all. His life ended when he was tragically assassinated on November 27, 1978.
For myself, Harvey Milk’s story will serve as a motivating force for the rest of my life. As a gay man who has subtly navigated leadership positions in public, the privilege I hold to be unapologetically out about my identity and proud stems from the suffering and hardships of Harvey and many other LGBTQ+ leaders that we have lost. This day is a chance to remind ourselves that our nation, state, and campus have a way to go before true equity for all is reached.
To symbolize the progress made and the progress yet to come in achieving an equitable society, ASI has partnered with the Cal Poly Pride Center to create a Pride Crosswalk embossed at the very beginning of Mustang Way as a way to recognize, celebrate, and dedicate a space on campus to members of the LGBTQ+ community. The intent of the Cal Poly Pride Crosswalk is to provide students, faculty, staff, visitors, and supporters a sense of place and community when they enter campus. It demonstrates the ability to engage and honor a marginalized community through the creative use of pre-existing university infrastructure.
Waiting for progress can be frustrating, but being on the frontlines of social change even slightly can be the most rewarding feeling. I cannot wait to dive deeper into my future career, whether in public policy or not, to better understand how I can help create space for those traditionally unheard, just as Harvey Milk did for me.