A commemorative stamp honoring LGBT civil rights pioneer Harvey Milk will be released next month, and there will be a special first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony at the White House. The event will coincide with California’s Harvey Milk Day, which is May 22. In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Milk the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Harvey Milk was a visionary leader who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the U.S. when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977,” the USPS said in a statement released today.
Milk’s achievements gave hope and confidence to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in the United States and elsewhere at a time when the community was encountering widespread hostility and discrimination. Milk believed that government should represent all citizens, ensuring equality and providing needed services.
His remarkable career was tragically cut short nearly a year after he took office, when he and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated.
San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter (B.A.R.) newspaper reports that the “idea of a Milk stamp first arose in the late 1980s, when San Francisco artist Jim Leff, a gay man who knew Milk, painted a mock-up of what such a stamp could look like.”
In 2005 San Francisco’s 11-member Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution calling on the U.S. postmaster general to issue one for the gay rights leader.
But it wasn’t until 2009, when the B.A.R. began reporting about a Facebook campaign calling for the creation of a Milk stamp, that the idea began to gain momentum. The coverage spawned a nationwide campaign urging the postal service to issue the stamp.
The Bay Area Reporter and others have posted the rendering above as being the final design for the stamp. Linn’s Stamp News, which originally published the image, noted the “design includes the pride flag colors as six different color squares stacked vertically in the upper left corner.”
The stamp, which is believed to be based on a photo taken by photographer, artist, designer, and friend of Harvey Milk, Dan Nicoletta, will be the first of an openly-gay elected official in U.S. history.
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