By: Joshua Beadle
In this month's midterm elections, voters across the country sent a record number of LGBT candidates to Congress and Colorado elected the nation's first openly gay governor. These victories come 40 years after the assassination of the first openly gay elected official in California — Harvey Milk.
Last night Shannon Fortner, ricipient of Sarasota's 2018 ICON award, hosted a demonstration at Five Points Park to remember the San Francisco Board of Supervisor who in 1978 coaxed the city council to pass a gay rights ordinance that protected gay people from being fired from their jobs.
On Nov. 27, 1978, Supervisor Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, a former police officer and former city supervisor who had clashed with Milk over LGBTQ issues.
A hand-full of candle lit supporters, gathered on the rather chilly night in front of a rainbow lit sign of Harvey Milk. Shannon spoke with a megaphone, standing on a soap box and referenced the tragic Pulse Nightclub shooting from June 12, 2016, stating, "Our hearts beat on to honor the lives we've lost" and reminding us that the work we do each day keeps Harvey Milks' legacy alive.
The success of LGBTQ candidates in the midterm elections would have been hard to imagine four decades ago when Milk first won office. In his life he was a political hero, in his death, a martyr. His existence though, led the way for future generations to fight for our LGBTQ rights. Harvey would be proud.
Members of ALSO Youth, Divine AF, SarasotaOUT.com, Firefly SRQ and a handful of curious patrons were in attendance.