SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) – The LGBTQ community celebrated two important events in history Wednesday night: the 40th anniversary of Harvey Milk’s election as San Francisco Supervisor and the 20th anniversary of the giant flagpole that flies the rainbow flag in the Castro.
On this night, it was about celebrating the past, present and future.
It’s a quote from slain San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk.
40 years ago on November 8th, 1977, he became California’s first openly gay elected official.
“We love you Harvey. Congratulations. You’re always with us,” says Tom Ammiano, former California State Assemblyman and former San Francisco Supervisor.
He was among the speakers at the celebration held at Jane Warner Plaza.
“My friend, my boss, my mentor,” says Anne Kronenberg, Milk’s former campaign manager.
Kronenberg says Milk laid the groundwork in the fight for equal rights, “I think Harvey would be so thrilled that marriage equality is here to stay, that so many of his friends who are still here, are in loving, married relationships . We have made huge progress in the last forty years.”
An art installation called Harvey’s Halo also debuted on this night, but it was difficult to see because of the cloud cover.
LED lights beamed into the night sky to form what organizers describe as a rainbow halo.
The works were created by Illuminate, the nonprofit that is responsible for the light show on the Bay Bridge.
“It’s a bridge between the past, where we are now, and the future. They’re really about celebrating where we’ve been and also pointing the light at where we need to be going as a people,” says Ben Davis, founder of Illuminate.
The gathering also honored the 20th anniversary of the rainbow flag installation here in the Castro.
Supervisor Jeff Sheehy worked with the late artist Gilbert Baker to unfurl the symbol of inclusion here on November 8th, 1997.
“At the end of the day, love is how we win. It’s how we’ve always won as a community,” says Sheehy.
Along with the rainbow flag, Harvey’s quote will be a permanent installation.
“Having his quote up there forever will inspire generations to come about social justice , inclusion and equality,” says Andrea Aiello, Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza.
The public lights artwork is part of the redesign of Harvey Milk Plaza, enhancing the Castro as a place of solace and strength. But it’s also home to protest and resistance.