History keeps changing.

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Jose SarriaScrolling through my Facebook feed this morning landed me on a post by The Advocate about California’s State Board of Education’s recent approval of ten history and social science textbooks that are LGBT-inclusive. It spurred me to write a blog about it, and as I was doing a bit of research I ran across something I hadn’t known before. It also made me realize I had been wrong in previous posts I made about the first openly gay individual to run for public office. I hate it when that happens!  (being wrong about something I’ve stated firmly in the past, not learning about something I didn’t know before.)

So, in the past, I had thought Harvey Milk was the first openly gay person elected to public office in the United States. I was gleefully corrected by a member of what I call my “anti-fan club”, a few people who love to slam anything and everything I write (because I’m a gay atheist, and that just riles them and their conservative Christian world view to no end, and who can’t stand the idea that I was graciously given a public platform at the Visalia Times Delta’s website). They work overtime to find something wrong in my posts, and proudly post corrections, and condemnations. One particular person’s correction at least educated me, when it was pointed out that Elaine Noble was the first openly gay or lesbian individual elected to a state legislature in the United States. Harvey Milk had ran as an openly gay man for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, but lost in his first attempt in 1973. Noble was elected in 1974, and took office in January of 1975. Milk won his next attempt, taking office in January 1978. He became the first openly gay man elected to office in California.

Turns out Elaine Noble wasn’t the first openly gay or lesbian to run for a public office in the United States.

Meet Jose Julio Sarria. In 1961 he ran for San Francisco Supervisor, the office Harvey Milk would finally win in the election of 1977. Sarria did not win.

In further researching Mr. Sarria, I discovered some more things I didn’t know! For instance, I had heard of two historical figures in San Francisco, namely The Widow Norton, and The Empress of San Francisco (more properly The Grand Mere, Absolute Empress 1 de San Francisco). I did not realize they were the same person. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

October was LGBT History month. It took November’s California Board of Education’s vote to approve ten LGBT-inclusive textbooks for me to actually learn some history I hadn’t known before. There’s a great historical time line presentation at GLSEN’s website, where I stumbled upon Mr. Sarria’s information. Go check it out, I think you’ll be as interested as I was. In fact, now that I’m done with this post, I’m going back to finish my history lesson. I got sidetracked at 1961!

History doesn’t really change, but how we view it, and how it’s presented does. California is leading the nation in LGBT inclusive education. Since we are one of the largest textbook customers in the nation, many states will end up using the same suppliers, and the children in those states will benefit from our standards.

Just another reason I’m a California guy, through and through.

 

 

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USPS Honors Harvey Milk with a stamp

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Available May 22, Harvey Milk Day in California.

Harvey Milk Day Commentary

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Here’s the text of my Guest Commentary in the Visalia Times Delta of May 20, 2011.

“My name is Harvey Milk, and I’m here to recruit you.”

Making this statement during public appearances, Harvey Milk was recruiting people to come out of the closet. He felt this action was the most important thing people in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community could do to ensure their civil rights. If more people were aware of the gay associates, friends, family and loved ones around them, it would become impossible for most of them to continue past habits of discrimination.

Sunday, May 22, is the second annual California Harvey Milk Day. It’s a day to remind all Californians of the ability of one person to make a difference.

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Harvey Milk Day Commentary Published

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My Harvey Milk Day commentary was published today in the Visalia Times Delta.

Check it out, here.

The paper will put it behind a paywall in a week, so after then I’ll post the text here.  Until then, go read it at on their website, or buy a copy of the paper.  Or two or three copies!

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