After his mysterious demise, celebrity predator-pervert Jeffrey Epstein still manages to dominate the news. That calls for a look back at another man who also liked ‘em young, but who has become a civil-rights hero with glowing memorials on every hand.
As NBC News reports, the Harvey Milk Terminal at the San Francisco International Airport is “the first in the country to be named for an LGBTQ leader.” The recently opened $2.4 billion terminal contains an exhibition titled “Harvey Milk: Messenger of Hope,” which honors “the first openly gay individual elected to public office in California.”
In 2016 Ray Maybus, Navy Secretary of POTUS 44, named Military Sealift Command fleet oiler the USNS Harvey Milk. Born in 1931, in Woodmere, New York, Milk claimed the Navy tossed him for being homosexual. In fact, as biographer Randy Shilts noted in The Mayor of Castro Street, after serving nearly four years, Milk was honorably discharged in 1955 as a lieutenant, junior grade. Milk cast himself as a victim so people will “feel sorry for me, and then vote for me.”
Milk worked as a production aid on Jesus Christ Superstar and was invited to work on the San Francisco production of Hair. After stints in New York and Los Angeles, Milk and his partner Scott Smith moved to San Francisco. As Daniel Flynn explains in Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco, they funded their lifestyle with unemployment checks, and Milk’s “political evolution from Goldwater conservative to tax-and-spend liberal corresponded with his personal evolution from taxpayer to tax taker.” Milk’s camera shop was insolvent but became a meeting place of sorts.
As Flynn notes, “Milk’s taste in men veered toward boys.” Milk was nearly 17 years older than teenager Joe Campbell and Jack Galen was only 16 to Milk’s 33. Former Marine Oliver “Bill” Sipple slept with men and “knew that Harvey Milk slept with boys.” In a letter to Sipple, Milk said he had many things to do that day, such as “cook dinner, fuck Jack, take a bath, fuck Jack, listen to some music, fuck Jack, wash the dishes, fuck Jack,” and so on.
In September of 1975, Sipple managed to stop leftist radical Sara Jane Moore from assassinating President Gerald Ford. After this heroic act, Milk proceeded to out Sipple without his consent. As Flynn notes, “Harvey Milk outed Bill Sipple as a homosexual. Bill Sipple never outed Harvey Milk as a pederast.”
Harvey Milk was also attracted to Jim Jones who, Flynn recalls, “used the pulpit to extoll homosexuality.” So Milk became one of Jones’ most eager advocates, writing, “Such greatness I have found at Jim Jones’ People’s Temple.” Jones responded with support for Milk’s campaigns but nothing about Jones emerges in the Oscar-winning Milk, a 2008 feature film starring Sean Penn.
Blue-collar Democrat Dan White, a former policeman and firefighter, voted with Milk to support gay issues. Supervisor White has been portrayed as a right-wing anti-gay bigot but as Flynn explains, “this isn’t true.” And it wasn’t true that White killed Milk because he was gay.
Flynn cites supervisor Dianne Feinstein, who said “this had nothing to do with anybody’s sexual orientation. It had to do with getting back his position.”
So Harvey Milk was not a victim of anti-gay violence, and had not been kicked out of the U.S. Navy because he was homosexual. As Flynn laments, “myths prove harder to kill than men.”
Besides the feature film, Milk was the subject of the 1984 Oscar-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk.
In August of 2009, POTUS 44 awarded Harvey Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The posthumous winner “dedicated his life to shattering boundaries and challenging assumptions. As one of the first openly gay elected officials in this country, he changed the landscape of opportunity for the nation’s gay community. Throughout his life, he fought discrimination with visionary courage and conviction.” To honor Milk’s legacy, “the White House will recognize a group of outstanding openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) state and local elected and appointed officials as ‘Harvey Milk Champions of Change.’”
In 2016, Navy Secretary Mabus named a ship the USNS Harvey Milk. In 2019, San Francisco unveils the $2.4 billion Harvey Milk Terminal, with the exhibit “Harvey Milk: Messenger of Hope.” All this for a man whose founding story was bogus, like the myths following his murder in 1978. All this for a pederast, generally defined as “anal intercourse between a man of undetermined older age and a male who is underage.”
As Flynn notes, Milk had been sexually victimized by older patrons of the Metropolitan Opera, but always maintained that such activity was consensual and therefore not abuse. Those who decry Jeffrey Epstein’s predation of teenagers might think otherwise.
They might also wonder if the late Bill Sipple, the former U.S. Marine who saved President Gerald Ford’s life, would be a better candidate for a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Likewise, anybody could be forgiven for thinking that USNS Harvey Milk would better be named after somebody else.