Harvey Bernard Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978) was an American politician and the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, where he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Although he was the most pro-LGBT politician in the United States at the time, politics and activism were not his early interests; he was neither open about his sexuality nor civically active until he was 40, after his experiences in the counterculture movement of the 1960s.
Milk moved from New York City to San Francisco in 1972 amid a migration of gay and bisexual men to the Castro District. He took advantage of the growing political and economic power of the neighborhood to promote his interests, and three times ran unsuccessfully for political office. His theatrical campaigns earned him increasing popularity, and Milk won a seat as a city supervisor in 1977, his election made possible by, and a key component of, a shift in San Francisco politics.
Milk served almost 11 months in office and was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city. On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor, who had recently resigned to pursue a private business enterprise but who had sought to get his position back after that endeavor failed. White was sentenced to seven years in prison for manslaughter, later reduced to five years, and after his release in 1983, committed suicide two years later by carbon monoxide inhalation.
Despite his short career in politics, Milk became an icon in San Francisco and a martyr in the gay community. In 2002, Milk was called "the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States". Anne Kronenberg, his final campaign manager, wrote of him: "What set Harvey apart from you or me was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us." Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
He is also known as Harvey Bernard Milk.